STEAC’s Suit Up for Success program expands to West Sacramento

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Nicole dropped everything to take care of her ailing parents and grandparents — she put her education on hold and took a leave of absence from work, all while managing the demands of being a single mother. When her parents ultimately passed on, Nicole moved from South Carolina to Davis with her teenage daughter to make a new start and be close to her sister.

With her meager funds dwindling, she knew she had to find a job quickly to make ends meet and to support her daughter. That is when she discovered STEAC’s Suit Up for Success Program (Suit Up).

“Suit Up for Success was a lifesaver,” Nicole said. “It gave me the self-confidence and lift I needed to find a job. At first I was anxious, but after spending an hour with a volunteer personal shopper who provided fashion advice, interview tips, and most importantly kindness and respect, I was thrilled to find three beautiful outfits and newfound self-esteem.”

Within two weeks Nicole landed a job in retail. A few months later, she was promoted to manager.

STEAC, the Short Term Emergency Aid Committee, is a local nonprofit that helps low-income Yolo County families and individuals get through emergencies and back on their feet. Established in 1967, STEAC provides assistance more than 11,000 times a year to individuals in need, helping with food, rent, utilities, education, interview outfits and more.

About 13 years ago, STEAC saw a need to help low-income job seekers with work attire so they could find employment and become self-sufficient. “There were no programs in the area that met this need,” said Katy Zane, STEAC program consultant.

With this in mind, STEAC launched the Suit Up for Success program, where clients could meet volunteer personal shoppers at store sites in Davis and Woodland.

“The Suit Up program now helps about 50 clients a year with over a 60 percent success rate of individuals finding a job after their appointment,” Zane said.

Recently, social service agencies in West Sacramento told STEAC their clients really need interview outfits but transportation to the Davis and Woodland store sites is too difficult. In response to this demand, STEAC is now partnering with Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley & Northern Nevada to provide a Suit Up Program out of the West Sacramento Goodwill store at 3067 West Capitol Ave.

“The Sacramento Goodwill enthusiastically stepped up to partner with STEAC,” Zane said, “providing a discount on gift cards that volunteer personal shoppers can use to purchase interview outfits.”

STEAC executive director, Liane Moody, added, “We are thrilled to work together to help community members get back on their feet.”

To qualify for the program, individuals must be low-income Yolo County residents looking for work and financially unable to purchase interview outfits. Individuals who just landed a job but do not have adequate work attire also qualify.

“This is an extremely rewarding program,” Zane said. “I ran into Nicole recently. With a beaming smile, she announced she was finally achieving her true goal, which was to transfer to either UC Davis or Sacramento State University to complete her degrees in sociology/social work and African-American studies.”

Zane also discovered that Nicole received the “Outstanding Women’s Award” from the Sacramento City Cultural Awareness Department for overcoming obstacles while obtaining an education. She also is the recipient of the “Osher Scholarship” in social work to help vulnerable populations such as the elderly or disabled.

Nicole said she owes much of her success to getting a fresh start and renewed self-esteem through the Suit Up for Success. As a way to give back, she recently signed up to become a volunteer personal shopper for the Suit Up Program.

“I want to give back to others by helping them get a job, returning the favor given to me that made such a difference in my life,” she said.

For more information, call the STEAC office at 530-758-8435 or visit www.STEAC.org.