WORCESTER, Mass. — These days, there seems to be no shortage of inventory for volunteers at Dress for Success in Worcester, Mass. to sort through. Boxes filled with clothes line the walls of the backroom of the storefront.
And while this might appear to be a typical clothing boutique, it is anything but.
When Executive Director Justina Lachapelle looks around the facility, she sees more than shoes and scarves — she sees opportunity.
"You've got six seconds to make an impression. You don't even open your mouth in six seconds," she said as she walked through racks of handbags neatly organized.
This nonprofit's goal is to help financially challenged women find the perfect outfit for a job interview. Their services and the clothes are provided completely free of charge. They operate in 40 states and Washington D.C.
"Women don't envision themselves as powerful as they are so when they see the reflection in the mirror looking in a way she's never envisioned and it's brought women to tears," Lachapelle said.
As the pandemic wanes, more women are looking for a change in their professional careers. According to a recent Forbes survey, 1 in 8 women are considering changing jobs. Millions more are reentering the workforce for the first time in years, making this organization's work even more crucial.
"We're seeing an increase in the people who are reaching out to us for assistance," Lachapelle added.
But what they're doing goes beyond just clothing. They are also helping women with interviewing skills and building self-confidence long before they step into an interview.
"A woman is now able to say, 'I am an asset; I'm gonna prove I'm an asset,' and she goes in there with confidence," Lachapelle said.