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Citiscapes1

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Citiscapes1

  1. 1. DECEMBER 2015 $2.50 VALUE P E O P L E • P L A C E S • E V E N T S F O O D • F U N MM XVXX Best Of Northwest Arkansas 2015
  2. 2. 40 | CITISCAPES • DECEMBER 2015 NONPROFIT SP OTLIGHT | BY ADDI SIM MONS | PHOTOS BY R AYMOND H. ETHEREDGE JR. AND LINDA RICHARDS t’s common knowledge that first opinions are formed in mere seconds. For those who are economically challenged and are unable to afford the clothing needed to present themselves professionally, landing their dream job is less likely, regardless of potential. Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas is hoping to help change that by providing women with the professional attire to make it past the first interview and beyond as they attempt to become part of the workforce and turn their lives around. The local nonprofit is helping to give women a chance to land their dream job and provide for their families. Dress for Success NWA’s marketing committee lead, Simona Rabsatt Butler, said the women come to the organization through referral partners such as job placement organizations, abuse centers or other nonprofits. Once connected with Dress for Success NWA, the women schedule appointments with an image consultant at The Boutique, located in Frisco Station Mall in Rogers. From there, they are completely taken care of as the consultants get to know their style preferences and the type of job they are interviewing for. They then begin the transformation process to professionally dressed women ready to take on the working world. Not only does Dress for Success NWA style the women personally and help identify what looks best on them, they also offer to review their resumes and set up mock interviews to ensure that they are prepared and have the necessary skills to obtain the job they desire. “It’s interesting because when they come in they are shy sometimes, and not necessarily self-aware or self-assured of what they want,” Rabsatt Butler said. “But, as they try on the clothes, and our image consultants offer encouragement, they come out of the dressing room and they may like what they have on or not, but as soon as they click with an outfit that they do like, their demeanor, their character, everything about them changes.” Dress for Success NWA is an affiliate of the worldwide Dress for Success organization that empowers women wanting to gain economic independence. Jane Behrends, co-founder of Dress for Success NWA, first heard of the nonprofit when her company did a suit drive, which is one way for businesses to get involved by donating clothing to the nonprofit. When Behrends first moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2012, she was shocked to find that 40 percent of the kids at her daughter’s elementary school had free or reduced-cost lunches. “I couldn’t understand that the economy was that bad here,” Behrends said. “You see the wealth here in Crystal Bridges, in downtown Bentonville and yet, there was such a large number of kids with reduced- cost or free lunches. I was completely unaware of that.” Behrends said she decided to do a bit of research, and she discovered that the poverty rate in Northwest Arkansas hovered around 20 percent. She also found that for women, the poverty rate was higher, at 25 percent. “I thought, ‘How do I get involved?’ Not only how do I get involved and make a difference, but also how do I stop the cycle? Because women are so incredibly important to the household, if we could stop it at the front-end then maybe the poverty wouldn’t be as bad,” Behrends said. Her first thought was back to when the company she worked for did a suit drive with Dress for Success. After calling the organization, she was dismayed to find that the nonprofit was not yet in Arkansas, so Behrends took on the challenge to change that. The Northwest Arkansas boutique SUITING UP FOR CHANGE AREA NONPROFIT HELPS WOMEN “DRESS FOR SUCCESS” 2015 DFS Masquerade Party: Tangel Clinard (affiliate client), Carmen Bauza, Naiema Frieson (board of directors member), Jane Behrends (co-founder, board of directors member), Michelle Gloeckler (honorary hostess), Virginia Germann (executive director) and Stephanie Reibling (board of directors member) I The Boutique, located in Rogers’ Frisco Station Mall
  3. 3. WWW.CITISCAPES.COM | 41 opened its doors a year later, in August 2013. Dress for Success focuses primarily on women, because the organization believes that through women it can make the most change and do the most good in communities. “There’sastatisticthatsaysifawomanwas to gain economic independence, the ripple effect is six other people,” Behrends said. “On average, a woman has three children, so she’s very often the center of the household. The impact that we’re making goes beyond her. It impacts her children, her family, her household and her spouse. So yes, while on the surface we serve women, the impact that we’re making goes far beyond that.” Behrends said it’s important for women to feel confident in order to do well during the interview process, and the entire Dress for Success experience allows women to feel worthy of attention and confidence. “I think most women will tell you they feel significantly more confident coming out of it than going in,” Behrends said. “It’s a very high-end experience. That’s deliberate, because we want them to feel dignified and know that they are worth it.” There’s a cycle of empowering change happening at Dress for Success NWA, and for those who would like to volunteer, suit drives for individual companies can be set up through the Northwest Arkansas affiliate, or donations can be made at The Boutique in the Frisco Station Mall in Rogers. “We are looking for help,” Rabsatt Butler said. “If and when you have the time to support, we are open. There isn’t a role that we don’t need.” ■ For more information, visit northwestarkansas.dressforsuccess.org or, to get involved, call The Boutique at (479) 276-3433 to contact executive director Virginia Germann. 2015 Power Walk in Frisco Station Mall All smiles after the first Power Walk fundraiser event

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