Easy Reader Front Page

South Bay suited for job challenge

by John Tawa

Need an excuse to clean out your closets? This one's as good as any.

The Manhattan Village Shopping Center and the Women in Business Committee of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to collect business attire to help people get started or re-started in business. Their goal is to collect 1,000 suits by Oct. 16.

"Last year, Macerich malls nationwide conducted a community audit to find out where we could help out as community members giving back," said Margo Heltzel, marketing director of Macerich-owned Manhattan Village. "In Southern California, we found that there was a need to help get people back into the work force through job fairs, resume writing and fashion shows that teach people how to present themselves for interviews."

The drive to collect 1,000 suits is being spearheaded in Manhattan Beach. To date, 120 women's suits have been collected, but Heltzel hopes to exceed the goal well before the Oct. 16 deadline. Several organizations are mobilizing to donate suits, she said, including Macerich nationwide, the Sandpipers, Women in Management Organization and Loyola Women's Roundtable.

While the focus is on women, men's suits will gladly be accepted.

"There seems to be a larger need to help women re-enter the work force," Heltzel explained.

"Women could have all the skills, all the capabilities to be effective in the work force," said Manhattan Beach Chamber President and CEO Debbie Terrill. "However, if they do not have the proper attire and appearance, they will not be hired."

Terrill expects to donate 10 suits. She urges everyone to donate.

"These suits are for women who wish to go out into the work force," she explained. "They will enable women not only to interview, but also to have some clothes when they actually start working."

Suits received will be cleaned and pressed by sponsor Fazio Cleaners and turned over to three public agencies - 1736 Family Crisis Center, Department of Public Social Service-GAIN Welfare to Work Program and Dress for Success-Los Angeles -- dedicated to getting people back to work.

Heltzel also urges South Bay families to donate.

"We're a very fortunate community," Heltzel said. "Maybe you decided you don't want to wear that short of a skirt or green just isn't your color. Everyone has five suits they're not using."

Heltzel practices what she preaches.

"So far I've found five," she explained. "I've got another whole closet to clean."

To donate a suit, please call 310-546-5558 or bring the suit to the Manhattan Village Management Office. ER


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