When it comes to job interviews, it goes without saying that one should dress to impress. But, what happens when you’re newly released from prison and on the job hunt? A group of female ex-offenders enrolled at Riverside House—a residential reentry program in Miami—were fortunate enough recently to receive professional clothing that was freshly dry cleaned thanks to two generous donations.
Individuals who enroll in Riverside House’s programs are expected to seek out employment, which the organization prepares them for with job skills training, occupational guidance, and professional attire, the latter of which is supplied by in-kind donations. In December, the nonprofit received a gift from an anonymous group of twelve Coral Gables women who gather regularly to carry out philanthropic efforts. The group read about Riverside House in a December story and thought they could fill a need by donating women’s business and casual wear.
It was then that Richard Diaz, the owner and general manager of Cutler Cleaners stepped in to donate complimentary dry cleaning services of four bags of clothing. “I love opportunities to use our skills and resources to help people in their time of need,” said Diaz “Clothing plays a lead role in a first impression. I hope a sharp set of clothes inspires a star performance for the ladies of Riverside House.”
Studies have shown that steady employment is the number one factor that prevents recidivism. A continual stream of income allows ex-offenders to pay their bills and support their families, which raises their self-esteem. Many Riverside House clients also find that they are more inclined to follow a positive path when given the opportunity to succeed through job advancement. “I was touched by Richard’s kind hearted manner,” says Carey Kane, development director at Riverside House. “The expeditious fashion with which he carried out this gift of services showed the women of Riverside House that they are supported by our community. We are immensely grateful.”
The head of Riverside House’s women’s program, Michelle Jenkins-Taylor added, “A simple gesture like dry cleaning really goes a long way. Donations such as these provide our residents with the invaluable opportunity to dress to impress on job interviews. They face tremendous types of adversity as it is; clothing shouldn’t be one of them.”
Founded in Miami in 1973, Riverside House exists to guide men and women convicted of crime into becoming productive citizens through a non denominational, faith-based approach. Its vision is that the formerly incarcerated are good citizens and neighbors—productive, educated, with strong family and spiritual values, playing an equal role in contributing to a safe and vibrant community. For more information on the organization’s programs or how to get involved, including donating in-kind items such as toiletries, clothing, and unused socks and underwear for both men and women clients, please visit riversidehouse.org.