Prev Next

Great Women’s & Children’s Charities: I would pay someone to dress me honestly.

By Melissa Summers

I rarely highlight charities on my personal website. This is not because there aren’t millions of amazing and worthwhile places to give our time and money. It’s more that I have trouble narrowing down which charities to share. I start with one and this leads me to another and then I feel like but there’s so much need every where and pretty soon I have a 10 page long post and I know you love reading my ramblings but eventually you have to do other things, like make money to donate to worthwhile charities.

So for today’s Buzz Off I thought I’d share a few I’ve been hearing about in the last couple of weeks. I stuck with (mostly) American charities which help women, mothers and children in need and you can look for other places to give your time, money and gently used items here.

As a 20 year old, attempting to get my first barely professional job with a bank, I wore an outfit to my second interview, which at the time seemed entirely appropriate but as it turned out was not really appropriate at all. This was not because I was disadvantaged or working my way off welfare but because I was 20 and barely capable of putting an outfit together, 10+ years later I am still barely able to assemble an outfit.

I was hardly qualified for this position as a bank teller with a large bank, but a friend of my family was dear friends with the president of the bank, so I was sort of allowed in anyway. I will never forget the incredible humiliation of leaving the second interview in a navy blue blazer and brown linen pants (it was summer!) and having the (sort of unpleasant) HR woman say to me, “Miss Williams, your panties are showing through your pants.”

Oh my God I still want to die when I even type that sentence. How was it possible? How did no one notice this before I got to the interview? Thank God it was a woman. A woman who I suspect was not entirely offended by my visible panty lines but more offended that the president of the bank was forcing her to hire me. Not surprisingly, I became a little more afraid of clothes and job interviews after that experience.

dressforsuccess.jpgWhich brings me to Dress For Success. Dress For Success is an organization founded in 1997 supplying an interview appropriate suit to women referred from various non-profits and welfare to work programs when they have a job interview, preferrably something which is not see-through. The women can then get a second suit or separates when they find work. The right clothes can help anyone in the interview process, I know this first hand. The organization has served over 300,000 women around the world. The organization has also expanded to offer career counseling and a support group for women transitioning into the workforce off welfare.

Amy let us know last week that Laura Bennett from Project Runway is the spokesperson for Dress For Success. Last week was the Dress for Success Send One Suit donation drive. An average of 30% of the annual suit needs are met during Send One Suit week. I missed this week because I was busy blabbering about birthday parties and wallpaper removal. Real nice. But you can still help Dress For Success by reading more here. I love this idea among my friends because a good portion of my girlfriends have lots of very nice suits from their career days before children. Some are still working but have great work clothes from before that first baby arrived and reshaped their bodies.

I’d been thinking a lot about Dress For Success and looking for similar sites. Then Friday night my husband and I watched Chris Rock on Inside The Actor’s Studio and in between Chris Rock’s clever use of the word “Mother F*ck*r” and James Lipton’s dramatic affectation it came to me. Style Works.

styleworks.jpgMalaak Rock, Chris’s wife, is founder and executive director of Style Works. It’s an organization who’s mission is similar to Dress For Success. They receive referrals from 22 different New York based job training and referrals programs, giving image consultations, grooming services, makeovers to in-need women entering the workforce. Dress for Success also gives clients business etiquette counseling and shares interview techniques with clients. I had a hair cut earlier this year and I can’t tell you how it changed my outlook, add to that the eyebrow arch I got a few weeks later and I felt like I could take on the world. There’s no doubt feeling attractive and prepared gives women power and confidence.
You can support styleWorks by donating money so the organization can continue to grow. You can also donate “…new or gently used interview appropriate accessory items, including handbags, jewelry, shoes, and scarves, as well as new beauty products that have not been used or opened.” Check the styleWorks site for the address and for more ways to get involved.

pajamaprogram.gifGoing along with our book charities from a few weeks ago, the Pajama Program provides children in need with new cozy pajamas and a new book as they wait for adoption. Founded in 2001 the Pajama Program is partnered with several children’s welfare agencies nationwide, they’ve also expanded the program sending pajamas overseas to Bosnia, South Africa and Greece among other countries.

To support The Pajama Project you can look at this page for more information. You can provide financial support or send along new pajamas and books to the provided address. Even better, organize a Pajama Drive at your school or with your service organization. Because I love sleep, pajamas are a cause I can really get behind.

cradlestocrayons.jpgCradles to Crayons, founded in 2002, provides low income and homeless children in the Boston and Philadelphia area with everyday essential supplies. It costs $25 for Cradles To Crayons to assemble a package of basic supplies all children should have. After a month of birthdays in my son’s class, including his own, I love the idea of donating a package in a child’s name in lieu (or in addition to) their birthday gift. Our kids are so fortunate, I often question how ‘spoiled’ and entitled they are becoming. There are many other ways to get involved as well, take a look at the donate page for more ideas.

Do you have a favorite local or national innovative charity which helps women, parents and/or children? There’s so much need, I love narrowing down all the choices with ones people have experience with, especially those which are local.

Published March 20, 2007. Last updated July 25, 2018.
Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

icon icon
chat bubble icon