‘Building a closet for professionals’


Justis Smith, Callaway Chamber of Commerce marketing and special events coordinator, stands Tuesday in front of one of the clothes racks at the chamber in Fulton.
India Garrish
/ Fulton Sun.

Right now, you might be thinking about clearing out your closet for the fall. Tamara Tateosian, Callaway Chamber of Commerce executive direc-tor, said you should consider dropping off used business attire at its Dress Clothes Drive.The drive, which supports students in Jobs for America’s Graduates program in Fulton Public Schools and North Cal-laway School District, is now accepting clothing leading up to the weeklong event Sept. 20-24.Jobs for America’s Gradu-ates is a state-based nation-al nonprofit helping students who face barriers such as pov-erty, challenging family sit-uations and a history of per-sonal trauma, serving as both a school-dropout prevention and school-to-work program.’Dotted lines’Tateosian said events like the clothing drive and vari-ous career preparation events they have helped run through JAG help students feel more prepared for interviews and their career path as a whole, because the success of stu-dents is directly related to the business community.”One of our strategic plans at the chamber is workforce development, so Jobs for America’s graduates prepare students for that, wheth-er they’re going to college, a technical college or straight into the workforce,” Tateo-sian said. “You can see it all has dotted lines connecting together.”The JAG program began working with Fulton High School last fall, helping 48 stu-dents, and will begin working with North Callaway School district this fall, which Tateo-sian said the Chamber is look-ing forward to.Filling a needJustis Smith, marketing and special events coordinator at the Chamber, came up with the idea for the dress clothes drive and has been collecting clothes, getting them hung up and ready for students to try on.She said before solidifying the event, she met with FHS JAG coordinator and career counselor Joel Henley asking about what will most help JAG students. Henley said each stu-dent is allowed $100 for cloth-ing allowance, but it’s difficult for that amount to go far with business clothes. Out of those conversations last fall, the idea was sparked for the dress clothes drive.”It won’t just benefit Fulton’s JAG program, but North Calla-way’s incoming program. I’m really excited for that,” he said. “It’s going to be able to help out kids go shopping for free, so when they go to a job interview or conference, they’ll have that professional dress they need but just don’t have.”Smith found that helping stu-dents to find nice dress clothes for free also gives them more room in their budget for other necessary supplies.”We’re trying to get some of those main items so they don’t have to spend their whole bud-get on attire,” she said.The chamber is looking for donations of core pieces of business attire, whether it be dress shirts, ties, slacks, dresses or shoes, and all in good con-dition. Clothing will need to be cleaned, pressed and ready on hangers to go to the collec-tion area — something that “students can come in, collect and wear immediately,” Tate-osian said. Clothes will not be accepted in trash bags.Building skill sets and confidenceTateosian believes job inter-views can be “good practice” for opportunities in the busi-ness world.”I’m a firm believer that even if you don’t land the job, just going through the interview process is great experience,” Tateosian said. “It gives you the skill sets necessary to suc-ceed and land the job you truly want.”She said the dress clothes drive is like “building a closet for professionals” and could benefit people in places like the Missouri Job Center, which is also looking for business attire. It can also provide confidence students need to succeed.”When you look nice and feel good about who you are, it gives you that confidence and boost you need to be success-ful during that job interview — or anything you’re doing with employment,” Tateosian said.The drive will be open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 20-24. Clothes can be dropped off at the Chamber Office, 510 Market Street in Fulton.

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