NDA Assists YWCA’s Women’s Closet

Abby Almonte, Staff Writer

The YWCA hosted the “Turning Dresses into Dreams” drive at Notre Dame Academy for prom dresses, and some NDA students have decided to extend the helping hand even more.

The YWCA runs the “Women’s Closet.” Established in 1993, the YWCA Women’s Closet provides work-appropriate clothing for low-income women who are seeking employment, in a new job or going to school, according to their website.

“It shows that women that there are generous people out there that are willing to help and donate their gently used or never worn clothes that they no longer have use for,” said Valerie Sidon, a senior at Notre Dame and part of the YWCA’s Women’s Empowerment Group.

Women may visit the Closet four times per year or when they are newly hired for a job.  In addition to clothing, the Closet offers coats, shoes, accessories, jewelry and undergarments.  The goal of the program is to prepare women for employment and boost their self-esteem by helping them ‘dress for success.’

Valerie Sidon’s mother Natalia, who is also a leading part of the YMCA’s Women’s Empowerment Group, also believes in bringing confidence to women in the community through donations and support groups.

“I believe that support groups empower women to [come together] to solve their own problems. It is important for women to gather to share common problems and experiences associated with particular issues,” Natalia said. “It also gives women a chance to talk with other women who are understand what they are going through in their everyday lives.”

In the last year, 1,700 visitors used the Women’s Closet.  Visitors are referred by friends and also by a number of local agencies including the Wisconsin Job Center, the Golden House, and Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, according to their website.

“This ‘closet’ is to build the confidence in these women to go out and pursue a job or just to be able to look decent when going out [in public],” said Valerie.

Several NDA students involved in the Women’s Empowerment Group are working through Campus Ministry to collect and hold donations. Donations can include and are not limited to clothing such as dresses, dress shirts, jackets/blazers, dress pants, and other wearable items such as jewelry and shoes.

“Donations that become available to women help bring stability to those in a family, and gives them a chance to feel better and more confident,” Natalia said regarding the Women’s Closet. “I personally feel that is very rewarding when you know you are helping someone less fortunate.”

The Women’s Closet relies on donations of gently used clothing from women in the community. More than 1,000 donations are received from individuals and company sponsored drives each year.

“Donating will help us give the these women more options in affordable clothes and can help us expand the closet to help many more women out there,” said Valerie.

Valerie also modeled a dress collected by the drive on the local news station Fox 11 for the YWCA.

“Showing the dress on television was a great idea to show the types of dresses that were donated and that are now available for girls in the area,” Valerie said. “They are very gorgeous, and it was a fun opportunity for me as well.”

The Women’s Closet location at the Green Bay East YWCA is always taking donations.  Campus Ministry also will take donations. Any questions can be directed to Valerie Sidon or go visit the website at ywcagreenbay.org.