Formerly homeless man now helps others dress for success

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Gentleman's Closet is a place where those that are unemployed or underemployed can get suitable clothing for job interviews. (WLS)

A new program in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood is helping men get back on their feet. Their motto is: if you look good, you feel good.

Gentleman's Closet is a place where those that are unemployed or underemployed can get suitable clothing for job interviews. The idea was sparked by two men looking to improve the lives of those around them.

"I was homeless myself for quite a while, maybe for about two years of so. I know the struggle and the struggle is like really real out there. Guys just having some clothes can make them feel back human again sometime," said Elijah Henry, one of the men behind Gentleman's Closet. Experiencing homeliness himself sparked the idea for this project.

Henry brought the idea to Pastor Terrance Miller and from there, they got to work turning the extra space in his home into a place to help others.

"It's nothing worse than a person going into an interview and not dressed appropriately and feeling bad about themselves. We felt if a person dresses nice then they are going to feel good and that will increase their chances in getting hired in their job. We have been able to receive 300 suits from mostly ministries on the South Side in the Woodlawn area," Miller said.

But it's not just about the suits. They offer mock interviews and a connection workforce development programs. They are hoping to take the program a step further this year.

"Ideally we would like to be able to supply them with at least a 7-day bus pass so that way they will at least get them started. The other is a larger facility. Because of the amount of clothes we have, we have definitely out grown this space. So we are definitely in need of a new location so that we can better serve the individuals that come through these doors," Miller said.

These two men see Chicago as a city of opportunities and they hope to help prepare people for the future.

"It's really a blessing because this is where my heart lies when it comes to reaching back and reaching those in desperate need," Henry said.

This community and this city is full of possibilities and you have people here on the ground you know that are doing great things. So I'm encouraged so I guess you can call me a hopeless optimist," Miller said.

So if you know of a good place for expansion, you want to donate or volunteer, click here to contact Gentleman's Closet.

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Related Topics:
societychicago proudcommunityhomelesscareersjobsChicagoWoodlawn
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