“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”
Those are the words of legendary Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. They were proven to us at Mothers Matter headquarters on July 18, when we partnered with The Center for People in Transition (PIT) at Rowan College of South Jersey to hold our first “Shopping Spree” – a program for PIT clients and local shelters.
This special event was a project of our ‘Suited for Work’ initiative, which allows women seeking employment, career advancement, or replenishment of work-appropriate wardrobes, to select outfits and accessories with dignity and pride. Our goal was to provide a warm and friendly atmosphere for a delightful, carefree shopping spree.
We knew we’d succeeded when we saw women walk into Mothers Matter with an air of sadness and uncertainty, and leave with their heads held high, empowered and joyful, carrying shopping bags filled with beautiful outfits and accessories.
One woman who touched my heart, came in to find work-appropriate clothes. She is finishing up her med tech course and will be interviewing for a job soon. She’d gained weight while caring for her son as he was dying from leukemia. She also told us that her daughter with three young children was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and is beginning chemotherapy. So, while she was trying on clothes, we quickly made a beautiful comfort gift bag for her daughter. When she walked into Mothers Matter, that woman appeared so fragile and sad. She left with her head high and a big smile.
Mothers Matter Co-Chair Patti Kelly shares her thoughts and special memories of the women she met that day:
Each woman had a story, and each left with a feeling of optimism, knowing someone cared enough to help.
One of our guests had just completed her training to be a court reporter and needed business attire. Another just completed her master’s degree and needed interview clothing. Yet another was a young homeless mother with an amazingly positive outlook. She was starting a new job and getting her own apartment the very next week and had nothing work-appropriate in her tiny wardrobe. The day ended with a woman who sat in her car crying while reading the e-mail announcing the event. Feeling desperate and out of options, she came in. She told us that she’d lost her job and had virtually no clothes for interviews. She’d also just gotten some very distressing news that made it that much more important to return to work.
We laughed and cried with them, listened to their stories and helped them pick out outfits but went beyond the suits, and included our health and beauty products. One guest wanted to know the story of Mothers Matter — why we do what we do — and we were happy to share. She insisted on leaving a cash donation despite our protests. She said, “I just want to help be part of all of this.”
It was truly a special day for our Mothers Matter team and our guests. As our Patti Kelly says, “Helping these women are the reason we do what we do. When our hearts reach their hearts, something truly special happens, and nothing can describe the feeling of joy and love that lingers with each of us long after the lights are turned off and the doors locked for the night.”