By: Adriana Avila, Staff Reporter | Photo Provided By: Rhonda Ross Job Connection Services
The Job Connection Center will host its fourth annual professional clothing exchange, but with a special twist this time, said data analyst and connection center employee Teresa Valverde.
Students, faculty and staff will be able to take donated clothing for free on Dec. 13, she said.
As far as the exchange part is concerned, students are also urged to donate their unwanted professional clothing for the exchange by Dec. 7, she said.
“This is the very first time we just had people donate clothes and students and graduates came in to look at the clothes,” said Valverde.
“We added the exchange portion because we realized that there was a lot of faculty and staff that could really use clothes.”
Valverde said students, staff and faculty do not have to donate clothing to receive clothing; they are free to come in and take whatever they like. Everyone is free to donate, but it is not mandatory to receive clothing.
The center is hosting the event because many people do not have the right type of clothing for interviews, but want to make the right impression to get the job.
“Often students don’t have the money to go out and buy the right types of clothes and we want them to have the right types of options when they apply for the job and to help sustain them for a little bit of time until they have money to buy clothing that fits with that organization,” said Valverde.
She said she was amazed at how many staff and faculty members are in need Valverde said that in exchange for clothing, people will be given tickets for the value of the clothes given. The tickets can be used to purchase items and donors are encouraged to pass the tickets on to other people.
The tickets are not necessary to receive clothing, but Administrative Support Specialist Rhonda Ross said it is a fun marketing idea for the drive because people like to keep the tickets anyway.
Ross said the right clothing worn during an interview can make the right impression and a big difference. She said there is no way to get a second chance at a first impression and to make sure to get it right the first time.
Ross said a new blouse or any new piece of clothing can change someone’s perspective and that can make a big difference when interviewing.
“We have stuff that has come in from Rio Rancho and they are really participating in our event. We have received so much input from faculty and staff,” said Ross.
“They have really worked together to bring in clothing and the faculty and staff have brought in three bundles of clothing.”
Ross said there is a room full of clothing and that most of the clothing is new and still has the tags on them. Some items have come directly from the cleaners.
Ross said Valverde, with some help, transformed a regular conference room into a boutique.
Valverde took the drapes down from her own home and stapled them to the walls to make the room look beautiful and elegant.
She wanted to make the room look like a real boutique. Ross said she was impressed by Valverde’s work.
“We just want to make people feel like you’re going to your friend’s closet and you’re asking ‘Can I have this’ type of deal where it isn’t more like ‘Oh yes, you’re in need, take it,’” said Ross.
A c a d e m i c Advisement and Job Connection Services Manager Anna Watkins said the community here has responded very well.
“Any concerns we might have had about getting a range of sizes, we’re getting them. There’s no problem,” said Watkins.
We were concerned about getting enough men’s clothing because you get plenty of women’s clothing. We’re getting men’s clothing as well.”
Valverde said whatever people can offer to the drive will be accepted. The event flyer says someone may have someone else’s future hanging in their closet.
“Kathie Winograd, our president, brings in amazing clothes from her husband and from her closet and in the past we’ve seen some people from maintenance and they’re here holding up a suit that Kathie Winograd had,” said Valverde.
This isn’t like a garage sale, this is really about people who care and people who are exchanging clothing.”
Valverde said one year an instructor told his students about the event and one of the students worked for the Hyatt Hotel and Resort.
“He brought in several black pants and black skirts because that is what is required for the types of jobs like a hostess,” said Valverde.
They were getting rid of all of those things and they literally brought in hundreds of slacks and skirts.”