First impressions matter, especially when attempting to get a job. Looking sharp on an interview often plays an important role in whether someone ultimately is offered a job. Memphis Suit Project helps men clear that hurdle.
Memphis Suit Project works with men as early as seniors in high school, with a high percentage age 16 to 24 and either not in school or unemployed. The organization provides a suit, shirt, tie, belt, socks and shoes to about 20 men per month.
Memphis Suit Project started out in 2013 using a donated suit model. A partnership with New York Suit Exchange then gave the organization a special deal on suits, shirts, ties, belts, socks and shoes. So now men look sharp from head to toe in their new, stylish items that have them ready for a job interview.
“We know that when you look good and feel good about yourself you carry yourself differently,” said Meghan Heimke, executive director of Memphis Suit Project. “We’re all about helping to remove that barrier so they have confidence.”
Memphis Suit Project partners with a variety of local organizations to connect with men who need suits. But it’s more than finding men who need a new suit. In fact, education is a key component of the relationship.
“We partner with these organizations because a man is much more than the suit he wears; education is important,” Meghan said. “So, we partner with organizations doing soft skills training to support and reinforce their efforts.”
The three-connection point program lasts six weeks. The first is a fitting event when Meghan’s team lays the foundation and explains the importance of a first impression. The men are also measured for their business attire and answer the required “Reflection Question”: How will receiving this suit benefit my life and my community?
While the question encourages men to think about the gift, it also encourages them to think about their own future. The men are encouraged to think about their influence and ways they can give back to their community.
The second connection point encourages the men to shoot a reflection video. Memphis Suit Project works with the Apple Store in Germantown to teach a workshop on how to shoot a video on an iPad and edit in iMovie. This is an opportunity for the men to practice their presentation skills.
The third connection point is the gift-giving event when men receive their suits and have the opportunity to model them in front of family and friends, as well as show some of the videos.
“I’ve seen the most timid guys own that walkway,” Meghan said. “I’ve seen the transformation take place when they hear supporters root for them. That’s a huge confidence builder.”
The final event has a powerful sending-off message meant to encourage the men while reinforcing their enhanced public speaking skills. Memphis Suit Project checks in with its men three, six, nine and 12 months after they receive their suits to follow their personal progress.
Memphis Suit Project has 24 community organizations that have applied for suits in 2018, but funding isn’t there to serve all of them yet. It costs $200 to fully clothe and provide training for one person.
The biggest need is for individuals, businesses or groups to donate amounts that can sponsor one or more men. For more information about donating to Memphis Suit Project, visit memphissuitproject.org.
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