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Dress for Success confidence builder

Jun. 14, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Mary Fels was 49 years old when she found herself single, alone and with little to no worthwhile job skills. Three years later, with the help of Dress for Success River Cities, Fels said she feels professional, confident and capable of acing any job interview thrown her way.

"Dress for Success gave me a hand up when I really needed it," said Fels, now 51, who served as the client speaker for the sixth annual Taste of Independence luncheon benefiting the organization on Friday afternoon at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center.

Dress for Success River Cities provides professional attire, a network of support and career development tools such as resume and cover letter assistance and various job leads to disadvantaged women who are transitioning into the workforce. Friday's luncheon is the non-profit organization's largest annual fundraiser and all proceeds benefit women in the Tri-State.

In addition to lunch, guests were treated to a fashion show with items from White House | Black Market, Macy's and The Pink Pineapple as well as a silent auction and opportunity to win a diamond pendant valued at $1,000 from Pollock's Jewelers.

"A lot of women have fallen on hard times or had a setback for whatever reason," said Jill Penate, a board member for Dress For Success and chairwoman of Friday's luncheon. "Like any woman needs confidence, we want the women we serve to look good and feel good about getting back into the workforce."

Dress For Success not only provides work attire for interviews, but also career coaching and professional development to more than 250 women locally every year, Penate said.

"It's more than just a suit," she explained.

For Fels, who wore her first suit ever to a recent interview that earned her a temporary position, the support she received from Dress For Success, as well as some classes she was taking through Goodwill Industries, boosted her self-confidence.

"I'm still looking for something full-time and permanent," she said. "But, they really build you up. I feel like I could apply for and interview for any job now. My self-esteem is through the roof."

Follow H-D reporter Beth Hendricks on Facebook or Twitter @BethHendricksHD.

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