Goodwill stores can offer quality clothing for job hunters./Photo by Roy Lewis/Washington InformerWith thousands of people in the D.C. region still looking for jobs, at least there's good news for those who need to outfit themselves for interviews, but have to stick to a tight budget.
Goodwill of Greater Washington and ZIPS Dry Cleaners have renewed a partnership to secure professional clothing for those seeking employment. The clothing drive is called Will2Work and it runs the entire month of September.
"Clothes directly relate to employment because people need proper attire to go to work," said Louis Jones, general manager of the Goodwill store on South Dakota Ave. in the District.
Brett Vago, co-owner and chairman of ZIPS Dry Cleaners echoes the sentiment.
"Everyone knows the rule. First impressions count," saidVago. "This is the least we can do to help those in need put their best foot forward."
Donated suits, dresses, blouses and slacks will be provided to disadvantaged adults trying to re-enter the workforce. The goal of Will2Work is to give people clothing options that can be worn on the job or to job interviews.
"One of the biggest barriers to employment for people with a disadvantage is the lack of professional attire to wear to a job interview," said Brendan Hurley, senior vice president of Marketing & Communications for Goodwill of Greater Washington. "The partnership between ZIPS and Goodwill will give hundreds of people in our community access to the clothing that will help secure and maintain employment."
For those who already have jobs, the costs for a woman's suit or dress top out at $8.98 while a man's suit can be bought for just about $16. The simple black wrap dress (shown above) sells for $8.98 at the Goodwill store on South Dakota Ave. A check for a similar new dress on the same designer's website showed the shipping alone would cost $6.
"Our prices usually range from $8.98 to 15.98 for a suit for a man. Typically women can get a professional dress or suit for about $10," said Jones.
There are also many high-end and designer items at Goodwill. Washington Informer staffers discovered an Armani dress and copious amounts of Ann Taylor suits on a recent trip to Goodwill. In addition, Goodwill boasts accessories galore (including a rock-bottom priced Gucci handbag) which can help create different looks to make people think you have more than one little black dress.
Goodwill of Greater Washington not only has a cache of great professional attire, the nonprofit organization also has several workforce development programs designed to put people back to work. The organization offers resume help, classroom job skills training. Goodwill also works employers to develop job preparation programs for positions in specific industries such as banking, building maintenance and environmental services, retail and construction.
The organization also has jobs to offer. Crystal Simms has been working at the South Dakota Ave. store as a clerk since November 2010.
"I was told that Goodwill was hiring, so I came and applied, I got my interview and went to a training class and I've been working ever since," Simms said.
Jones who has worked for other nonprofit service-oriented organizations, said Goodwill is a great place to work.
"It is a great place to work because of what we do for the community. Our thrift stores help benefit disadvantaged or disabled communities. So my labor is giving back to the community."
Throughout September, each of ZIPS' 26 stores in the Greater Washington-Baltimore region, as well as the dry cleaning chain's four stores in Pennsylvania, will serve as drop off locations for clothing donations during September. The participating ZIPS locations include: Washington, DC: Connecticut Ave./Van Ness; Maryland: Annapolis; College Park; Laurel; Lanham; Marlow Heights; Rockville; and Silver Spring.
For complete store information, visit www.321zips.com. More information about Goodwill of Greater Washington is available online: http://www.dcgoodwill.org/