Remarks by Sheri Cole, Executive Director, to the Empowering 18 Tea & Fashion Show audience November 3, 2013
Empowerment has always been central to Career Wardrobe's mission. From day one, we have challenged every woman who comes through our doors to dream big while also giving her the tools she needs to reach those goals... whether it's her first job or the next job that will help her on her career path.
As we celebrate Career Wardrobe's 18th anniversary today, I am aware that in addition to giving this advice to dream big, as an organization we have taken it as well.
Over 13 years ago, the founding Board of Directors took a leap of faith by hiring me -- an untested and young woman -- as the organization's first Executive Director. But even more so, they chose to entrust their labor of love to not only me, but also to everyone who has donated or volunteered. They made the choice to empower the organization to grow.
The mothers and fathers among us will appreciate what it must feel like to see your child - who you have watched take her first steps and utter her first words - drive off with someone else for the first time. Maybe she's going to school on the "big girl bus" or taking her first trip to the movies with friends without you by her side. You trust that she's old enough to make good choices and come back to you safely.
Similarly, the founders of Career Wardrobe entrusted all of us with their organization - their "child" - and I hope they agree that we have nurtured her well as she enters adulthood. Although she's not yet legal to drink, Career Wardrobe is 18 this year and she's empowered... ready to take on the world!
Eighteen years ago the founding Board and volunteers had one goal: outfit women for job interviews and work. This is still the central tenant of Career Wardrobe's mission and programs. But today, Career Wardrobe is a multi-faceted organization whose services only start with the suit.
Annually over 3,000 women look to Career Wardrobe to help them not only with the clothing they need to attend a training program, interview for a job or start work, but also the training they need to thrive in their new position.
• Our Blitz Basics workshops pairs women with volunteers with human resource or management experience to help them get ready for their job search. This half-day course provides an introduction or refresher to how to conduct a successful job search. It gives them a solid foundation and 'jump start' on their job search.
• For someone who needs more support, we provide a 4-course Gateway to Success Professional Development Program which combines job readiness training with communication, networking and technology skills so that women are able to successfully navigate the working world.
• And of course, every woman who needs a cost-effective solution to expanding her wardrobe is welcome to shop at The Wardrobe Boutique, Career Wardrobe's resale store which you will be seeing fashions from today.
The Career Wardrobe's Board and Staff are proud of our accomplishments. We have grown into one of the nation's largest independent community based organization that is helping women transition to work. We have mentored dozens of other organizations throughout the United States and locally in Pennsylvania, sharing our model and helping them to grow.
But we are also looking toward the future and what is next for Career Wardrobe.
This year Career Wardrobe is creating a new Strategic Plan which will outline our path for scaling the Career Wardrobe's programs. We will be inviting all of you to comment on our work and help us as we determine the future growth of the organization.
But we know one thing -- this is an organization that does not exist without everyone doing their part to lift it up. As much as we support the thousands of women who need our help each year, we are supported by each of you!
We thank every one of our supporters for doing what they can to further our mission. Sometimes that's by inviting a friend to shop with you at The Wardrobe Boutique or collecting clothing and accessories so every woman who needs our help is able to find that perfect professional outfit.
On behalf of our staff and board, THANK YOU for every penny, every minute and every article of clothing that you donate to Career Wardrobe. With every donation you make, you are helping another woman to succeed by helping her gain the confidence and experience she needs to successfully find and keep a job.