Imagine that you’re a single mom with dreams of landing a good job and providing a safe, happy home for your children.
Now imagine that you’re also the victim of domestic violence. That you need to find a job after fleeing your home with nothing but your children and your life — and that if the job requires business casual clothing, you literally have nothing to wear.
That type of situation, and others where a woman might find herself in need of appropriate clothing for that next step forward, are the impetus behind the second annual “Dress for Success,” sponsored by the Brevard chapter of The Links, Incorporated, in partnership with The Women’s Center of Brevard.
The event, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Women’s Center on Aurora Road in Melbourne, invites locals to donate gently used, clean women’s clothing, shoes, suits, dresses and purses suitable for job interviews. Plus sizes are welcomed. Also needed: new cosmetics for various skin tones and cash donations.
Sierra Thompson is director of volunteer management and strategic initiatives for the Women’s Center, whose services include counseling, sexual assault victim services, victim advocacy, prevention and youth services and housing.
There’s a great need, she said, for clothing options for women starting a new life and career path, especially those who might be unfamiliar with — and have no access to — “business casual” attire.
“We have people who are trying to get out on their own, and having that outfit might help them land a job; give them confidence that’s super helpful,” said Thompson.
“Maybe that will increase their income so they can maintain their own household. With Oct. 1 being the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we thought it would be a great opportunity to put the word out there that we’re here to help anybody who’s facing those issues and support them in any way that they need.”
As in 2021, the center is partnered for the event with The Links, Incorporated, an international not-for-profit established in 1946. It’s one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations, with more than 16,000 professional women of African descent as members, in 299 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. Among the notable names who’ve joined their ranks: Vice President Kamala Harris and Rep. Val Demings.
The Brevard chapter has served the Space Coast community since June 1979 and focuses on five facets, said Ena Leiba, chapter president: services to youth; the arts; national trends and services; international trends and services; and health and human services,
“We want to thank the community in advance for supporting this worthwhile event,” she said.
Dr. Ethel Andrews, a Viera-based psychiatrist, is a member of the national trends committee whose other three members are all attorneys. Like their Links colleagues, they’re committed to seeing women thrive.
And the mission of The Women’s Center dovetails perfectly with The Links’ core values: friendship, integrity, honesty, service, commitment, family relationships, courage, respect for self and others, responsibility, and accountability, Andrews said.
Being able to “dress for success” can be of critical importance for job seekers and those deep into their careers, she said.
So, knowing that the clothes gathered the first year benefited women in need, there was no doubt the Brevard chapter would want to step up again, Andrews said.
“The Women’s Center has such an illustrious history of helping women who have nothing … maybe their husbands have thrown them out. They’re beaten, they need an attorney. They need therapy, they need treatment. They need medical care,” she said.
“The Women’s Center has done so much for so long. … there are so many people in this community who have received help from them over the decades.”
Clothing may be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Women’s Center Counseling Center, 1425 Aurora Road, Melbourne, 32935.
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