Pardon the Doctor Who reference, but it was most definitely bigger on the inside. Though the chapter we volunteered at wasn’t the largest in surface area, the work we helped with had a much greater impact. The Dress for Success Austin chapter is new and thriving. They house more clothes than they have space for and take on more cases than seems possible. The consistent growth that Austin is experiencing has caused many families and women to fall below the poverty line, no longer able to afford the rising property costs and cost of living. Despite being a recent expansion, the Austin chapter has seen an increased demand from the community it serves. Texas AMA was lucky to be included in such a great and necessary cause to improve the lives of those around us.
Dress for Success is a national non-profit organization that relies on the work of volunteers to help empower women with the resources they need to escape the cycle of poverty in America. Unlike other non-profits leading similar missions, Dress for Success doesn’t stop after providing professional clothing; they also offer career services such as mock interviews, resume building workshops and other forms of support to ensure that clients become and remain employed. Our volunteer leader, Judy Chambers, told us of the policies and overall vision that Dress for Success Austin supports, including a commitment to long-term success for the women they help. They don’t limit their clients, allowing them to return whenever they want to engage with more of their services. Dress for Success Austin provides women with a professional outfit for each new interview and each new employment position. They offer as many classes and programs as the client is willing to take. Many times the road to recovery isn’t straight and requires some adjustment. Dress for Success understands that and attempts to work with their clients to reach that end goal of stability and independence.
Working with regular volunteers at Dress for Success Austin, our members were able to see the amount of passion and dedication every volunteer felt toward the cause. These women were proud to be contributing to an effective program to create actual change in other people’s lives. Many of the other volunteers were even past volunteers who had returned to give back to an organization that had helped them get to where they were. On the walls hung photographs of past women who had thrived after Dress for Success and become top professionals in their companies. Clearly, the work done there had a powerful impact on their lives. Being able to see this and participate in furthering the cause in turn had a powerful impact on all of us, letting us appreciate all that we have as business students at a top university and understand the influence we can have on others.
Article by Shannon Peifer