MICHELLE KING IS A FIRM BELIEVER THAT THE SUIT IS JUST A SMALL PIECE OF WHAT DRESS FOR SUCCESS COLUMBUS MEANS TO THE WOMEN AND COMMUNITY IT SERVES . . . Michelle says she was immediately drawn to Dress for Success Columbus when she learned about its impact on women, and she didn’t hesitate to become a volunteer. She has always been amazed by the relationship women have with clothing and how this can affect someone’s identity and self-esteem, so working with clients to select their interview and employment clothing was especially rewarding for her. She loved the connection she made with the mission and women served, she says. When a position opened up for a contributions coordinator at Dress for Success Columbus, Michelle once again jumped at the opportunity to be involved and submitted her resume. In the job for a year, she recruits and coordinates volunteers, coordinates donations and works with the women that come to the boutique. “I am honored to share the stories of our sisters with each volunteer and donor I touch,” Michelle says. JESSICA LABARGE COULD HAVE NEVER IMAGINED THE DIRECTION HER LIFE WOULD GO WHEN SHE STUMBLED UPON A DRESS FOR SUCCESS COLUMBUS JOB POSTING . . . As a Strategic Communications graduate from The Ohio State University, she had taken a job after college that fit her degree, but found herself unhappy and looking for an opportunity for change. Jessica was immediately drawn to the mission of the organization, and she quickly learned during her first interview with Vicki Bowen Hewes that the executive director’s passion and drive to uplift and empower women on their journey was closely aligned with her own life mission. Their connection solidified the position for Jessica and she began working part-time as the agency’s contributions coordinator. Through just a year and a half on the job she has witnessed many changes at Dress for Success Columbus, including an increased number of volunteers and partnering agencies as well as more overall involvement from the community. She’s also had a change in title. Jessica now serves as program services coordinator, which she says allows her to work closely with clients and social service agency partners. In the process, she has also learned about grant writing while looking for new opportunities for the agency. But working with volunteers, her coworkers and the women in the Dress for Success Columbus community are the highlight of her career, Jessica says, because they inspire her. She is a firm believer that life is full of ups and downs and more often than not, things don’t go the way you would like. However, she says it’s important to pick yourself back up again because you will find something that will work if you keep trying. For Jessica, she has developed a greater appreciation for her own life and journey through her work at Dress for Success Columbus. She feels her work is personally and professionally rewarding, and has taught her that life is dirty and messy, and even if you “follow all the steps perfectly”, you won’t always get the perfect outcome—and that’s ok, she says. Sometimes the unplanned path in life can be the most rewarding and fulfilling choice. - Courtney Morse “I first learned of the Dress for Success Columbus affiliate several years ago and welcomed the opportunity to contribute (give back). Later, I was invited by Toni Cunningham (who currently serves as board member) to facilitate a breakfast club meeting through the Going Places Network and fell in love! In 2013, I began serving as the INNERWork Faith Based Initiative Coordinator and one year later was appointed as a full-time team member, serving as the Director of Career Development. This new position is gifted from God as I am functioning in promise, purpose and passion!” - D Malone Jones, director of career development To Michelle, it is amazing to see how even a small interaction with a client can impact the woman’s day, outlook and sometimes even their lives. She recognizes that the women that come into the boutique have skills; they often just need a boost of confidence. In many ways, Michelle can relate to the women in transition. She had previously split her time between working a job in sales and volunteering. Eventually, volunteering alone just felt like it wasn’t enough, she says. Like many of the clients she’s worked with, she felt intimidated to make the transition. “You have the strength to transition,” she says, “You just need the determination to get there—I won’t lie, it’s tough but I am happy I stuck with it.” Michelle believes it is vital for women to network and support one another to reach their goals – something that being part of the Dress for Success sisterhood is all about. - Courtney Morse THE EMPOWERMENT TEAM | 4

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