Changing the Odds business clothes drive

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COLUMBIA - A local group dedicated to helping women reenter the workforce is hosting a clothing drive. The Women's Network Changing the Odds' is hosting its monthly luncheon Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the Peachtree Catering and Banquet Center.

Women's Network Chair Michelle Batye said, "That clothing drive is a suit drive, that's what we call it."

The suits will go to women who have been out of the workforce.

"It could mean that they are home with children or they were incarcerated or whatever means that they haven't been in the workforce before," Batye said. "We've had language barriers, we've had women that have come from local shelters that have had struggles and barriers."

The Women's Network Changing the Odds committee will be accepting business suits/attire, jewelry and shoes as donations. Those will be gifted to the Assistance League of Mid Missouri/Upscale Resale in preparation for the fall Changing the Odds job seminar.

Lynnanne Baumgardner, member of the Assistance League of Mid Missouri/Upscale Resale said "They provide the training for women who are wanting to re-enter the work place and after they have finished their training segment then they come here." 

The Women's Network is a division of and funded through donors and the Chamber of Commerce.

"Our changing the odds committee is our philanthropic part of women's network and we hold two seminars a year," Batye said.

The first seminar features business and professional women who offer guidance on identifying a participant's job skills. The participants learn do's and don'ts of resume writing, and how to dress professionally. There are also confidence-building exercises.

"What we do next seminar is we use that time to help people with their resume, do some skills on-interviewing skills. We also have a little fashion show to show them how to dress and then hand out their vouchers," Batye said.

Immediately after the seminar, participants are shuttled to Upscale Resale to shop for a business interview outfit.

"Our member-volunteers assist the women who have participated in selecting the appropriate clothing for job interviews and work situations," Baumgardner said. "It's very rewarding because, of course, we all want to see them successfully re-enter the work place and improve their lives and their family's life."

Batye said, "We do have some success stories where we've had people go through the program and they are now placed. We have a couple that actually even come back and volunteer each year."

About 25 women usually participate in the seminar.

"In attending, the women, they open up and kind of form a bond with another," Batye said.

The committee also helps participants budget money and with enrolling in school.

The next Changing the Odds job seminar will be Oct. 28.