HARRISBURG — Dress for Success has helped more than 8,300 Midstate women prepare for job interviews since it opened the doors in 2007 to its first location in Harrisburg.
Every week, however, they receive questions about why they don’t provide services for men — and for founder, president and CEO Ruth Koup, that meant a community need wasn’t being met.
Now, the organization is beginning Tied to Success, a men’s boutique that will provide attire, personal hygiene products, and resume and interview preparation at no cost starting Sept. 9 at their Harrisburg office on South 10th Street.
The first 50 clients at the new boutique will be veterans referred from the Pennsylvania Veteran’s Chamber of Commerce and their Veteran’s Connection Center looking for assistance with workforce reentry. After that, the Harrisburg center aims to meet needs throughout the Midstate, including Cumberland County, Koup said.
“We’re hoping that we can fill needs here, but we’ll also be accepting referrals from all of our programs in southcentral Pennsylvania,” she said. “We’ve recognized the need for quite a long time. It took a while and some real strategic planning in order to do this.”
The building will feature a separate men’s suite with its own entrance and bathroom, and will provide interview ties, suits and shoes, deodorant and other personal care items, instruction in such skills as how to tie a tie, and resume and interview preparation. Many clients benefit from staff correcting spelling mistakes in their resumes, instruction on how to complete a handshake, and training in answering basic interview questions like “tell me about yourself,” she said.
“We help them right on the spot to be successful,” she said.
She believes there will be interest in the program given the community requests for men’s services and the men — many of them veterans — who have come to their door over the years simply to ask how they look as they prepare for an interview. Dress for Success had arrangements with thrift shops to handle such requests, she said.
“We really thought it was overdue and time to serve men in the community,” she said.
Dress for Success also has offices in York and Lebanon and mobile stores in Cumberland, Adams and Perry counties, but Tied to Success will only be available in the Harrisburg office. The organization’s experience is that male clients generally have better access than female clients to transportation, but if there is a need for other locations, they will look to expand the men’s program, Koup said.
Dress for Success and Tied to Success accept clients from more than 120 for-profit and non-profit organizations, but do not accept clients without a referral, she said. She encourages those seeking guidance or assistance in preparing for employment to contact CareerLink, the Veteran’s Connection Center in Camp Hill, or other organizations for broad-based, long-term support that could include an appointment with Tied to Success, she said.
The new program was made possible through the support of the community, including donations from the American Legion, donated suits from Men’s Warehouse and clothes and shoes that insurance companies provided after receiving them in truck accidents containing the products, she said. More than 50 percent of their items are brand new, she said.
Anyone interested in donating interview-appropriate items — socks and underwear are particularly needed — can drop them off at any Classic Drycleaners and Laundromats store, including locations in Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Enola and Lemoyne.