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Dressing job seekers for success

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2007 6:22 am

Job seekers who lack proper attire for interviews can get free clothing, thanks to generous employees and a Valley agency that supports women and families through hard times.

This year’s suit drive from March 12 to 23 resulted in nearly 700 items being donated by employees and clients of Robert Half International to Arizona Women’s Education and Employment.

“Its in large part due to the generosity of companies like Robert Half International that AWEE has been able to positively impact so many of Arizona’s families,” said Marie Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of the Phoenix-based organization. “The clothing they donate each year helps to build selfesteem and foster empowerment in our participants. It makes a big difference in the lives of people we’re serving.”

Like Leuretha Robertson, 29, who was released from prison after serving time for drug-related offenses.

“I got an office job after I left prison, but I needed business-casual clothes to keep that job,” said Robertson, who lives in a halfway house in Phoenix. “AWEE gave me clothes that made me look more professional. I’m so thankful to them. It’s giving me a chance to turn my life around.”

Mary Badawi, 31, originally from Prescott, had virtually no proper outfits to wear when she sought work after being released from jail.

“I didn’t have a thing until I learned about AWEE,” said Badawi, who also lives in a halfway house in Phoenix. “Now, I feel comfortable at work ... a part of the staff.”

Lisa, 35, who was also recently released from prison and asked that her last name not be used, said a wardrobe that she received from AWEE helped her win a job at a telemarketing firm.

“I didn’t have anything to wear,” she said. “AWEE gave me a suit, purse, shoes - everything I needed to apply for a job. It was a blessing.” AWEE has been supporting women, families and local communities in Arizona with life and career planning, training and support since 1981. They have helped more than 40,000 individuals look for and find jobs.

The nonprofit agency has six locations in Maricopa County and one in Yavapai County. Participants include women and men ages 14 to 70-plus who may either be currently employed or re-entering the workplace.

More than 51 percent represent minority populations, 51 percent have experienced domestic violence and an estimated 20 percent are homeless, according to AWEE.

East Valley AWEE offices are at 2150 E. Orange St., Tempe, and 735 N. Gilbert Road, Suite 134 serving Chandler and Gilbert. Administrative offices are at 640 N. First Ave., Phoenix.

Robert Half International, a company based in Menlo Park, Calif., that specializes in recruiting employees nationally and internationally, began its clothing collection program in 2002. The firm has gathered more than 100,000 pieces of interview-appropriate items, including more than 4,400 pieces donated to AWEE.

“Our organizations share the same focus — to support career growth — and we greatly respect AWEE and all they have done to support their hard-working participants,” said Julie Rojahn, regional vice president of RHI.

For information about donating or receiving clothing, call AWEE at (602) 223-4333 or the AWEE Career Connections Center at (602) 955-4227.

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