These are professional people giving back. People who have worked hard to build a career and then decided they needed more; they needed to help others, not as savvy, build a life. So they counsel, they guide, they offer life skills. Sometimes, these people who need to start over, don’t even have the proper clothing to get them in the front door for an interview.
So these volunteers take their understudies to a special “store” where clothing and shoes have been donated and it’s a shopping day to remember. These are not ‘hand-me-downs’ from someone who has cleaned out a closet or two and is getting rid of clothes that have been worn to death. No, these are gently used, fashionable suits, any man would be comfortable wearing for an interview. How do I know?
I know because I’m familiar with six of those suits. They were hanging in the closet at this house when I decided someone needed them to fit this exact occasion. Leroy’s suits were a topic of much discussion when he bought them originally. One by one, he added them to a wardrobe that consisted of mostly casual wear. In the field, Leroy wore what he called his ‘war clothes.’ Shirts that would blend into a crowd, nothing with a pattern, nothing that required a coat or tie. War clothes are basic, bland shirts and jeans for the most part. His regular work clothes were slacks and shirts with sleeves rolled-up and sometimes a tie. The suits were for occasions that called for high-end meetings, evening events and really special times. Leroy was not a big suit guy. He was a “big” guy and filled out a suit to be sure, but it was a real show of respect if he was wearing a suit to meet with you!
So it was with respect for him and for the reasons this special store exists, that I donated Leroy’s beautifully tailored suits. When I heard these folks talking about how they are giving back and how much fun it is for them to see these hopeful men walk out of a dressing room wearing a beautiful suit, in preparation for an upcoming interview, I could only imagine that I knew where that suit had come from and even more important, where it was going.