‘Step Up To Success’ Fashion Show Helps Women
By AYN ROBBINS
DRESSING FOR SUCCESS: Pat Simmons, left, president of Dress for Success and Ronda Adkisson, executive director, have worked to help nearly 500 women find professional attire.
AYN ROBBINS for GTR Newspapers
I dropped by the Tulsa Dress for Success store located at 1109 S. Peoria Ave. to chat with local President Pat Simmons and Executive Director Ronda Adkisson. We discussed how everything in the store consists of professional attire to help disadvantaged women interview for jobs and enter the work force on equal ground with their co-workers.
It’s obvious Simmons and Adkisson share a close friendship as well as a passion for a very noble cause.
“If you’re not loving what you are doing, you are wasting your life,” Simmons says.
“The emphasis is being placed in the wrong place,” she continues. “We all have to make a living.”
“But we should also make a difference,” Adkisson says, completing the thought process of the friends.
Last year Dress For Success Tulsa outfitted 433 women for job interviews and the organization has already surpassed that number this year. Nancy Sposato is one of the 433 women that have come to Dress for Success for help. She lost her husband to divorce, her home to foreclosure and the comfort of her daughter who was deployed to Iraq, all around the same time. It is easy to see why it was difficult for her to keep hope alive when everything around her was falling apart at the seams. She never imagined herself in this situation or in designer clothes.
“Yes, it is true our store has many designer labels like Ralph Lauren, Brighton, and Coach,” Adkisson says.
With the support and empowerment of Dress for Success, Sposato now works for St. John’s Hospital in the administration offices, is independent and living a fulfilled life she dared not dream of not so very long ago.
“She loves it. She is excited about it,” Simmons says.
Sposato is proud of her journey and has been “paying it forward” for others: She’s donated appropriate accessories and is sharing her story at this year’s “ Step Up To Success” fashion show and auction on the evening of Oct. 24 at the Greenwood Cultural Center.
“The ladies are referred to us through other agencies throughout Tulsa such as government agencies, schools, shelters, correctional facilities, and other non-profits,” Simmons says.
A comprehensive list of 60 referral agencies may be found on the Web site.
“We get ladies coming out of correctional facilities who have perhaps never applied for a job and don’t know how to interview when they come in here. We try to make them feel comfortable. We treat them with the utmost dignity and respect. That is what we are here for,” Simmons says.
Pat is married to Greg Simmons of Simmons Home Builders. She assists her husband by dressing model homes. She is also a role model to hundreds of women each year for the past five years as president of Dress for Success Tulsa.
Adkisson is a single parent raising her four-year old daughter, Aubrey.
Dress for Success operates through grants, donations, and is grateful for corporate sponsors like Avon. Each of 85 affiliates is individually funded. The corporate office is in New York. Attorney Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide, is from Tulsa and an OU graduate.
Nancy Lublin founded the organization in 1996 with a $5,000 inheritance from her great grandfather Poppy Max.
Fashion show models at this year’s Step Up To Success fashion show are: Amanda Clinton, Cherokee Nations Businesses; Tim Colwell, Williams Companies; Earl Denning, Hillcrest Healthcare System; Katrina Moss, Explorer Pipeline Company; Maureen Petty, Petty’s Fine Foods; Lisa Phelps, Chesapeake Energy Corporation; James “Jimmy” Russell, Smith Barney; Angela Swift, Francis Oil & Gas, Inc.; Donna Weinkauf, Weinkauf Petroleum.
For ticket information, corporate sponsorship and donations, call (918) 599-8892.
Clothing donations may be new or gently used. Check the Web site, email@example.com, for their “wish list.”
The payoff is in knowing someone will be getting a paycheck because of you.
Ciao for now, my generous readers.