" "The staff at the Mount Vernon Career Center believe in the motto “clothes make the person.” They work with many job seekers and see firsthand the anxiety that can accompany an impending job interview, especially when an individual doesn’t have appropriate business attire. They realize that wearing quality business clothing gives a person a boost of confidence that will help them make their best first impression.

The staff at Mount Vernon and their colleagues at the White Plains Career Center, regularly refer customers to the Career Closet to obtain professional clothing at no cost. The Career Closet, located at 303 Quarropas Street in White Plains, accepts new or gently used business clothing that is then offered to men and women in need.

This is the second clothing drive coordinated by the Career Center and the staff plans to keep it as an annual tradition. This year, the staff collected a total of 336 items which included dress pants for both men and women, blouses, shirts, ties, skirts, women’s and men’s business suits, sweaters, dresses, coats, shoes and even accessories like purses and jewelry.

“The Career Center staff hears stories about how a new jacket or pair of shoes from the Career Closet raised an individual’s self-esteem and helped them literally “put their best foot forward” at job interviews,” said Leslie Meggett, Employment Counselor. “That is why we decided to help stock the Career Closet with our own staff donations.”

“We see the difference the Career Closet is making for job candidates we are helping to prepare for the workforce.” added OJ Yizar, Manager of both the White Plains and Mount Vernon Career Center. “It has been a rewarding experience for all of us to gather high-quality clothes and accessories and have them put to good use by others.”

Yascara Maldonado, Site Coordinator for the White Plains Education and Training Center, which runs the Career Closet, is grateful for the support. Individuals looking for professional clothing must be referred by an agency—there are no walk-ins. Each customer can put together one outfit for an interview and five additional outfits if they get the job.

“First impressions are so important. The donations we receive, help individuals create the mind set for success. It is a confidence boost for interviews and employment,” stated Maldonado. “We accept donations year-round but are particularly looking for women’s sizes 10 and up and any donation for men is appreciated,” she added.

Clothing donated to the Career Closet must be in a condition worthy of being immediately used to wear to a job interview. Clothes should be freshly cleaned or laundered and ironed. They do not need to be on hangers but should be folded neatly and packed in bags or boxes that one person could carry. Handbags should be clean, and all contents removed. Items accepted include business suits, pants, jackets, skirts, dresses, blouses, tops and work appropriate handbags and accessories.

Photo:  Pictured left to right - OJ Yizar, Westchester Career Center Manager; Leslie Meggett, Employment Counselor and Project Lead; Yascara Maldanado, White Plains Education & Training Center Site Coordinator; Linda McKinzie-Daugherty, Program Specialist, Employment and Training.

Photo credit:  Sherry Bruck, Harquin

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Risa B. Hoag
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