Dress for Success Cincinnati is moving to Norwood and announces the launching of a $1.2 million TransformHER Campaign. Pam Sibcy and Lisa Massa serve as the campaign chairs.
After a thorough and thoughtful search, Dress for Success will move in June to 4623 Wesley Avenue in Norwood. The move comes as a result of a forced relocation from their downtown Cincinnati building, which is being converted to residential units.
“While we were not eager to leave our current location and its favorable lease — especially during the pandemic,” says Dress for Success Executive Director Lisa Nolan, “our building was sold, and we had no choice.” “But,” she adds, “we are using this as an opportunity to think and plan strategically for our future.”
Dress for Success is renowned for providing interview attire to women returning to or entering the workforce. The organization’s work also includes a wide variety of workforce development programs that offer a lifetime of career support to women in the community.
The new location allows for headquarter offices, styling boutique, clothing donation center, and earned income venture, resale boutique, Portaluca, to co-locate on one floor — instead of being spread out on multiple floors as is the case in their old location. It also has meeting rooms large enough to host all of the organization’s group programs onsite. “Having such a large space gives us the chance to provide even more seamless delivery of client services and pushed us to dream bigger for ourselves,” said Nolan.
To help raise funds for the relocation, Dress for Success embarked on a TransformHER Campaign — the first funding campaign in its 22-year history. The goal is to raise $1.2 million of which the organization has so far raised $650,000. These funds are needed to relocate the organization to its new home, further develop programs to support its clients and ensure sustainability for the future.
The plan provides the foundation necessary to further help women out of poverty and achieve economic independence. Nolan and her team realized the campaign was needed now more than ever. A recent CNBC report shared that more than 2.3 million women left the workforce since February 2020. That brought women’s labor participation rate to levels not seen since 1988, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Millions of women are being pulled into poverty, forced into looking for work in an environment of tough competition, or both. The impact of poverty on women and their families can be longlasting. Therefore, addressing all women’s needs is central to improving the quality of life for women and her family, future generations and the community.
Take, for example, the story Nolan shared of one woman, Jeweleen Lycan, who first came to Dress for Success for an interview suit back in 2018. Lycan was living in a shelter at the time. Today, thanks to support from Dress for Success, she is working full-time in property management and looking at her future with a career focus. She recently signed up for the mock interview to prepare for a real interview she had later that same day for a position with better pay and benefits.
Lycan is still weighing her options to change jobs but shared that she wore the original interview outfit she got from Dress for Success, which gave her confidence during the interview. Furthermore, she has been clean from substance use for five years, recently purchased her own car and hopes to pursue a long-term career in real estate and property management. She told the Times Gazette, “If I can do it, anyone can. My life has completely changed. It was an illusion. I had to be shown that.”
The Cincinnati affiliate was founded in 1999 by Mary Ivers. It has since served 19,000 women and their families. Dress for Success Cincinnati is still one of the few programs in the region focused specifically on the needs of unemployed and underemployed women and their families.
To learn more about the TransformHER campaign or to make a donation in support of the campaign, go to dfscincy.org/transformher