A new initiative is starting in Simcoe County to help connect men in need with professional clothing to enter the workforce.
The program, which started as a way to provide free work clothing to women in need, is expanding its mission by launching a new organization aimed at helping men.
Styled Right-Work Wear for Men is launching in the Barrie-Orillia area to provide new and gently used professional attire to men.
The initiative, created by Dress for Success founder Linda Reid, has provided free professional clothing for women since 2014.
“There isn’t anything like this in Simcoe County, so the need is very great for folks who are looking for appropriate work clothing. So this is just an opportunity for folks who have the skills and everything to go to work but lack the clothes,” says board chair Carolyn Gibson.
“The mission for style Workwear for Men is to empower unemployed or underemployed men to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and independence to help them thrive in work and in life.”
Gibson says the inspiration for Styled Right came from Reid’s late son Sean, who came up with the organization’s name.
“He was an instrumental part in helping Linda start up Dress for Success. He was the second volunteer, and he helped load racks, move boxes, clean, hang and store clothes, paint, (and do) anything that needed to be done,” Gibson says.
“So when he asked why she started Dress for Success and wasn’t starting a program that helped men, she did promise that one day she would start one.”
The Professional Clothing Assistance Program provides one to two free professional outfits for clients actively seeking employment, having scheduled job interviews, or having an upcoming court appearance.
Once employment is secured, the organization says clients may return to get up to five professional outfits to wear to work throughout the week.
The program offers suits, jackets, dress pants, dress shirts, accessories, and other workwear that is all new or gently used.
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“Through Dress for Success, we often heard a lot of community partners and heard a lot of feedback that they wish that there was something like that for men. So now that we have Styled Right-Work Wear for men, we are offered up and ready to take on the extra need of any men who may be looking for extra support,” Gibson says.
People in need can either apply for an appointment with the organization directly or be referred by community partners.
While Dress for Success and Styled Right are both founded by the same person, Gibson says they are separate organizations, with Styled Right being a not-for-profit, applying for charitable status.
While Styled Right is currently renting space from Dress for Success, Gibson says it is raising funds to create its own location in Orillia.
The group has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money and has several fundraising events planned for later this year.
The program accepts donations of new and gently used clothing on Wednesdays from 12 to 6 p.m. at Dress for Success at Bayfield Mall in Barrie and Hip Chick Design in Orillia from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays.
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