CONWAY — Women trying to find a new job or start fresh after an abusive relationship often need a new wardrobe, too.
The WISH Circle in Conway created a career clothes closet to help them.
WISH Circle is an initiative at Central Baptist College to provide scholarships for CBC’s Professional Adult Career Education program, which is designed for adults already in the workforce.
The clothes closet is set to open in the spring for women specifically identified by nonprofit organizations as needing clothing, said Amy Reed, director of development at CBC.
Reed said mentoring is under the umbrella of WISH (Women in Search of Hope).
“A lot of single moms don’t have any support; they may not know how to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), how to dress, even for a job interview,” she said. “Then there’s going to be a prayer circle. Women who don’t have money to give financially would love to pray over these women, pray over this process.”
In August, WISH Circle announced it would start a clothes closet to further help women.
“We have partnered with The Salvation Army; they are housing a clothes closet for us that is for women who are looking to go back into the workforce,” Reed said. “They can come and pick out clothing in order to make that happen, whether it’s some ladies who are having to go to court because they’re fighting for their kids, or possibly in an abusive relationship, or needing clothes to be able to interview for jobs or continue in the workforce in a specific job that they might not be able to afford the clothing they need to have.”
A clothing drive was held in October, and another one will be held in the spring, Reed said.
The United Way of Central Arkansas, the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas and a radio station are partnering with WISH Circle, too, she said.
Reed said detailed records are being kept through the United Way of Central Arkansas’ Charity Tracker software.
“We’re taking inventory of all the clothing and putting it in an Excel spreadsheet, and [the United Way of Central Arkansas] has software, if someone calls us and says, ‘I need a size 12,’ … we can pull that inventory and know it’s there,” Reed said.
“[The Salvation Army] is excited about the possibilities that the clothes closet can offer for women to rewrite their future stories,” said Capt. Patrishia Knott, a Salvation Army Conway Corps officer.
“It is an honor to participate with the other organizations. … Together, we can have a lot more impact than any one of us by ourselves,” she said.
Reed said the drop-off location is CBC, and like-new, freshly laundered clothing on hangers will be accepted when the college is back in school after the Christmas break.
Accepted items include two-piece suits — pants or a skirt and jacket, dress pants, dress capris, skirts, blazers, blouses, lightweight cardigan and sweater sets, matching sets of scrubs, dress shoes, steel-toed boots, jewelry, belts, purses, totes, portfolios, and new hosiery and bras in packages and/or with tags.
“We won’t need winter [clothes] right now. We have an overabundance of winter. If [women] want to start looking in their closets at spring and summer, that would be great,” she said.
Reed said anyone who wants to donate clothes may call her at (501) 205-8934.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.