Helping Women ‘Dress for Success’ on LI

The right outfit can work wonders. It can change one’s appearance; it can make or break a job interview; and it can even take confidence to another level. At Dress for Success Brookhaven in Farmingville, this has been proven true by thousands of Nassau and Suffolk County women who have entered the boutique in hopes of changing their lives.

“Each time one of our clients leaves, she just has a new purpose and confidence that really just manifests in every area of her life,” said Executive Director Sharon Boyd. “To be a part of that is just an amazing experience day in and day out.”

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In the past 18 years, Dress for Success Brookhaven and its more than 40 volunteers have suited over 5,000 women across Nassau and Suffolk County. The majority have been single moms. More than 200 local non-profit organizations refer these job-ready women, including domestic violence agencies, homeless shelters and veteran organizations. Some women desperate for help securing a job occasionally also reach out on their own.

Dress for Success Brookhaven jumps into action offering two interview suits—the second is for the hopeful followup interview. “A lot of these women have never owned a suit and they put one on and they are just like, ‘Wow, I never thought I could look so good,” said Boyd. If a job is secured, the ladies can return to receive a week’s worth of work clothes. This includes accessories, shoes and a coat if necessary.

Aside from clothing, these women also get career counseling. This month, Dress for Success Brookhaven is launching a new six-week employment readiness program called EDGE program (stands for empower, develop, grow and elevate). Staff will work with clients to perfect their resume and cover letter while providing mock interviews and a mentor.

"Our volunteers make it happen every day and have suited over 5,000 women from Suffolk and Nassau counties."

“Our volunteers make it happen every day and have suited over 5,000 women from Suffolk and Nassau counties.” image: facebook.com/dressforsuccess.org

The best part? Everything is free of charge thanks to help from the community.

The Town of Brookhaven provides space for the clothing boutique along with offices and equipment. Various organizations, including the Knapp-Swezey Foundation, Allstate Foundation and The Daniel Gale Agency, provide donations and grants. A festive annual fundraiser (this year taking place on May 12), individual contributions and clothing donations are another major component enhancing the boutique.

“When women come in they just feel like they are in a boutique,” said Boyd. “They don’t feel like they are in a thrift shop.”

Dress for Success Brookhaven was the first affiliate to be born out of the original organization started by Nancy Lublin in Manhattan in 1997. Twenty years later, the program is found in 145 cities and 21 countries and has helped close to 1 million women worldwide.

The mission is simple: “To empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the developmentals to help women thrive in work and in life.”

And Boyd, who has been with the organization for 15 years, vouches for this mission wholeheartedly.

Dress for Success Brookhaven is located at 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville.

anna halkidis

anna halkidis

Anna Halkidis is a web editor at Long Island Pulse. Feel free to reach out at anna@lipulse.com or on Twitter @annahalkidis.