The Wardrobe, a Philly based non-profit helping formerly incarcerated residents get back in the workforce
When people get out of prison, they are usually out with only the clothes they have on their backs. The organization is here to provide a solution.
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Although many people who leave prison want to begin a life of independence and accomplishment, their attire and how they look will usually set them up for success during the interview.
That is why The Wardrobe, a nonprofit organization based in Philly, is giving residents a chance to dress for success and impress prospective employers.
The nonprofit, which has been up and running for almost three decades, has three locations throughout the Philadelphia area and is determined to help those who need a fresh new outfit for their job interviews.
Sheri Cole, the executive director at The Wardrobe, has been involved in many programs, one in particular is called, Returning Wardrobe.
“We have everything that people need, from undergarments to outerwear, and so we are doing some more with prisons where we can also send boxes to people so they can wear once upon released,” Cole said in an interview with AL DÍA News.
Cole wants to make sure that The Wardrobe will be there for them every step of the way.
In the box is a referral card that they can come to one of the store’s three locations and shop for themselves.
Once they do that, they can get a week’s worth of clothing. Once they start job searching, they can pick out some interview outfits.
Lastly, once they get a job, they can get some work wear.
“We have had citizens who have been in prison for over 20 years, and what was cool to wear 20 years ago, is not anymore,” she said. “So, just being able to come in and learn how to fit in is really important for people’s self esteem.”
There is no limit to how many clothes residents can choose, as long as it’s what they need, professionally.
“I know that they wouldn’t want to wear the same interview outfit, so they can definitely pick out a few outfits for their interviews,” said Cole.
She has teamed up with Pennsylvania State Representative, Jordan Harris, and the PA Department of Human Services, which helped dress over 300 residents since October.
Their goal is to dress at least 1,000 citizens this year through the program.
Cole says that Rep. Harris makes a compelling argument that, when people are released from prison, they don’t have anyone to make sure they breeze into society in a successful way.
She also said that by providing clothing to those who were formerly incarcerated is one less thing that they have to worry about and one less stressor in their lives.
“This is really the whole idea of [the] Returning Wardrobe program,” Cole said.
The Wardrobe was recently awarded a state grant when PA First Lady Francis Wolf toured three Philadelphia-based organizations that provide reentry programming and other services for female Pennsylvania residents.
In his 2022 budget, Governor Tom Wolf proposed a $1 million investment for reentry services at the local level for women to give them a new opportunity to start fresh and reduce recidivism.
“There are phenomenal programs addressing the needs of female reentrants across the state, and meeting the passionate women who are spearheading them has urged me to visit and hear more about their work,” said First Lady Wolf in a press release.
The Wardrobe was also responsible for donating hundreds of outfits to Afghan refugees in Nov. 2021 when they were fleeing their home country during the Taliban takeover.
“Everyone wanted to help, whenever there is a crisis, people want to give clothing,” said Cole.
She also said that locals were generous with diapers, home goods, and kitchenware.
“We are still helping refugees, and are helping them pick out their clothes,” she said.
Since Spring is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to clean out your closets and donate some stylish pieces to The Wardrobe.
Donate at one of their three locations: 413 North 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123; 62 West Marshall Road, Lansdowne, PA 19050; and 1260 Veterans Highway, Bristol, PA 19007.
Donation days for The Wardrobe are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (11-5 p.m.).