|By Lori O'Brien|
HOLYOKE - An evening of empowerment awaits area women on April 24 as a unique fundraiser titled Common Threads is presented by Dress for Success Western Massachusetts (DSWM).
DSWM, located at the Massachusetts Career Development Institute (MCDI) in Springfield, offers a colorful boutique that provides business clothing to low-income women entering the labor force. Earlier this year, DSWM celebrated its seventh anniversary of the boutique's opening and has dressed more than 1,500 women since its inception.
"One of our goals for 2007 is to dress at least 400 women (up from 372 in 2006)," said Lynn Trelease, DSWM's new executive director, during an interview with Reminder Publications.
Trelease noted she would also like to see an increase in women coming in for second suitings once they have obtained a job.
"Women are also eligible to join our Professional Women's Group (PWG) once they have obtained a job and I would like to increase those numbers as well," added Trelease.
For the past five years, the local organization has also operated the PWG to assist women with employment challenges.
"Making the transition into the workforce is difficult," said Doreen Fadus, president of the DSWM's Board of Directors, during an interview with Reminder Publications. "Women find a myriad of new challenges, from understanding the corporate culture to managing personal finances often with no support."
Fadus explained that the PWG is a networking association for low-income women entering the workforce.
"Career development is promoted by offering new information that will help women unfamiliar with the workplace continue to develop their skills and transition into the economic mainstream," she added.
The all-volunteer board works closely with referring agencies and community providers to ensure that the boutique is full of business clothing and also provides a supportive environment to the women who visit the program throughout the year. Board members include Fadus who is associated with Mercy Medical Center; Barbara Jean DeLoria, United Bank; Jennifer Jodoin, CPA; Della Blake, Western Mass. Correctional Alcohol Center; Jennifer D'Amour, Egan, Flanagan & Cohen; Kelly Galanis, Westfield State College; Amy Vachula-Ganci, Bank of Western Mass.; Jillian Gosselin, Eastfield Mall; Jamie Kynard, MCDI; Carla Kynard, District Court; Krista Mazzuca, self employed; Carin Zinter, Princeton Review; Kate Kane, Northwestern Mutual Financial Services and Trelease.
The fundraiser on April 24 will be conducted at the Log Cabin in Holyoke with a social hour at 5:30, followed by dinner at 6:30 and an inspirational program at 7:15. Guest speakers include Cherylyn Hatchett, director, Dunbar Community Center; Margaret E. Oglesby, assistant chief probation officer, Springfield District Court, and Claire D'Amour-Daley, vice president of corporate communications, Big Y Foods as well as several women from the Western Mass. Correctional Alcohol Center who will share their stories and hopes for success after incarceration
"The common threads event is an evening celebrating appearance, empowerment and self-worth characteristics that enable women from all walks of life to take charge of their lives," said Fadus.
The Board of Directors hopes to raise $20,000 from the event. Corporations helping to sponsor the event include Northwestern Mutual Financial Services, Eastfield Mall, United Bank, Brian and Mary Trelease, Fontaine Brothers and Princeton Review. Proceeds raised from the event will support the boutique and the PWG.
"Area women should support our local organization because an investment in a woman's future will help her whole family," said Trelease. "Many of our clients are the sole supporters of their families, including children, and assisting their family benefits a healthy community."
Trelease also emphasized that the local Dress for Success program is important "because we support the efforts of the employment and training system in Western Massachusetts."
Fadus echoed those sentiments, adding that attending the event "supports the women of the area who are working their way back into the workforce to be able to live independently."
Tickets may be purchased from any board member or by calling Barbara Jean DeLoria at United Bank, 787-1262. The deadline to purchase tickets is April 20.
DSWM is one of 85 affiliates across the country and one of two located in the state. For more information on Dress for Success, visit www.dressforsuccess.org.