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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

1st Impression provides job interview clothes for men

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Thousands of men are released from jails and prisons every year in search of employment. On the road to recovery, many do not have professional attire for job interviews. A new nonprofit in Indianapolis is here to help.

“The work I’m doing is driven by passion,” said 1st Impression CEO Demeada Williams.

Williams, who has worked in social services for 30 years, noticed women-specific programs such as Dress for Success but found there was nothing of the sort for men. The idea came about 2 1/2 months ago when she attended a workshop where several men complained about the struggle to find clothes for job interviews.

Demeada Williams (Photo provided by Demeada Williams)

She prayed about it, and the answer: It was time to jumpstart this endeavor. She put requests for donations on various apps such as NextDoor and Black Dollar. Williams also approached department stores and family friends for help. Now, she has hundreds of suits, ties, dress shirts and sweaters that sit in a room in her home.

The mission is to lower the recidivism rate that disproportionately affects Black men. In 2017, Pew Research Center reported Black adults are more than five times as likely to be incarcerated than whites. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that of 600,000 people released from prison each year, more than 50% are incarcerated again.

This is attributed to the difficulty in securing employment and housing after being released from prison. There is also a stigma that follows formerly incarcerated people in the job market, and not having the proper clothes for an interview adds to that, which 1st Impression wants to combat.

The program is still in the early stages, but Williams wants to continue to grow the project in the future. She will look to expand the nonprofit’s resources to include resume building and other workshops that can help men gain more marketable skills.

Her vision is to set up 1st Impression as a retail store which will allow her to better serve a larger clientele efficiently. As the search for a location continues, Williams said the organization will need resources such as tables and hangers. If you want to donate or help, contact Williams at 2022.1stimpression@gmail.com.

Contact intern Mesgana Waiss at 317-762-7848 or email at adjwouw@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @theavgjourn.

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