Suiting Up DC for Success

By LIFT on January 21, 2014

Categories: Events, Our Work

On Saturday, January 18th, 2014 LIFT’s National Office and LIFT-DC had the opportunity to host our first ever Suit Up for Success event, during which community members were able to stock up on classy work attire, eat delicious food, and enjoy family-friendly activities. Our incredible sponsors included Capital One, Fox 5, Walmart, MAXIMUS, Hunks Hauling Junk and Walker Dunlop.

Eboni Boadi, LIFT’s Manager of Individual Giving, took the lead on the extensive planning and preparation of the event, beginning last Fall. On Fox 5’s morning news last September, LIFT-DC Program Manager Brian Marroquin delivered an inspiring call to action for people to donate new or gently-used business clothing to local participating Zips Dry Cleaners. Response within the community went well beyond any of our expectations – we literally had trouble finding the space to put all of the clothing we collected for the event! Officially, we received over 5,000 garments from over 200 generous men and women throughout the DC metro area. Thanks to careful organization, persistent outreach efforts, and a swell of community support, the event was a huge success.

The event was held in the beautiful second floor recital hall of The Town Hall Education and Arts Recreation Center (THEARC) in Southeast DC. Despite the cold winter weather, Suit Up for Success drew a large crowd of guests, who were invited as they entered the recital hall to peruse our organized clothing racks for anything that interested them. Dressing rooms were provided to try on clothing with LIFT staff and volunteers providing support as personal fitting attendants. When people weren’t shopping for suits and work attire, they were welcome to grab a plate of some delicious hor d’oeuvres like mini-crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms, and chicken skewers. LIFT also set up a designated Children’s Corner for families that brought their children. This consisted of a board games, coloring books, and even a silly Polaroid photo booth which had many kids asking how this ‘magic camera’ worked as their picture developed in front of them.

It was all hands on deck for LIFT-DC, with all staff present, including newly hired LIFT-DC Executive Director David Harvey greeting community members and helping direct them to food, clothing, and fitting rooms during their experience. The team is so excited and grateful to have him, and is looking forward to a great year ahead under his direction. LIFT National staff members were also present in full force at the event, providing the gamut of direct, logistical and administrative supports. We were even lucky enough to be joined by past volunteers from the DC and Boston region who came to assist members in finding certain items, trying on clothing, and providing a welcoming environment.

Attendees came from all parts of Washington, DC, some having heard about the event through LIFT-DC’s offices, some through referrals from LIFT’s wonderful community partners such as Bread for the City and the Legal Aid Society, and still others having learned of the event through television spots this Fall and Winter. One of LIFT-DC’s newest members from the Perry School office, who had very recently moved to DC from South America, let us know how excited she was to find high quality work garments as she embarked on the employment search with LIFT. We were also thrilled when a past LIFT-DC member, now employed full-time, came by to wish us luck. When we offered to help him find clothes in his size, he let us know that he had all the suits he needed and just wanted to say hello and show us support!

In addition to providing community members with high-quality clothing, fun activities, and yummy food, LIFT was able to spread the word about opportunities to collaborate and participate in LIFT’s programs through Suit Up for Success. Many attendees inquired about scheduling their first meeting with LIFT after hearing a little bit about what we do. We are very happy that more people now know about LIFT so we can provide them the support to help lift them out of poverty for good! In addition, people inquired about volunteering with us, and others asked how they could support LIFT financially or as partners after hearing about us on the news. This newly-kindled support will definitely be needed to meet the growing demand for our services.

Once again, thank you to all those who made this event possible!