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.