Opinion: Opportunity, encouragement at the Closet

By Betty Williamson
Local columnist

Danielle Swopes may have one of the most satisfying jobs in eastern New Mexico.  As overseer of the Successful You Career Closet in Clovis (a direct service of the United Way of Eastern New Mexico), she regularly sees women’s lives transformed with something as simple as a new outfit.

For the past three years, SYCC, or the Closet, has helped provide interview outfits and business attire for women who are entering or re-entering the job market and who, for whatever reason, need assistance in putting together a professional look.

The Closet moved recently into a boutique-style room on the first floor of the Matt 25 Hope Center at the corner of 13th and Thornton Streets in Clovis.  It houses a large selection of women’s business attire, including shoes, purses and accessories.  Danielle said a client who used SYCC earlier this week was a classic example of the women who are helped.

“She had just come out of prison and had no clothes and no belongings,” Danielle said.  “She is working to rebuild her life and start over, but she’s smart enough to know people do judge by exterior appearances.”

With assistance and encouragement, this client selected “two beautiful outfits that made her look good and feel good,” Danielle said. “You could see the door of possibilities open for her.  The woman walking out of that Closet was different than the woman who first walked in.  Her smile was gorgeous. She wasn’t wearing that when she came in.”

There is no cost to use the service; the gently-used clothing and accessories are donated by local women.

SYCC is holding a yard sale from 8-11 a.m. Saturday at Matt 25 to help cover rent for its space.  In keeping with the spirit of the mission, the sale will be entirely women’s office apparel and accessories—all marked at only $2 apiece. If you want to clean out your own closet and contribute appropriate items, they’ll be welcomed through 5 p.m. Friday.

The Closet is currently open by appointment only.  When the program started three years, ago, “it was also by referral only,” Danielle said, “and we still take referral clients. But more and more we are allowing and encouraging women to reach out to us and make appointments for their need. The most important thing is that this service gets used.”

Referrals and appointments can be made by calling the United Way’s information helpline at 2-1-1.

“Giving women the opportunity and encouragement to change their lives and start over … that’s what the Successful You Career Closet is all about,” Danielle said, “Our purpose is to instill confidence and hope. Clothes can make that happen. I love seeing them wearing hope when they leave the Closet.”

Betty Williamson suspects the Closet also welcomes donations of gently-used cash.  You may reach her at pepnm@hotmail.com.