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Everett volunteers help people in need find clothes, confidence

By Christina Harper, HeraldNet

2289 days ago   Article ID# 41729
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EVERETT, WASHINGTON (HeraldNet) - A woman recently browsed around the three-room basement, through racks of clothes at the YWCA Working Women's Wardrobe Program in Everett.

She couldn't find anything to wear.

Pat Lawrence saw that the woman's teeth had been knocked out. Lawrence suggested the woman take another look at the various donated suits and tops, dresses and pants, and take some into one of the changing rooms to try on. The woman was reluctant and unsure.

But with encouragement from Lawrence and other volunteers, the woman left the program filled with self-confidence and a couple bags of clothes and accessories to help her find a job.

"By the time we finished that day, our hearts were so full," Lawrence said.

Lawrence volunteers as the coordinator at the Working Women's Wardrobe. She's also a member of the Mill Creek Women's Club. She helps Snohomish County women who are re-entering the work force to pick out and put together two or three professional outfits suitable for job interviews or work.

The women, or clients, are referred by social service organizations such as Goodwill and The Women's Mission.

"We are so blessed in this community," said Luanne Kunz, community affairs coordinator with the program.

Kunz receives clothing and toiletry donations from individuals, consignment stores, Macy's and J.Jill. The program needs clean, gently used clothing in good condition, as well as clear plastic hangers, clothing-store shopping bags, shoes, unused makeup, hats and bags. Personal care items such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, washcloths, and feminine hygiene products are always needed.

"I'm looking for shoes size 12," Kunz said. "Always."

People hoping to volunteer at the Working Women's Wardrobe Program can expect to be matched up with a variety of jobs, including sorting and hanging clothes and helping clients find suitable clothing. Potential volunteers fill out an application online and are given a background check. They are then interviewed by Lawrence.

"I find them a job and get them trained," Lawrence said.

Other members of the Mill Creek Women's Club and groups including Premera Blue Cross, as well as community volunteers, give their time to the program.

"I think this is such a great opportunity to help women get their feet on the ground," Lawrence said.

Clients come to the Broadway location by appointment on Thursdays. Approximately 120 women a month use the program, which served 1,460 people last year.

Women who come to choose free clothes are asked to fill out a form that asks where they live and their ethnicity but does not require them to list their names. Each woman gets two or three outfits, a pair of shoes, and personal care products in a department store bag.

"Not a grocery bag," Kunz said.

Grateful clients sometimes send notes thanking Kunz when they get a job. When they can, they donate some of their own clothes. Lawrence and other volunteers feel good that they are able to help women in need as well as have fun putting outfits together.

"If I didn't have volunteers doing this, I couldn't do it," Kunz said. "They are the heartbeat and pulse of this program."

Copyright 2015 HeraldNet   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 2289 days ago   Article ID# 41729

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