Dress for Success Nashville, a program through the YWCA, has operated for nearly 10 years. A local affiliate of the worldwide organization, it has helped countless women become financially secure.
“I believe very much in the YW’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and loving peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all,” says Sharon Roberson, the president and CEO of the YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. “Dress for Success is a crucial part of that mission because we do believe that women need support and career development tools to be empowered.”
Women are referred to Dress for Success from one of the Y's many partner organizations in the community. These are women who have a desire to transition to a higher economic level through professional development.
Dress for Success provides the clothes, the tools, and a network for women to help them become financially independent. This, in turn, leads to more security for their families.
A career specialist helps women assemble their resumes. Even if they have never been in the workforce, these specialists help them discover the skills they have and how to market them.
Before an interview, a woman is given what they call a “suiting,” which consists of an interview outfit and accessories. Wearing the appropriate outfit instills the confidence needed to make a positive first impression. If the woman gets the job, she is then able to return and receive a week’s worth of clothing, which she can mix and match as she desires.
Many of these women, says Sharon, have never had anyone pamper them or encouraged them to feel good about themselves.
“We also have a professional women’s group that mentors our clients, because when you get into the workforce, the first step is getting the job, but keeping the job is the second step,” she says.
Some of the women who have gone through Dress for Success and other YWCA programs come back to be mentors themselves. “They are our greatest pride," says Sharon. “There are no better teachers than those who have been there.”
To support this invaluable program, go online to YMCANashville.com/What-We-Do/dfs/. Professional women can donate their time; others can hold a clothing drive, or financially assist the program.
If anyone in Williamson County is interested in Dress for Success, or any women’s organizations as a whole, Sharon says she would be happy to speak with them. “For $250, you can cover the cost of an interview suiting for one client. You can give a woman a new lease on life with this $250.”