Did you know that more than 15 million single moms live in the US today? Or, that 45 percent have problems making ends meet? Fortunately, being a single mother doesn’t have to equate to lifelong economic disadvantage. That said, women living below the poverty level, including single mothers, often lack the clothing, skills, and professional resources to climb the career ladder. That’s where Reno nonprofits, such as Patti Pietsch Weiske’s Northern Nevada affiliate of Dress for Success, come into play. 

Dress for Success helps women acquire polished wardrobes and develop the business skills to thrive in the professional world. Keep reading to learn more about how Patti’s helped hundreds of women gain financial independence and control of their lives. 

A Helping Hand for Women Who Want to Succeed 

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A Dress for Success client before and after the Suiting Program.

During the recession, Patti worked in the women’s fashion industry. There, she heard from hundreds of women about their struggles with poverty. Many were single moms, and they lacked the professional skill sets and clothing to get ahead in the workforce. Patti knew the problem well, but solving it proved more elusive. 

Then, in 2014, she learned about Dress for Success, an international 501(c)3 nonprofit that promotes the economic independence of women. How? By providing them with professional attire, career development tools, and a network of support. 

After navigating the process of starting a nonprofit in Nevada, Patti became the Founder and CEO of the Northern Nevada chapter. From Reno/Sparks, and throughout the world, Dress for Success has given thousands of women a chance at a better life. 

What’s made it one of the most successful nonprofits in Reno? Wraparound programs created to support women throughout the various stages of their personal and professional growth — from finding a job to building a network. As Patti observes, “We can’t expect women to dress up and not have the resources to navigate building a career.” 

Career Support Services

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PWG session on workplace etiquette taught by Marie Murgolo, VP at TMCC. The women here are doing a handshake exercise.

For job seekers, the Dress for Success mission helps them take their professional aspirations to the next level. This starts with Career Center programs where HR professionals volunteer one-on-one with clients to guide them through resume review, mock interviewing, and creating a LinkedIn profile.

Once they have a job, the Professional Women’s Group (PWG) ensures they continue to grow and develop. PWG is a year-long program that involves monthly workshops focused around five pillars of professional success:

  1.     Work/life balance
  2.     Workplace etiquette
  3.     Health/wellness
  4.     Financial literacy
  5.     Leadership/civic responsibility

PWG members also attend myriad community events as the guests of Dress for Success’s Board of Directors and donors. For example, the WIN Business Networking Organization invites PWG members to its monthly Northern Nevada “Power Breakfasts.” There, ladies can hone their professional skills while building a network. 

Ninety-two percent of the women Dress for Success has served this year are single. Of these single women, 48% are raising children under the age of 18. As Patti notes, “Whether rising from homelessness, addiction, divorce, or whatever has knocked them down, they have the same goals in life as the rest of us: to make better lives for themselves and their children. The women in the PWG get closer to reaching these goals every month.” 

Fashion with a Purpose

According to Patti, “Dress for Success would not be as successful as it is without the support of our community partners. Our space has been donated to us for the last two years thanks to Reno Engineering. EDAWN (the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada) pays our annual affiliate fee to Dress for Success worldwide.” 

More than 20 different agencies in Northern Nevada now refer clients to Dress for Success, and it has a formal partnership with Volunteers of America to support their workforce development department.

Dress for Success has experienced significant growth over the past two years, which means plenty of volunteer opportunities exist. These include behind-the-scenes chances to help with marketing, events, and administrative duties. If you’d like to volunteer or are looking for Dress for Success donation locations near you, click here

Reno Nonprofits: Providing Hope and Help 

Dress for Success is located in 30 countries and provides crucial help to women worldwide so that they can support their families and achieve success. In Reno-Sparks, countless individuals, businesses, and agencies have come together to support this amazing organization’s efforts, making it a community-wide endeavor to be proud of. 

Are you interested in learning more about Reno nonprofits? Or, perhaps you’d like to find out about the incredible career opportunities available in the area? Contact us today to see what’s happening in Northern Nevada and why you and your family want to be here.