Fashion with Compassion

Boise Valley Dress for Success Creating Hope and Lasting Change

It is true. Each and every morning we have decisions to make. To get out of bed. To make breakfast, or maybe to awaken others to get on with the start of the day. But there are some among us who are struggling with the everyday routine. Many are women who find themselves in abusive relationships or perhaps desiring a pivotal change in their lives. For them, there may come a day when that everyday routine is suddenly not enough or perhaps, no longer tolerable. There is an old proverb about the risk in remaining in a situation being greater than the risk to change. For those cases, life can become so difficult that the only way left to survive is taking that first and sometimes unsteady step towards change. And fortunately for these Treasure Valley women, Boise’s local chapter of Dress for Success has indeed become that first and critical step towards real and lasting change.

Dress for Success Director, Rachel Flichel knows all too well about how powerful that catalyst for change can be in a woman’s life. Call it kismet, serendipity or just plain opportunity, twelve years ago Flichel attended one of the Dressed for Success’s auction events that involved her professional hockey player husband, an event that ended up forever changing her life.

“At that time, I didn’t really have much of a passion for something other than taking care of my family and being a hockey wife. But while I was at this local celebrity tea party auction, I couldn’t help but feel how incredible this program was. I listened to a story about a woman whose life had been transformed by Dressed for Success and I knew from being from the cosmetics industry the importance of looking and feeling your best and the confidence that comes with that.”

Drawing upon her years as a hockey wife, mom, and former makeup artist for Chanel, Filcher carved out her unique talents to channel her focus on helping others.

“I knew that if this was available to somebody who has been struggling that it could be so life changing.”

After joining the board for Dressed for Success and volunteering, Flichel knew she was smitten and that she had also found her calling. “It was the first time I felt like I had a passion for something.”

Fast forward twelve years, seven of which she has now served as director, Flichel runs the daily operations and of course, their main fundraiser. Though the celebrity tea party auction had been her initial introduction into the Dressed for Success main fundraiser, Flichel realized that many of the attendees for the luncheon would have to leave halfway through the event, not surprisingly, to return to work. 

Says Flichel, “The auction was geared towards the working woman and so I knew if I wanted to include these women, I had to change things up and so I moved it to an evening event. The Black and White Gala. Right away we went from $35,000 from our tea party to last year raising $210,000. This was a huge opportunity in our growth and also how we can really help women in our community and be able to fund more things.”

Set for September 18th, 2020, Flichel has had to adjust the scheduling of the event to meet the unique and ever-changing challenges of Covid-19. Originally slated for April 4th, Covid has forced Flichel to push things forward and adjust her timeframe to fit with these very unprecedented times. 

“This is our only fundraiser, our bread and butter for our organization.”

Though the pandemic has created challenges, it hasn’t thwarted Flichel’s vision for where she hopes to see Dress for Success in the future. 

Says Flichel, “We work with 43 referring agencies here in the Treasure Valley, including Idaho Department of Labor, all different shelters, and all different organizations working with women on the job search side. All of which have been affected, some not even running yet.”

As a result, Dressed for Success has been taking a lot of self-referrals, where women themselves contact the program for guidance and support. 

Says Flichel, “As of now, we are still open three days a week but have also switched to a lot more virtual options as well. We offer different online tools and classes as well as job search engines for women. We also started a Facebook group (Dressed for Success Boise Valley Jobs) where local business owners can post local jobs and opportunities for these ladies.”

Her wish list for Dressed for Success? Says Flichel, “We would love to be in a building all of our own. Maybe downtown Boise in order to have better access for women in that area and also because of access to transportation. Transportation is the number one struggle for women to have access to our services.”

Despite recent challenges, Flichel is committed to reaching these goals as well as remaining resolute in their mission for helping women.

Says Flichel, “A lot of us can see ourselves in these women, we know because of different circumstances anyone of them could also have been us. It’s easy to say ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’, but it is a little hard when you don’t have any boots.”

Interested in learning more about Dressed for Success? Go to https://boisevalley.dressforsuccess.org or email: boisevalley@dressforsuccess.org

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