When I was out of work and trying to get back into the workforce someone reached out to me and helped me tremendously. A mentor of mine who saw that I was beginning to make positive changes in my life took me to a suit store in Brooklyn and purchased me a brand new suit, shirt and a tie. I will never forget that moment, I practically cried from the emotions of another man buying me these items without wanting anything in return. That moment was etched in my heart until this day. It is that moment that I think about constantly when we give back to the men we serve today. It is that moment that got me started and keeps me going.
While cleaning out my closet of older suits I decided now was the time to make this dream of assisting men with professional attire a reality so I started That Suits You, an non profit organization that provides suits to men looking to get back into the workforce.
The journey of starting the organization involved collecting suits from family and friends. I was amazed at the results I was received. My wife and brother joined the team and we began holding suit drives and reaching out to churches, businesses and individuals all over. I have found that people don't mind giving these items if they know it will be helping people. The idea of men who have completed training and are ready to work but do not have anything to wear to their interview is heart wrenching and very sad to see. However when we see their face when we present them with a suit, tie, shirt and occasionally shoes, all at no cost to them, it is priceless. That same emotion I felt when I received my suit is what we strive to do to these men. When I received that first suit I felt empowered, I felt important, and I felt like I could take on the world. We want the men we assist to feel the same way and we have seen it time and time again.
There is something about a man in a suit. There is something empowering about it. Women love to see them, and men love to wear them. A man in a suit, says he is working, he is making things happen, he is successful. That may not be the reality but it gives that perception. When people see young men saggin their pants, that statement speaks volumes to the world. That look says they are not working, they are not being positive and they are not being successful. Although that may not be true, that is the image it portrays. A lot of times men dress that way because they haven't been taught better or they don't have the means to obtain better. We want to be a part of changing the culture, look, dress and perception of men all over. We want to be a part of teaching men to dress better. We want them to have that look of a well dressed man. Once I had my first suit, I wanted to wear them more and more. I believe once we get a man in his first suit, he will have that same feeling.
We recently did a job conference workshop with Liberty City and Covenant House. There, we donated shirts and ties to some of the young men who came. We also taught men how to tie a tie and did mock interviews with the young adults. However to me, the most powerful part of the day was the panel that I was asked to be a part of. Having the opportunity to pour my heart into these young people was priceless. I shared with them about starting a business and seeing a dream become a reality. I also expressed the importance of dressing appropriately and being professional in everything you do. That Suits You places us in position to give back to teens and young adults and hopefully steer them in a positive direction to being a success story.
Photos courtesy of That Suits You's Instagram account .
Follow Gerard Kersey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Thatsuitsyou