Tania’s wake-up call came when one of her three daughters said to her, “Mom’s given up on herself.” Tania had always prided herself on taking care of her family and putting them first. However, she had been out of work for nearly two years, and the stresses of finding a job while keeping her family housed, fed and safe were taking its toll. She was forced to apply for public assistance and was in the process of losing her apartment.
Still, Tania wasn’t about to give up. Having endured a tough childhood of physical and substance abuse in the home, then living in foster care and in shelters, she was determined to do better by her own children. She already had degrees in Business Administration in Management, and Accounting & Information Systems. So when her daughter made that observation, Tania made a decision that changed her life.
As she was going through the process of applying for public assistance, she was sent to FEDcap, a back-to-work program. It’s there that she became acquainted with Dress for Success. As with all clients, her initiation started with a suiting appointment to get ready for an interview.
“I had lost a lot of weight, so none of my old clothes fit anymore,” Tania said about her initial experience with Dress for Success. “The women were so great and welcoming. They helped me find a beautiful outfit and made me feel really good about myself. When I went to the interview, I felt confident.”
She didn’t get that job, but it wasn’t long before she did land one. In fact, it was two weeks after she joined DFS’s “Going Places Network,” a program which helps clients with the interview process. “I was so excited to get the job, but a little disappointed because I was getting so much out of the program. The staff said, ‘You can join our Professional Women’s Group’ which I did. It’s been great. I’ve learned so many lessons there.”
As a member of the Professional Women’s Group, Tania has gained confidence to speak boldly and proudly about what she has to offer organizations and to others. It also helps her keep focused and motivated to grow. “Every time I attend a PWG meeting, I am able to talk about what’s going on with me currently at work and hear many different perspectives on how to handle things. Dress for Success has been a great support system during my time not working and while working.”
Tania describes Dress for Success as empowering women in the workplace. It is much more than the outfit. It is about learning, supporting and challenging each other to do better and reach higher. It is about uplifting one another and understanding what life has to offer women who have come from different and difficult backgrounds. She says the organization reinforces the belief that you are a shining light.
“I’ve learned never doubt what you can do,” Tania says about her experience. “Always empower the next woman. You don’t realize the impact that you have on each other. It’s about sisterhood.”
For Tania, it’s also about motherhood and about becoming the role model for her daughters that she always wanted to be. Looking back at her Dress for Success journey, Tania says, “There was a time when my daughter was sad because she saw that I wasn’t taking care of myself and she knew that I couldn’t feed someone if I wasn’t feeding myself. Now all that has changed.”