Charity now has more room to help women

MILL CREEK — The YWCA’s Working Wardrobe received a face-lift and can provide 50 percent more clothing for women in need thanks to the Mill Creek Women’s Club.

Working Wardrobe is a clothing boutique at the YWCA building on Broadway in Everett. The program provides free work-appropriate clothing and accessories for women trying to re-enter the work force — many who are overcoming hardship.

More than 30 Women’s Club members and their husbands volunteered 350 hours to renovate the facility; they completed the work in late January. The Women’s Club raised more than $9,000 to pay for the renovation project in one morning during a holiday auction.

“The whole club needs to be recognized for their generosity,” said Pat Lawrence, club member and project manager.

That money paid for 23 sturdy clothing racks, improved lighting and dressing rooms, larger mirrors, paint, shelves and a carpet cleaning. The remaining money was donated to the YWCA of Snohomish County to spend on Working Wardrobe.

Lawrence said she was inspired to spruce up the facility and use space more efficiently after seeing the Dress for Success Boutique at the Seattle YWCA headquarters. Clients only have one hour to put two to three outfits together and are often “shopping” with a handful of other women. The new 31-inch aisles will make it easier to see clothing and sort through it.

Luanne Kunz, YWCA community affairs coordinator, said she’s fortunate the Women’s Club members have been a part of her life for a long time.

“They’re an ambitious group of women,” Kunz said. “As a nonprofit, you learn to take things as they are and be excited with what you get. When the Mill Creek Women’s Club took us on, we were in awe.”

Kunz said the clothing and accessories help lift women’s self-esteem as well as prepare them to re-enter the work force. The program has created a symbiotic relationship with the community, she said.

During an appointment, clients try on clothing and hear a chorus of women offering compliments and gentle recommendations if something does not look flattering, Kunz said.

The clothing is wrapped in tissue paper and placed into shopping bags from places like Nordstrom’s, Coach and Anne Taylor rather than plastic shopping bags.

About two dozen club members volunteer twice per week to sort and display clothing and “shop” with clients. Up to five clients are allowed in at a time and approximately 30 clients show up each week. Clients are referred through their case manager and have to schedule an appointment.

Kunz said YWCA can’t undo years of emotional damage women have experienced. But YWCA programs like Working Wardrobe offer positive energy and resources for women to move forward.

“She can be at the bottom of her ladder,” Kunz said. “The only way is up with us.”

To learn more

Last year, Working Wardrobe volunteers served more than 1,450 women between the ages of 18 and 60. For more information, to schedule an appointment or to drop off donations, contact Working Wardrobe at 425-258-2766.

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