Sister’s Closet clothes help new job seekers |

Sister’s Closet clothes help new job seekers

Jennifer Rachel Baumer

Our Sister’s Closet is a conceptual, not physical, closet.

It’s the name, concept and event created by Professional Saleswomen of Nevada a luncheon fashion show and clothing drive this month to gather “gently used” business clothing for women reentering the workforce.

Inspiration for the program came at a PSN board meeting as members discussed closets full of clothes they no longer wore.

Linda Rice, president of PSN, had heard of organizations that collect business suits to give to women going back to work after leaving domestic violence situations and the like.

“When women leave such situations, they usually do so with nothing in hand but their children, and they have to start all over again,” says Rice.

PSN set about to gather a wide variety of clothing in all sizes and assist in distribution.

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PSN hopes to provide outfits for interviews and the first weeks on the job, creating a sense of value and self-worth in women returning to the workforce.

“If you can’t feel good about yourself when you walk in and apply for the position, it’s going to effect how the interview goes,” says Rice.

“If we can empower just one woman, make one woman feel stronger and better about herself, then this is a tremendous success and we’ll be thrilled.”

Initial research proved there wasn’t an organization such as Our Sister’s Closet in the area.

Good Shepherd’s Clothes Closet in Reno turned out to be the closest match and a good bet to receive the donations, so a partnership was developed.

Good Shepherd’s, nearly nine years old, grew out of the need for a clothes bank similar to a food bank, an organization that would give clothes away rather than charging what most thrift stores do.

Lillian Howe, along with her husband Fred, has grown Good Shepherd’s from a $1,000 start to a nonprofit organization with a $70,000 annual budget from grants and donations.

“We work with over 176 agencies, schools and churches that provide people with vouchers to come to us,” says Fred Howe, development director.

“We don’t determine need.”

Good Shepherd’s provides clothes for men, women and children and in 2003 served almost 25,000 people.

“We’re running ahead of count, maybe 15 percent ahead of where we were last year at this point,” says Howe.

“If it keeps on like this I think we’ll be close to 28,000 people in 2004.”

Professional Saleswomen of Nevada is a 17-year-old organization for local businesswomen who meet monthly at luncheons to listen to inspirational and educational speakers and to network and encourage each other in both their personal and professional lives.

PSN wants to make a difference and community service is part of their mission statement.

“If all we do is sit around and try to make our businesses better and the only thing we focus on is the bottom line, I think we lose in the end,” says Rice.

PSN has partnered with other businesswomen’s networking organizations to create Our Sister’s Closet, including American Business Women’s Association, and is already looking ahead to next year’s event.

“We’ll start earlier next year and plan better, because the response from the community has been so huge and overwhelming,” says Rice.

“And we might do it on a weekend, when there’s more time than an hour and a half lunch, because the response has been so great we think we could have an even more effective event in the future.”

Donations of professional attire can be made at Good Shepherd’s Clothes Closet, 810 E.

Second Street; its phone number is 348-0605.