CW’s “career closet” to provide professional clothes to those in need

By Rick Palsgrove
Managing Editor

To dress for success, one must have the clothes to begin with and sometimes people do not have the resources to make this happen themselves.

So, Canal Winchester residents Bethany Ferguson and Cindi Lynch stepped in with the creation of a Canal Winchester “career closet” to provide free professional clothing to people who are interviewing for jobs or in need of such clothing.

The first career closet will be held March 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hope United Methodist Church 15 W. Columbus St., Canal Winchester. It is the first of what they hope will be a regular event.

“As of right now this is the only scheduled event,” said Ferguson. “Our hope is, as we learn the processes of this type of community support, we will be able to open doors on a regular schedule. We are taking donations for professional wear and have had incredible community support from residents, the school board, CW Human Services, and local businesses. At first we were just planning to make this a one time event, but after the outpouring of support from residents and businesses we are going to make this an ongoing service.”

According to Ferguson, the idea for the career closet arose when Lynch was collecting items for foster families, homeless, and another dress for success event.

“When we realized how many people were donating and what an impact it was making we thought that having events within our own community would be fantastic,” said Ferguson. “Hosting something local would be able to make a bigger impact here in Canal Winchester.”

Lynch said they realized the job market has changed over the years and they wanted to ensure every resident had a pathway to success no matter what career is pursued.
“The nursing home markets are in high demand now,” said Lynch. “These are lower paying jobs. We would like to eventually collect gently used scrubs for these residents. We need to look outside the past ‘career clothing’ and realize times are changing and we must change with them. Casual work clothes seem to be in demand. The actual name of the career closet will be the Canal Winchester CommUNITY Closet.”

Ferguson said the mission is to help people help themselves.

“Cindi and I were both single mothers who used a service similar to this years ago,” said Ferguson. “What a service like this does is empower men and women to feel more self confidence and dress for the job they are needing and wanting to get. Both of us were strapped for cash as young single mothers, not able to afford clothing for a professional setting. Being able to use a career wardrobe with the support of the community was invaluable to both of us. We want to host this service for our community in hopes to encourage successful residents and families.”

Ferguson said she and Lynch are accepting professional clothing donations at each of their homes, at 27 W. Columbus St. and 7574 Embers Lane both in Canal Winchester.

“On Saturday, Feb. 27 from 9-11 a.m. there is a community coffee event at Hope United Methodist with Councilwoman Jill Amos and Councilman Pat Lynch,” said Ferguson. “Community members are welcome to drop their items to community coffee. We are happy to do pick ups as well.”

Items to be donated can include gently worn professional items, both men’s and women’s clothing (all adult sizes), shoes, jewelry, and accessories.

“Ideally we are hoping for people who are in need of professional outfits to join us and go shopping,” said Ferguson. “Other communities host events similar to this, but we are hoping to make an impact in our area. All items are free.”

Ferguson said they are learning about how they can help support their community.

“What has been amazing is the amount of local support we are receiving,” said Ferguson. “This event seems to have grown its own wings in the last couple weeks. Our schools reached out, local business owners, residents, and Canal Winchester Human Services all want to become involved. We truly want to be support for community members who are looking for jobs and help them succeed.”

Ferguson added they have people who are looking to partner with them to help support people in resume writing, Zoom interviews, job searching, etc.

“I cannot say with 100 percent certainty what this will look like in the future, but our hope is to create a service for people to use that embodies the support people may need to get back to work or find their next step in their careers,” said Ferguson. “So a fully rounded scope to help support families to succeed financially by assisting with the tools one needs to find that type of success.”

“This truly has taken on a life of its own,” said Lynch. “The community, as usual, has been so amazing. It is quite humbling. If anyone would like to volunteer to help with the event on March 6, or to help sort or organize, contact me at 614-578-5066.”

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