Whenever I tell someone that I write for Working Gear the conversation ends up something like this.
What do they do?
Provide work-appropriate clothing for men.
For interviews? Suits and things?
Well yes, but also the essentials they need to do their job. Sometimes, essential Safety gear and work boots, like the clothing needed to begin at a construction site.
So more than just suits?
Yes, more than just suits.
Then my mind explodes into how to expand the conversation in a way which summarizes the impact of Working Gear. Yes, the true power of Working Gear is more than just suits: Working Gear levels the playing field. A fresh start takes a little more than the desire to improve your life and the opportunity to enter the workforce, it takes confidence. Confidence which is not easily achieved. Not for anyone.
Let me explain. When a person, any person, enters a worksite it’s an intimidating endeavour. New people need to learn new policies and how they fit into the culture. Working gear provides more than just clothing, it’s a success tool. It offers the confidence to concentrate on these essential first days. Making a great first impression becomes that much easier, and that is the unique gift of Working Gear.
As I ponder how to work this into the conversation pause I am asked:
Oh, like ‘Dress for Success?”
Well, yes, except that’s for women. There are so few organizations that exclusively help men. They only support men.
But that’s when I realize I’m wrong! There are plenty of examples of how Working Gear has directly helped Women too.
How Working Gear (for men) Helps Women
Let’s start with ‘Dress for Success’. There is a funny story here. Working Gear wouldn’t have come to be if it was not for the incredible vision of an organization like “Dress for Success’ which has been supporting women with clothing and workplace training for more than ten years. The one thing they don’t provide is this service for men. It’s this realization that influenced founder Stephen Flynn to start Working Gear.
As you can imagine, the two organizations are good allies with the same mission and when women’s clothing sneaks into the donation bags we have a clear place to deliver it. It takes an army of like-minded people to offer real change. We are so privileged to belong to this one.
We know that by working with our partner agencies, the employment service organizations, as well as anecdotally from stories we hear from the men and women coming into our shop that the impact that we have is critical.
– Working Gear’s Founder, Stephen Flynn
It’s with this in mind we hope you will take a moment to check out the Dress for Success gala on May 8th at the Regency Lexus (dfsvancouver.org/impact).
Better jobs help entire families thrive
In homes where both women and men share in providing, there is an ongoing burden of financial stability. It’s no secret that it costs more to live by the sea. According to Expatistan.com, rents, alone average over $2000 and basic school and technology supplies increase every year.
Every opportunity to provide for a family is needed in the homes of our clients. A one-income family that can’t afford the Vancouver lifestyle is burdened and that means sacrifices. When men can access more work or higher incomes, the entire family sacrifices less.
Disposable income, be it derived from one or two income homes, come with resources for a better life. Professional development, re-education opportunities, or simply pursuing the interests and dreams that make life more fulfilling. Prosperous homes are productive ones for all.
Safety is Safety, Women are in trades too
The types of clothing working gear provides is often safety or work specific gear. Things like steel-toed boots, overalls, rain gear, durable work slacks and jackets. Trade gear is needed by men and women to do the work.
We depend on kindness. Our donations provide Working gear with the ability to support thousands of men and women. Clothing that is not gender specific is purchased. We can provide specialty items like work standard approved gear which is needed by both men and women. A cash donation is one way you can direct your support to clothing often used by women entering worksites, and supporting women has a cascading effect on the efforts to equalize opportunities here.
It’s a winning solution for all.
Attitudes move mountains
We live in a time where women are speaking up, even speaking loudly using all the communication tools available to do so. Our voices have influence and the most impactful stories are the ones which get circulated among people who have felt the same silencing pain of marginalization. It is a very exciting time.
Although it is changing, many entry-level work sites are predominantly men. Occupations like carpentry, construction and automotive services are also among some of the most male-dominated jobs. It’s completely natural for men to share the stories that concern men. In fact, sharing our lives is a human trait we all use to relate to each other. Having the stories of what it’s like to come from a minority, or marginalized group spreads empathy, the same empathy needed to humanize and give voice to the stores which are being told by women.
Being supportive, donating, volunteering and sharing all provide the stories which change our global way of thinking.
Word Gets Around
One of the greatest things about being a part of Greater Vancouver is the number of non-profit organizations which have surfaced over the last 12 years which Working Gear has been assisting. We (mainly) help men with a very specific need, but we are well aware of what support systems are out there. Our unique relationships with our clients open up conversations about these services. Information is relayed to the women who need it through the men we support.
There is no better way than through word of mouth to connect people in need with the organizations which can make a real difference. These organizations provide training, housing, mental health, abuse support, networking and so much more.
It’s with this thought that I leave you. Start a conversation about Working Gear. Not sure what to begin with? We recommend and appreciate you mentioning the Working Gear’s Annual Fundraiser – Gear to Give. It will be held on June 6th at the Vancouver Club. Click here for more information.