Alisha S., a Bottomless Closet alumni, just celebrated her one-year anniversary as a residential aide caseworker at a leading NYC non-profit agency and the largest provider of shelter for homeless families in the City. Alisha is now providing the same kind of TLC she received at Bottomless Closet, helping homeless women and their children get a roof over their heads.
Alisha, who first visited Bottomless Closet when she needed new work clothes – “I had significant weight loss and needed new clothes to wear,” she recalls – and help with resume prep for an interview with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Through that interview, Alisha was referred to a networking event and from that chance invitation, she made a valuable connection that led to a job.
Before she landed her current job, the positions she interviewed for were not in areas she was personally interested in, like retail or childcare. “I finally settled into a position where I could utilize my associated degree in HR and it feels secure and stable with benefits,” said Alisha.
In her new position, Alisha is part of a team that helps close to 12,000 homeless women and their children each year. “I have referred other women [to Bottomless Closet] and the workshops (resume writing, owning my store, job development, development comfort and confidence) were all very helpful services,” she said. “Women come to Bottomless Closet with their head hanging down and leave proud, confident and determined to look great,” continued Alisha. “It is a very clean and professional environment where volunteers take you where you need to be.” Alisha is now looking forward to completing her college degree. “I have so much more confidence in myself and not afraid anymore to take on challenges and seek advancement opportunities as a caseworker.”
Sharifa is our #WomanCrushWednesday because just look at how FAB she looks! After her session she wrote: “I just want you to know I love what this company is doing and I am absolutely appreciative for the help and resources I have obtained today.” You’re so welcome – we can’t wait to celebrate with you when you get that job! #WCW #womenhelpingwomen #changinglives #womenempowerment #jobseeker #getitgirl #charity #nonprofit #makeover #beforeandafter #work #style #fashion #strongwomen #gooddeeds #dogood #givingback #donate #donations #donationsneeded #donationswelcome
In case you missed our #ThrowbackThursday yesterday, here it is for #FlashbackFriday! Recent client Rhonda told us: "From the moment I walked in the door, I was treated like royalty. This is the first picture I have liked of myself in years. My career coach was THE BEST, and everyone really helped me. This was truly a lovely experience." We know you'll take that confidence with you right into your job interview, and we can't wait to celebrate when you get the job! #changinglives #fbf #icymi #womenhelpingwomen #payitforward #jobseeker #tbt #nonprofit #charity #donations #donationsneeded #bosslady #donationswelcome #getitgirl
words from a client
“THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT JOB YOU HAVE DONE AND CONTINUE TO DO WITH WOMEN LIKE MYSELF, WHO IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE FIND OURSELVES IN SITUATIONS WE NEVER DREAMED OF BEING IN. BOTTOMLESS CLOSET RETURNED SOMETHING TO ME I DIDN’T REALIZE I WAS MISSING… HOPE”!
“THE ONE TO ONE MENTORING AND FASHION MAKEOVER WAS MORE REJUVENATING THAN A DAY AT THE SPA!”
“WORDS CAN’T DESCRIBE THE FEELING THAT YOU GIVE PEOPLE AS THEY WALK THROUGH THE DOOR!”
Katherine A., a mother of three, gave up both her career and her home to take care of her grandmother when she became ill. “I knew that I wanted to care for her through the end of her life, but I also know there would be many sacrifices,” recalled Katherine. “After my grandmother passed, I had a seasonal job working for the Parks Department, which required me to seek a permanent job,” continued Katherine. One of the women she encountered at the job placement office connected her with Bottomless Closet. “I was so nervous the day I arrived for my appointment and didn’t know what to expect,” remembered Katherine. She encourages other women considering visiting Bottomless Closet to be open-minded. “It really is there to empower and inspire you,” she adds. After getting new clothes in the boutique, they moved on to reviewing and updating her resume, which Katherine says she still uses today. “The coaching was so helpful because my interview skills were a tad bit rusty,” she said.
The following week, Katherine interviewed for a position with a better career path at and she still works there today, a year later. “I always believed in myself and Bottomless Closet reminded me of who I am at just the time when I needed support to get back on the path I strayed from. Some places are just words, but at Bottomless Closet you feel the support and the values,” said Katherine.
My Name is Latisha B. I graduated Healthcare Training Institute in November 2015 as a Patient Care Assistant. I then searched for employment for months. I was an active member at Jobs Plus, filling out applications and going on interviews. I began to get discouraged. I told my advisor at Jobs Plus I didn’t have anything to wear to my upcoming interview and she referred me to Bottomless Closet.
When I walked into Bottomless Closet, I said to myself “what am I doing here, it’s not like I am going to get a job”. These women saw my spirit was down and at first sight my Employment Coach held my hand and told me “everything will be O.K. you’ll see.” They helped me pick out beautiful outfits and helped me with my resume and my Employment Coach said “all this excellent experience and education, the position is yours ‘claim it’.” The women at Bottomless Closet were patient and courteous. They lifted my spirits. I felt that Women Power I needed.
I pushed myself beyond my own negativity and began to be more positive. I began to job search on my own, outside my school career advisor, outside Jobs Plus. I applied for jobs every day… I walked into local medical offices with my resume and dressed for an interview.
Two months later I received a call and was chosen for the position. I am a proud Medical Assistant/Patient Care Associate for the RYAN-NENA Community Medical Center. My job is around the corner from my home. I have benefits. I feel good about my success and my future because I know I worked hard to get here!
MOVING UP AWARD & FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AWARD RECIPIENTS 2015
Each year Bottomless Closet highlights the great successes of our clients with the Moving Up Award and the Financial Independence Award. The Moving Up Award is presented to a client who has demonstrated success in her professional development. The Financial Independence Award recipient is a woman who has successfully reached and exceeded her financial goals.
The 2015 Financial Independence Award was presented to Zoe S. Zoe overcame addiction and homelessness to become a substance abuse counselor. She attended all of the financial management workshops available at Bottomless Closet, applying what she learned to her life, and became completely debt free in 2015!
Barbara D. was awarded the 2015 Moving Up Award. Barbara attended a Career Day in 2015 hosted by JC Penney. She was inspired by the employees she met and applied for a job at the company. Barbara was hired and is now employed full time with a flexible overnight schedule that allows her time to continue her studies. She attributes getting this job to the lessons learned in Bottomless Closet’s Professional Development Series of workshops.
words from a client
“I WAS SO GRATEFUL TO BE MADE TO FEEL LIKE A LADY AGAIN. IT HAS BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME THAT I HAVE CARED FOR MYSELF”.
Bonita arrived at Bottomless Closet through a referral from Workforce 1 in August 2009. She had participated in a three-week customer service training for corporations and was gearing up for an interview. She was familiar with Dress for Success but she was not sure what to expect from Bottomless Closet when she arrived to her first appointment. A discouraged independent woman with difficulty finding job prospects after the economic downturn, she felt she had nothing to lose.
A volunteer at the organization outfitted her with professional attire – in navy. To Bonita, Bottomless Closet filled a void. “It is not so much only clothing. People there care and reminded me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that I don’t have to accept things as they are but if I hang on and persevere, they will help me get to where I want to go.”
Bonita is now a marketing consultant for a security company and a certified personal trainer. She thanks Bottomless Closet for giving her the resources and encouragement making it easy to have a purpose to walk out every day. Bonita remains a part of the organization’s community by participating in workshops and attending luncheons where she occasionally struts the catwalk to benefit the organization.
The impact of our 15 years could not be better portrayed than through the words of our clients. Teshia, a client, returned for a post-hire appointment after a challenging job search.
“It has been a long journey for me. I returned to New York after almost 20 years. The transition did not go as smoothly as I’d hoped, but I didn’t give up. I found myself on public assistance and in a shelter at one point. Fortunately, I have a good friend who is allowing me and my son to rent a room.
I never thought that at my age I’d be starting over again or that it would be so hard to find a job… I worked here and there but didn’t have any luck finding long term employment. So I took some computer classes that I needed in order to make myself more marketable, I became certified in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint with a working knowledge of Excel and I interned at the school helping other adults like myself to learn or improve their computer skills. I realized there are a lot of people like myself that have become displaced in this economy.
In September of 2013 I started working for the New York City Parks Department in a job that I never saw myself doing, which was cleaning and maintaining a park. It has been a very humbling experience. My job developer knew that I was qualified to do other things so she had me applying to all Direct Care job listings, but I didn’t have a suit for job interviews. I had some business casual clothes but no suits, and she gave me a referral to your organization which I had no idea about. I had my doubts that you would have anything that would fit me because I’m a full figured woman. But low and behold! Y’all had an excellent selection of clothes in my size, and accessories. I was so happy. But that was just a part of the experience. Not only did I receive the clothes, I received interview counseling. I didn’t realize that I needed it because I’m a pretty confident person, but I was rusty and hadn’t had a serious interview in years. It was invaluable. The questions I was asked during my interview session at Bottomless Closet helped prepare me for the interview I had. They asked me some of the same questions and I was ready! Yes! Again I want to thank Bottomless Closet from the bottom of my heart. You are an organization that is making a difference in peoples’ lives.”
Sherry is a single mother of two who drove from Nashville, TN to New York in 2006 to start a new life with her children. She was referred to Bottomless Closet through St. John’s University Advantage Academy. She came to the organization in May 2012 already set up with a job interview. She needed to look professional.
Sherry didn’t know what to expect from Bottomless Closet. She thought she would be going to a thrift shop. What she experienced was akin to a “personal shopper boutique”. She left in high spirits with her outfits. In addition to the clothing, her confidence was boosted by the staff and the volunteers, which she had not expected. Sherry says that the organization “went above and beyond her expectations”. It gave her the resources to “look the part” for her interview and she landed the job in early July. Sherry returned to Bottomless Closet at the end of July for more office gear.
To Sherry, the organization means success and positivity. “Bottomless Closet made me realize that I can do it, I can make a positive change in my life and that they will be there to help me attain my goals. BC also reminded me to keep my head up high and hang in there because things do get better.”
Sherry works as a career and educational consultant at a company which is partnered with the City of New York. She continues to be a part of the Bottomless Closet community by referring new beneficiaries to the organization.
Donna was a victim of domestic abuse from her husband of over twenty years. Her self-esteem, sense of independence and cheerfulness had gone from her life. Donna wanted to pull herself out of the abyss and begin life fresh. When she got a job interview in 2009, Migdalia from Goodwill Industries referred her to Bottomless Closet. Donna thought she would be grabbing clothes and returning to her shelter. She wanted to prepare for her interview.
On her first visit, she told Phyllis White she needed a power suit because she wanted to get back on track and get the job. Phyllis nodded, went to the clothes rack and had Donna try out a navy blue Ralph Lauren suit, a beige Tahari suit and navy tasseled Ferragamo shoes. When Donna put the clothes on and saw her reflection in the mirror, she jumped up and down and smiled for the first time in years.
“The clothes gave my self-esteem such a boost, I felt human, it gave me the start back into my life again and I felt like a million bucks!” Of that experience Donna says, “Phyllis came to geese me up, and brought my self-esteem up when I thought I was only getting one outfit. I was in heaven!” She is grateful for Bottomless Closet for providing her with much needed support when she was at her most vulnerable. “They don’t have to do this but they do it and give people like me the best of the best and had faith in me. I got my life back, self-esteem and a whole new outlook on things, thanks to Bottomless Closet.”
Donna is an advocate for battered women. She continues to be part of the organization and participates in events and workshops. Donna is now an IT trainer in the healthcare industry. Her motto is “life is a pancake, flip it!”.
When Tina Cooper finished an advanced legal office assistant program at FEGS in
Manhattan and then lined up interviews, she came to Bottomless Closet. “I had no income at all when I went to Bottomless Closet,” says Tina. “I had three children, bills, rent. It was my family who kept me going through this time.” After working with Bottomless Closet volunteers to find an outfit and prepare for her interview, Tina secured a job with the legal firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where she continues to work today.
Tina is a self-proclaimed Bottomless Closet regular. She says she has missed only two of the seminars Bottomless Closet has ever given, because, she says, she finds the seminars informative and helpful. “Everyone at Bottomless Closet is doing her best to bring together professionals who help women advance their careers. I have been in the workforce some thirty years, and I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of Bottomless Closet’s seminars,” says Tina.
Lately Tina has become even more involved at Bottomless Closet. She now does volunteer computer work at Bottomless Closet and chairs a new client committee that she hopes will get Bottomless Closet clients even more involved with the organization and will rally support for future Bottomless Closet activities.
words from a client
“YOUR ORGANIZATION WAS A VITAL COMPONENT IN HELPING ME ACHIEVE MY GOAL OF GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT IN THE FIELD I LOVE”.
After 8 years at Verizon, Acquanetta B. accepted a buyout to escape an increasingly stressful environment. Her abusive husband was also her co-worker and the domestic violence was exacerbated by their joint work environment. She moved in with her grandmother who was her only support system during this hard time. Unfortunately Acquanetta’s grandmother passed away and she found herself alone to deal with her divorce. Battling depression, Acquanetta ended up in the NYC homeless shelter system.
At the age of 40, Acquanetta turned things around and enrolled in college to pursue a degree in psychology and teacher education. Acquanetta came to Bottomless Closet in June of this year. She received interview clothing, reviewed her resume and prepared for her interview with an Employment Coach. Her scheduled interview was for a Teacher’s Assistant position at a childcare center. However, the Director of the center saw something special in Acquanetta and hired her as the Assistant Bookkeeper instead. The Director felt that Acquanetta’s personality and communication skills would be well matched to the parents of the children in the program. She was employed once again
Acquanetta says she hopes her story “inspires others who are going through the same situation to be strong and never give up … I think Bottomless Closet is wonderful; the staff is very warm and kind. Bottomless Closet promotes self-esteem, confidence and strength, which is exactly what I needed!”
“There’s always a solution,” says Annie Harris, “as I learned studying math in grade school. You may not see it right away, or for a while, but there’s always a solution.” Annie’s positive approach to life was severely tested on September 11, 2001. Pregnant with her fifth child, she was too unwell to go to her job as a cook at the Dow Jones offices in the World Trade Center.
Not long after the birth of her baby, Annie’s husband left her. With bills to be paid and children to feed, Annie, who had worked since high school, was forced to seek public assistance. She was connected to CUNY’s Poised for Success – a skills and educational program for mothers with children under three. And the solution began to appear. Referred by POISED, one year later, Annie came to Bottomless Closet. One week after starting her work assignment with COPE (College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment) at Bronx Community College, Annie was offered a paid position that was made full-time in June 2004.
Bottomless Closet now offers Annie the opportunity to extend her skills and broaden her horizons. “Would you believe that before I attended Bottomless Closet’s budgeting workshops I thought you saved all the money first and then bought your house?” She now understands that there are home financing options available. “And from the yoga and workshops on nutrition, I’ve improved my mind, my body, and my children’s health.” Her only criticism is: “the workshops should be longer, those two hours just fly by.”
When asked how she manages as a single parent, with a long commute and a full-time job, Annie laughs. “What could be better than productive, fulfilling work and the support and love of my family? And next year as well as starting college, I’d like to volunteer at Bottomless Closet.”