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Local Charity Helps Job Seekers Dress For Success

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As Billy Crystal’s Saturday Night Live character Fernando Lamas said: It is better to look good than to feel good. That was a joke, obviously, but there’s some truth to the idea that when you look good, you feel good.

And the one place that might be most true is during a job interview. But for some Minnesotans, that first suit or dress is financially out of reach.

Ready For Success is an organization that helps about 1,000 men dress for success every year.

“I never realized there were actual services out here for people like me,” said Gene, one of the organization’s clients.

Gene perused the racks and racks of new and gently used clothing donated by others to find a wardrobe for job interviews, with the help of a volunteer personal shopper.

“I’ll be able to go to my closet and go ‘OK, what am I going to wear today?’ instead of going ‘OK, I’m going to wear that.’ And that’s exciting for me,” he said.

That’s the ultimate goal: to give people like Gene one fewer thing to worry about.

Clients are referred to Ready For Success through one of about 100 partner agencies; you can’t just walk in.  Gary Veazie runs the men’s program.

“We need anything you’d find in a men’s department or a full-line men’s store, including things such as shoes, gloves mittens, hats and, this time of the year, winter coats,” said Veazie. “We have a real challenge with having an adequate selection for our big and tall men. The other end of the spectrum — the men who are slight and short — is also a challenge.”

If there aren’t enough donations coming in, the program has to use its money to buy them, along with personal care items like undergarments, razors, toothpaste, mouthwash and, in the women’s program, makeup.

“The first thing I always say is all you have to here is have fun.  We’re going to help you get great stuff for your interview, and you’re going to be looking great, and feeling so good,” said Jennifer Paffel, program manager for the women’s items. “So when they see all the stuff, and we tell them all they have to have is have fun, they’re very excited to be here.”

It’s the little things many of us take for granted that make a big difference.

“We’ve had multiple participants write to us and tells us that they got the job not only because of their skills but because they were the best-dressed in their interview,” Veazie said.

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