Students help suit local women with professional attire
Posted on 12/04/2015

Madelaine Dagenais never thought her interest in fashion would turn into a project for school. Then again, she probably never thought her school work would end up helping dozens of local women either.

Both have come true this semester.

She, with the help of four other classmates enrolled in the Applied Social Research course of the unique CAPSTONE program, recently organized a women’s professional clothing donation drive at Patrick Fogarty. Thanks to the generosity of the school’s staff and other members of the community, the students collected over 300 items of women’s clothing, including nearly-new suits, business-appropriate apparel, shoes and accessories such as handbags and jewelry. All of it is being donated to Dress for Success.

Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing professional attire they need to help them thrive in work and in life. The Orillia and Barrie affiliate is one of about 150 locations around the world.

“This has been a great experience,” says Madelaine. “Not only was the clothing drive even more successful than I hoped for, I also got to do much more. I helped out with one of the organization’s fundraiser nights, volunteered to sort inventory, and participated in two suiting sessions with clients. That was really gratifying – you could see how happy receiving the donated professional clothes made those women feel.”

Clothing that is donated to Dress for Success is used to suit women who are unemployed, or newly employed, to enable them to look and feel their best for job interviews, or the transition to a professional working environment. Clients are referred to the affiliate through organizations like Couchiching Jubilee House, or programs such as Ontario Works. Dress for Success also offers guidance and support to women in their job search.

Thanks to the generous support in Orillia and Barrie, and the efforts of Madelaine and her teammates, Dress for Success now has an abundance of clothing to suit its clients over the winter months. The affiliate’s next clothing donation intake will be in March 2016 for spring and summer business clothes.