Suited for Success: Growing Nonprofit Helps Low-Income Women Improve Image, Job Prospects

By Page, David | THE JOURNAL RECORD, April 14, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Suited for Success: Growing Nonprofit Helps Low-Income Women Improve Image, Job Prospects


Page, David, THE JOURNAL RECORD


In the mid-1980s Susan Walton learned of the Bottomless Closet, a program in Chicago that provided clothing for low-income women to help them improve their image and employment opportunities.

As a single mother, Walton could see the need for a similar program in Oklahoma City. Her idea hung in the closet for several years before she incorporated Suited for Success in January 1995.

Walton then began working to have Suited for Success certified as a nonprofit agency, but her plans took an almost fatal turn - for she was a customer at the Federal Employees Credit Union in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9 a.m. April 19, 1995. The bomb that destroyed the building left her with injuries from head to toe, including a fractured skull and two broken legs.

Those wounds delayed the start of Suited for Success, but not Walton's desire to help underprivileged women improve their image.

Two years after incorporating, Suited for Success started collecting clothing. It moved into its current location at 1501 N. Classen Blvd. in mid-1997.

Walton views August of 1997 as the real starting date for Suited for Success.

That is when we suited our first client, said the founder and executive director.

Now the organization provides clothing for about 600 women each year. The mission is simple - helping women achieve self- sufficiency.

We are a step in their improvement program, Walton said. They have received their job training and we are the next step - where they learn to look the part.

Each client at Suited for Success receives two complete outfits for job interviews.

When they get a job, they get two more outfits, she said.

Suited for Success has one room where the clients can select suits.

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