BY MICHELLE MASTRO
Since opening its doors in 1998, My Sister’s Closet has helped low-income and at-risk women dress for success. But the nonprofit organization does more than provide suitable workplace attire. “We teach women how to market themselves, how to be professional and fit into the culture of the job they are applying for,” says Sandy Keller, founder and executive director. “The fear of fitting in is one of the biggest concerns the women visiting the store need to overcome.”
Keller says the organization’s programming has more than quadrupled in recent years and finding out the organization will be forced to seek a new location may offer a bit of a silver lining, allowing My Sister’s Closet to expand even more.
“We were told by the county commissioners’ office in January that our lease will end by October 2019,” Keller says, “Finding a suitable location that falls in our budget has been challenging. We are a small organization that does some really big things.”
Investment in women’s success through free educational programming is a staple. “We created our Ready-2-Work program to teach low-income and at-risk women transferrable skills for many 21st century jobs,” Keller says.
And through the store’s Success Institute, women learn the basics of the interview process, practice interview questions, and develop resumes under the tutelage of job advocates and success mentors. “We offer life-skills training,” Keller explains. “We teach them how to smile and make eye contact in the workspace, and how to carry themselves professionally. These are all life skills that they may not have developed because they had never been exposed to situations where they could acquire them.”
After the move, the organization hopes it will have the additional space to develop Frankie’s Closet, which would offer free clothing to the children of their clients.
Keller estimates the organization will need to raise $150,000 to acquire a new building with the necessary amount of space.
Eighty percent of the My Sister’s Closet budget is met through clothing sales. “People wanting to help can come by our store or donate,” Keller says. “There are so many ways to help. Perhaps you could invite us to give presentations about the work we do or hold an event in our honor.”
For more information, visit sisterscloset.org.