Volunteer Spotlight: Kat Connelly

Meet Kat Connelly, Director of Volunteer Services, Children’s Aid and longtime Dress for Success Worldwide Volunteer.

DFS: How long have you been volunteering for Dress for Success?

KC: I’ve been volunteering since 2005 (I worked as Volunteer Manager from 2008-2011) Then began volunteering again with DFS when I started working at Children’s Aid.

DFS: What does Dress for Success mean to you?

KC: Dress for Success is a very big part of my life. I’ve been employed at DFS, volunteered, donated items and encouraged friends to donate as well. This organization opened a new path in my life.

DFS: What drew you to Dress for Success and why did you want to be part of the organization?

KC: A friend of mine invited me to a DFS event where I met Joi Gordon and after speaking with her and some of the other women there, I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization.

DFS: Can you describe the specific volunteer work you do at DFS?

KC: Over the years I’ve done quite a few things. I’ve worn many hats- from being a personal shopper to helping woman with their resumes and interview skills. I’ve also given several workshops to the PWG group on Navigating the World of work. Currently I do career counselling on Saturday and of course continue to help out with personal shopping and straightening up the shop.

DFS: Tell us a story of a client you served that stands out in your mind and that you are especially proud of? How did she impact you?

KC: A few years ago, I met a young lady named Jennifer who came to get a suit for an interview. She had been through a difficult childhood and was homeless several times,  Despite this she graduated from college and came to Dress for Success for a suit. Afterward, she wrote me a lovely note afterward saying that she “came in for suit and came out with hope”.  That year she spoke at the Dress for Success Spring Gala. Three years ago I was running a volunteer event for Children’s Aid with UBS analysts at one of our sites and Jennifer was one of the analysts! We hugged each other….I was so proud of her!

DFS: Describe some of the feelings you have when you are working with a client and seeing that transformation first hand.

KC: When you work with these women who are overcoming so many odds it can’t help but make you feel a great deal of compassion. I feel so many things and am especially grateful for what I have and I have such a strong desire to help these women feel good about themselves. When I see them stand in front of a mirror and look at themselves transformed by an outfit or realize in a mock interview they have do have a lot transferable skills, I’m really overwhelmed and inspired by their spirit!

DFS: What is the best part of being associated with DFS?

KC: I think that with all the suffering going on in the world, I feel like I’m doing something, however small. I believe that empowering women is the key to a stronger family and community.

DFS: How has Dress for Success impacted your life?

KC: Dress for Success basically changed the course of my life. For most of my career I was in the for profit world in cosmetics and video production.  While still at my corporate job, I started volunteering as a personal shopper for Dress for Success. After a couple of years I was offered the position of Volunteer Coordinator. This opened up a new world to me was the first step in my second career in non-profit.

DFS: Do you feel you are making an impact by volunteering at DFS? How?

KC: I do feel like I’m making an impact especially because I interact with the women and with many of them I follow their progress and see how they’ve turned their lives around. At my current organization I work with children who live in poverty and see how vital it is for them to have a stable home anchored by a strong woman.

DFS: What is your best advice to give to other volunteers?

KC: My best advice would be to treat the volunteer work with the same responsibility that you would a paying job. Come to the experience with a non-judgmental and open mind and be very generous in your spirit not only to the clients but to the other volunteers. I work with the same team of volunteers every second Saturday and we love and support each other just as we support our clients. The other piece of advice would be to volunteer for something you are passionate about. Lastly, don’t say I’ll volunteer someday when I retire or have more time….do it now! It will change your life.

Click here to learn more about how you can become a volunteer at Dress for Success Worldwide. 

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