Nonprofit empowers women and helps them ‘Dress For Success’

It’s a dream come true for one woman, as her high heels clack their way across the Chico’s FAS lobby and to a cubicle with her name on it.

Rosalinda Lamarque is from Peru. Her journey to Southwest Florida involved the daunting task of getting a job in a foreign place.

“I had very little network, so I was looking for job opportunities,” Lamarque said. “And I needed some guidance.”

Lamarque found guidance at a Fort Myers boutique, part of nonprofit organization Dress For Success SW Florida led by Executive Director Nikole Hendra.

“Dress For Success is an organization that helps unemployed and underemployed women with a hand up,” Hendra said.

Hendra empowers women like Lamarque to dress confidently by helping them choose clothing to achieve employment.

“Everything we offer to them in our boutique is free,” Hendra said. “We have women that have retired that come to the boutique to drop off anything professional, so we can offer interview clothing.”

The support for the women the organization is championing doesn’t stop with one interview outfit.

“Once they go out and get that job, they come back and get 20 additional outfits for their wardrobe,” Hendra said. “So they aren’t spending that first paycheck on clothing, which can be very expensive.”

After graduating from the organization’s Women Empowered Through Employment Series (W.E.T.E.S.) program, Lamarque loves her new clothes, new job and new connections.

“I had the opportunity to connect with these amazing women, who not only mentor you, coach you, but they give you support and guidance,” Lamarque said. “To any women out there who are looking for a job, maybe not knowing where to start, to just go ahead and do it.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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