As Melissa Tenzer reflects upon her first year as executive director for Dress for Success Mercer County, located on Princeton Pike in Lawrenceville, she is proud of how this affiliate has grown over the past nine years, most especially in 2016. This upcoming year, 2017, DFSMC will celebrate 10 years in this community.
Dress for Success Mercer County is mostly recognized for giving area women a suit to help them gain confidence on their job interview. When employment is secured, they receive an additional five outfits suitable for wearing to their new position.
Tenzer emphasizes while Dress for Success “starts with the suit, we have become so much more. This year alone we served 1,000 women, 400 of whom were in our educational programs including our Latina Empowerment Program, Financial Literacy, Customer Service and our Nine Week Career Development program which prepares our women for the workforce.”
In the Financial Literacy and Customer Service Excellence Program, representatives from local banks and the customer service sector, share their personal stories and experiences with the women as they educate them in budgeting, eliminating debt, savings and investments, as well as the importance of providing an exceptional experience for every client.
Support begins with these classes and the suits, but continues after they receive gainful employment, explains Tenzer. “We offer them a lifetime membership to our Professional Women’s Group. PWG provides clients with practical information and social support network of peers mentors and community leaders who discuss topics in leadership, the unwritten rules of the workplace and civic responsibility among a few.”
Many of the ladies who come to Dress for Success do so during a difficult time, referred to them from over 100 social service agencies including WomanSpace, Arm in Arm (formerly called Crisis Ministries), Isles, and Children’s Home Society who deal with issues such as domestic violence, homelessness, and have fallen on financially difficult times. The women come in looking to make a change in their lives. There is also a Trenton Branch at UIH Family Partners on Broad Street in Trenton to meet women in the community they live.
Magali A., a recent Financial Literacy graduate adds, “The ladies at Dress for Success truly take the time to help us feel and look confident about who we are and what we can do. I had been emotionally locked up and now I can socialize and enjoy my new Job at NJM.”
Their offices are filled with professional attire that is well-organized and nicely displayed making it feel like shopping in a secret boutique. Once a suit is matched up with a job seeker, Dress for Success sends the donor a thank you letter describing who they personally helped. It gives Tenzer endless joy to see people wearing suits and knowing who donated them to Dress for Success.
“Each week you can find our volunteers helping women in our career center, boutique and mentoring within our programs. It is important for our community members to share their knowledge and inspire women to reach higher and dream bigger. We train and encourage our volunteers to use special skills to benefit women and invest in their futures. We empower our clients and they share their stories and give back and mentor others once they graduate from our programs.”
“I feel so blessed in my life and I am honored to give back to these inspirational women. These women are undergoing such incredible issues and have to deal with raising kids, providing for family financially as well as spiritually while taking care of themselves. They inspire me to be better in my life; to understand what others are going through, be kind, helpful and a better human,” enthuses Terry R., one of Dress for Success’s frequent volunteers.
Visit their website to learn more about opportunities to mentor, volunteer, financially support programs and schedule donations.
Dress for Success Mercer County, 3131 Princeton Pike, Building 4, Suite 209, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. 609-896-4112, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://mercercounty.dressforsuccess.org.