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Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits
c/o The Women’s Alliance
1775 Eye Street, NW
Suite 1150
Washington, D.C. 20006

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1775 Eye Street, NW, Suite 1150
Washington, D.C. 20006
United States

We’re a growing network of career development nonprofits that provide business attire for women and men seeking work, empowering them to economic independence.

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Blog

 

 

Smart & Sexy Day 2018

Ariela Balk, CEO & Founder, Smart & Sexy

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Guest Blogger

Ariela Balk, CEO and Founder, Smart & Sexy 

Support means so many things to me. As a company, we make beautiful bras that support women and help them achieve their idealized physical shape. As a woman, one of my most rewarding responsibilities is supporting other women as they grow their careers and businesses, both financially and through mentoring. Helping shape the future, with more successful women, and women owned businesses is one of the most fulfilling ways to spend my time.

We take pride in supporting women all year round, but in March we get special the opportunity to witness our direct impact first hand. March 13th is officially Smart & Sexy Day and every March (Women’s Month), we team up with The Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits to host Smart & Sexy Day events in cities throughout the country. Smart & Sexy Day Events help give women the tools they need to enter, or re-enter, the work force. There’s more to being successful then just building an impressive resume, it’s about building confidence. Bras aren’t going to change the world, but the confident women who wear them will. Smart & Sexy Day events will inspire women - boosting their self-confidence so that they feel assured, confident, and most of all, employable.

Women who attend Smart & Sexy Day at a participating ACDN location will receive Smart & Sexy foundation garments from Smart & Sexy as well as job seeking skills training from leading local industry professionals and dedicated volunteers. Attendees will also be taught how to shop and build a professional wardrobe on a budget. This year’s events will be taking place at the following locations:

  • Desert Best Friend’s Closet (Palm Desert, CA) – March 9
  • Madelt Foundation (Baltimore, MD) – March 10
  • Bottomless Closet (New York, NY) - March 13
  • Ladies of Valor Empowerment (Miami, FL) - March 17
  • Transforming Lives & Restoring Hope, Inc. (Roanoke Rapids, NC) – March 17
  • Suited for Success (Oklahoma City, OK) - March 20
  • Jackets for Jobs, Inc. (Detroit, MI) – March 21
  • Junior League of Elizabeth Plainfield Career Closet (Cranford, NJ) – March 20
  • WHW (Santa Ana, CA) – March 23
  • Shining Success (Claremont, NH) – March 24
  • Career Wardrobe (Philadelphia, PA) - March 26
  • Tailored for Success (Malden, MA) – March 27

As Smart & Sexy day Marches on, we ask that you take the time to help empower women around you, starting with yourself.

CEO & Founder of Smart & Sexy

Ariela

What does support mean to you? Tell us in the comments below!

[ACDN Interview Feature] Connie Golds, Executive Director, Desert Best Friend's Closet

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ACDN: How long have you been involved with your agency and the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits?

CG: I am the founder of Desert Best Friend’s Closet (DBFC). We are approaching our 10-year anniversary later this year. We joined ACDN in 2011. I attend my first ACDN conference in Oklahoma City and felt like I met the most amazing group of professional women who would help shape DBFC into what it is today.

ACDN: What makes your organization special or unique?

CG: We are the only agency of our kind in our community. I also think what makes us special is that we have grown slowly, but strategically in the past 10 years. We started working out of our garages, then moved to our first space—rent free—after almost 2 years of collecting clothes and delivering to agencies. We now pay rent and are in a more accessible location.

ACDN: How has this work affected you?

CG: When you work in the nonprofit field, you start to see how great the needs are in your community. There are so many nonprofits providing very necessary support in the community.  I am proud to be someone who makes a difference in my everyday life.

ACDN: What is your biggest challenge as an Executive Director <in your role> and how are you overcoming this challenge?

CG: The biggest challenge as ED is not being able to do EVERYTHING that needs to be done. So, I need to pick and choose where to put my time and energy. Sometimes I make the right choice, but not always. I just wish there were more hours in the day!

ACDN: Tell us a success story about your organization.

CG: We are a service provider for the California Department of Rehabilitation. They send us their clients who have a “barrier to employment” and we help lower or eliminate those barriers. Becoming a qualified vendor for this state agency required us to align our policies and procedures with the state of California. It was a daunting task, especially for a small agency like DBFC, but we did it and received a three-year certification.

ACDN: Tell us a client story.

CG: We bring our Job Search Readiness program to the local Dept. of Probation once a quarter. Probation selects who participates. Last fall we met Brandon, 20 years old. Two weeks ago he showed up to “ring the bell of success.” What’s better than getting one job? Brandon had secured TWO jobs! He just beamed with pride when he came in to share his good news. In our business, it doesn’t get any better than that!

ACDN: If it were not for the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits...

CG:  ...I would feel very isolated. Joining ACDN meant that we are part of a larger, professional development organization that provides peer, program and agency support. We would not have grown from a $5,000 annual budget to nearly $200K budget in the last 7 years without the assistance and guidance from ACDN. Plus, they really are a fun group of people whose company I enjoy!

 

Photos curtesy of Connie Golds, Desert Best Friend's Closet

Desert Best Friend's Closet (DBFC) is located in Palm Desert, CA and their  vision is for all Coachella Valley residents to be economically self-sufficient through employment. DBFC educates and empowers their clients for success in employment and life. Founded in 2008, DBFC has served nearly 4000 women and men. They became members of the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits in 2011. 

 

[ACDN Interview Feature] Kathy Warner, President, First Impression, Inc.

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ACDN: How long have you been involved with your agency and the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN)?

KW: First Impression, Inc. was incorporated in December 2015, and we joined ACDN in October 2017.

ACDN: What makes your organization special or unique?

KW: What makes First Impression unique is our attention to servicing the client, we  make sure they have everything they need, including hair and makeup services.

ACDN: How has this work affected you?

KW: Working in the nonprofit sector has opened my eyes to the many struggles others in our community face. I am less judgmental of others and their situations.

ACDN: What is your biggest challenge leading First Impression, Inc. and how are you overcoming this challenge?

KW: The biggest challenge is what I don’t know. I have learned so much about running a business, working with people and maneuvering the nonprofit world.

ACDN: Tell us a success story about your organization. 

KW: Beginning this past September, we have held a sale, to create a revenue stream, which is open to the public and have been very blessed by the response of the community.

ACDN: Tell us a client story. 

KW: We worked with a young single mother of twins recently who was interviewing for a couple of different types of employment. One was with a cleaning service and the other was in the health care industry, in an office, which she was not sure she had what it takes to work in an office.  With our encouragement, we helped to dress her appropriately for both interviews, with an emphasis on the professional position. She was offered a position at both companies, but took the riskier job, partly because of the confidence she had and the confidence we showed in her. 

The following quote, is from her mom, “After my daughter’s appointment with First Impression, she practically floated into my house, filled with confidence and, in her words, feeling like ‘a million bucks’.  The clothing and accessories you helped her choose are perfect for her upcoming interviews, but it is what you did for her self-image that will truly carry her forward.  Thank you.”

ACDN: If it were not for the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits...

KW: ...I would not have the opportunity to call a fellow ACDN member to find out what works for them and have them share all with me.  It is a blessing to have the resources.

First Impression, Inc. (Medina, OH) Photos curtesy of Kathy Warner. 

National Thrift Store Day: Shopping gives you endorphins

Gineyda Diaz, Operations Director, Bottomless Closet (New York, NY) & ACDN Board Member

 Photo Credit: ACDN Member,&nbsp; Career Wardrobe

Photo Credit: ACDN Member, Career Wardrobe

Who doesn't love a good thrift store bargain? Finding that great vintage or previously owned top or pair of shoes can make your endorphins go through the roof. Man does that feel good!  At ACDN, we love when you shop resale because we know that your purchases benefit our members!

Did you know that every dollar you spend at one our member agencies’ resale boutiques goes directly to creating programs that are provided free of charge to individuals entering the workforce?

Half of our members have resale boutiques and 64% host events open to the public throughout the year. So yes! Your purchases can help people starting out in their careers!

Individuals come to our member agencies for clothing and interview coaching and leave with so much more. They leave with the confidence to ace their interviews knowing that they can make the right first impression – and that feels really good.

So go out and shop for that great renewed piece that your closet’s been begging for and help someone get on the right track in their career.

Below is a list of several of our members with resale boutiques. Find one close to you, go shop, get those endorphins going and share your best find from one of the ACDN Member resale boutiques. Use #NationalThriftShopDay and #ACDNResaleSupportsCareers with the photo or description of your great shopping finds.

Happy shopping!

Bloom Marin's Bloom Boutique (San Rafael, CA): http://www.bloommarin.org/shop  

Career Wardrobe's The Wardrobe Boutique (Philadelphia, PA): www.wardrobeboutique.org

Desert Best Friend's Closet's Boutique (Palm Desert, CA): http://www.bfcloset.org/SHOP-for-a-CAUSE1

Charity's Closet, Phil's Closet, Cherie Amour, Charity's First Picks (Savage, MD): http://www.successinstyle.org/charitys-closet/

Dreams to Reality's Dream Boutique (Jefferson City, MO): http://www.dreamstoreality-jc.org

Jackets for Jobs Boutique (Detroit, MI): www.jacketsforjobs.org

The Junior League of Elizabeth-Plainfield's Jumble Store (Cranford, NJ); http://www.jlepnj.org/jumble-store.html

Transforming Lives and Restoring Hope's Lily's Boutique (Roanoke Rapids, NC): http://tlrh.org/lilys/rr

WHW's Deja New (Costa Mesa, CA): http://whw.org/shop/shop-deja-new/

[ACDN Interview Feature] Shanna Moody, Founder and Executive Director, Shining Success

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  Shanna Moody, Founder &amp; Executive Director, Shining Success (Claremont, NH)

Shanna Moody, Founder & Executive Director, Shining Success (Claremont, NH)

ACDN:  How long have you been involved with your agency and a member of the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN)?

Shanna: Shining Success has been open since March 2011. My first ACDN Conference was Fall 2010.

ACDN: What makes your organization special or unique?

Shanna: We are a very small program serving a rural area. We are located on the border of New Hampshire and Vermont and therefore work to engage partners and clients in both states. We recently moved and our new location is in our beautiful historic district. We are co-located with another local ministry and our space is connected to the space next door, which is a third local ministry. We all have different purposes, but we serve many of the same clientele and can greatly affect our community from our central location.

ACDN: How has this work affected you?

Shanna: Working with clients at Shining Success humbles me. It’s easy to get a little caught up in “doing good” but the clients have such heart breaking stories of their pasts. And those stories are usually followed by courageous stories of how they moved forward. It’s our privilege that they have allowed us to be a part of their journey.

ACDN: What is the biggest challenge in your role and how are you overcoming this challenge?

Shanna: Being an Executive Director can get overwhelming... Like one of those circus acts that’s trying to balance all the spinning plates. Learning to ask for help is the key. Knowing I can contact any other member program is a huge help. Locally, joining my local Chamber of Commerce has opened doors for us to build a board and begin to find volunteers.

ACDN: Tell us about your signature event.

Shanna: We have held our "Cinderella Project" event for 7 years. Held each Spring, we host a two day event where over 750 gently-used, formal gowns are available to the community for proms, college formals and semi-formals. This year, Moira, a girl who came to last year's fundraiser came back to speak to guests at this year's event. It’s easy to get too concerned about the number of dresses that go out the door but we have always said that if just one girl finds a dress, then we have done our job. As Moira spoke, she confirmed our thinking. She spoke about her life and the reasons she couldn’t afford to buy a dress. She expressed gratitude about our event and how well she was treated and she ended by saying: “The way I was treated made me feel worthy of the dress I was wearing.” Moira is taking both dresses with her to college this year.  We are sure that the confidence she found goes with her as well because we strongly believe that there is power in a prom dress.

ACDN: Tell us a client story.

Shanna: Erica arrived at Shining Success just hours after she was released from prison. They had provided her an oversized grey sweat suit and a pair of cheap shower shoes. She is faced with rebuilding her life and didn’t even have a clean bra. During her appointment, we talked about all the tasks she had to accomplish over the next few days. She was so hopeful. She left with 3 or 4 outfits that could be used for job interviews and other important meetings. She also left with a brand new bra thanks to ACDN sponsor, Smart and Sexy. She was thrilled with her clothes and kept saying, “I can’t wait to come back and help you!! I’d love to volunteer.”

ACDN: Being a member of ACDN enables our agency to…

Shanna:have buying power for plus sized clothing and gain credibility by being a member of a national organization. It also enables us to visit wonderful cities and see fantastic closets at conference every year!!

If it were not for ACDN…

Shanna: ...Shining Success would not exist. ACDN was there for us before we even opened our doors. Every person is ready and willing to share knowledge and information. I love that there is no secrecy and that all the agencies are willing to help each other. It’s the support from all the other member programs that keeps our small program running.

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ACDN’s Interview Feature showcases ACDN Member leaders. This includes founders, executive directors, and program managers. The interviews offer a more in-depth perspective on the critical work our member agencies do throughout the year and demonstrates the impact on their community.