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Career Closet seeking donations

Date: 8/1/2013

By Lori Szepelak

HOLYOKE – Virginia Constant knew she wanted to make an “immediate difference” after graduating from Mount Holyoke College and has found that challenge as a VISTA volunteer for the Holyoke Career Closet at Holyoke Community College.

“I knew that I wanted to work with my surrounding community,” she said during an interview with Reminder Publications. “Becoming a VISTA was the best way I saw fit to give back and to help make an immediate difference.”

The Holyoke Career Closet was created to provide eligible individuals with appropriate clothing for a scheduled job interview, internship, work-study, co-op, or practicum, which would increase the likelihood of a successful interview and job placement.

The program is located on the first floor of the Kittredge Center, room 207, at the college on Homestead Avenue, and a new downtown location is expected to open on Suffolk Street in September.

Constant noted she researched a variety of VISTA opportunities and chose the career closet because of the “freedom” to make this project her own.

“I was also interested in helping students and adults applying for work, because as a recent graduate I can understand what a stressful time that is, without the added stress of owning something to wear when you finally get the interview,” she said.

Only weeks on the job, Constant said she has already learned valuable work skills.

“I am learning a lot already but I hope to learn on the job work experience that I can apply to future jobs, such as strong leadership skills, event planning, and a strong work ethic in general,” she said.

Constant noted that clothing and monetary donations are always welcome, and area residents may bring items to the Holyoke Career Closet or drop items off at the Aug. 31 – rain date is Sept. 1 – C.R.U.S.H. Block Party at Holyoke Heritage State Park from noon to 9.

Clothing items currently needed include pants, shirts and shoes in smaller men’s sizes, as well as ties and belts. Accessories for women are always needed ranging from jewelry, handbags, and shoes to new nylons. In addition, plus size women’s clothing is currently sought. All donations must be clean, ready-to-wear, interview-appropriate clothing for both men and women. Donors are also asked to check clothing for rips, tears, stains, working zippers and buttons prior to dropping off items.

“We also accept cash donations because when we have a client whom we have nothing for we go to Goodwill and Kmart to buy items in their sizes,” said Constant. “Although the Holyoke Career Closet is part of Providence Ministries and Holyoke Community College, we do not receive any funds from either party. The career closet is entirely self-sufficient.”

All donations are tax-deductible and Constant sends out a letter thanking individuals for their generosity.

In the coming weeks Constant is gearing up for the opening of an added location on Suffolk Street, as well as the influx of new students learning about the Holyoke Career Closet.

“I am glad that I can help people every day to achieve their career goals,” she added.

For more information, call 552-2564 or visit Email inquiries can be sent to Constant at The program also has a Facebook page titled Holyoke Career Closet.

The career closet is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.