BELLE GLADE — Opening a satellite location amid the COVID pandemic was a gutsy move, but Dress for Success Palm Beaches (DFSPB) was undeterred, bringing its free-of-charge job readiness services and programs for women to the western Palm Beach County communities. The nonprofit began operations here in May, 2021, and this week celebrated its two-year anniversary, using the occasion as a reminder that it’s a valuable local resource for women who are entering or returning to the workforce.
The 1,000 square-foot boutique at 1089 South Main Street is filled with racks and displays of head-to-toe clothing and accessories provided to women who are preparing for job interviews. Not only does a DFSPB client receive interview attire, but upon hiring, she can return for a full week’s work wardrobe. More importantly, the boutique is where clients benefit from professional guidance in tuning-up their resumes, practicing their interviewing skills, and leveraging the internet as they seek out work opportunities. Clients are only accepted upon referral from social service agencies and case workers, and appointments in advance are required.
Fletcher credits Alexandra Ramos, who joined the DFSPB team last March and manages the Belle Glade location exclusively, with significantly broadening outreach to referring agencies in the community. It’s helped, too, that Glades activist Tammy Jackson Moore is in the organization’s corner. She was elected to its Board of Directors last year and has been instrumental in opening doors and making connections with other influentials in the area.
In working directly with the DFS clients, Ramos has become a trusted confidante and advisor. “I get to know them on a personal level, discussing life, kids, goals with them. A friendship evolves, and it doesn’t necessarily end at the completion of their appointment. They know I am here to help them as much as I can. The women who’ve come through our doors and we’ve helped are getting jobs in the school district, medical offices, daycare centers, local nonprofits, retail, and even fast-food restaurants,” she said.
Glades-based Project LIFT, which is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk teens and their families, has referred several of its program participants to DFS. Tequella Collins, director and case manager for the organization’s Strong Families unit said, “Dress for Success is having a huge impact because it’s providing an opportunity for women to find the appropriate clothing and accessories for their job interviews and then for their actual employment. Clients are given a variety of choices and added coaching. So, it’s an empowering, uplifting, and fun experience for them.
In her remarks, Jackson Moore, who emceed the proceedings, underscored the basic donor needs that help DFS continue its work in the area: Time to volunteer, new or next-to-new head-to-toe clothing, and dollars to keep the job readiness coaching programs accessible.
For more information visit Dress for Success Palm Beaches.