WIN, Dress for Success combine efforts to help women transition into employment

Amber Beck holds a scrub top in front of two of the Dress for Success clothing racks. Scrub donations are welcomed by the ministry along with other women’s outfits suitable for employment. (Advance photo)

The Women’s Initiative Network is positioning itself to be especially helpful to its clients as the pandemic wanes and the job market opens up.
Amber Beck, WIN’s executive director, said the ministry decided last year that it wanted to strengthen its continuum of care, so it teamed up with Dress for Success.

WIN provides advocacy, emotional support, mentoring, coaching, and instruction that allows women to regain economic stability. Dress for Success, an international organization, helps women gain economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools.

“Dress for Success is a perfect partnership,” Beck said. “It was a natural fit. They help women with employment and we work with domestic violence survivors to get them back into the employment community.”

Boards join forces

The boards of both organizations realized that instead of fighting for resources, she said, they could partner, join resources, and be better able to help women in need. WIN’s location, four blocks north of the Wichita Transit Center, also makes it more convenient for those without transportation.

Dress for Success’ assets were transferred to WIN and WIN was licensed by the Dress for Success national office, Beck said. “We never stopped operating Dress For Success Wichita, it just became a (WIN) program and we became the fiscal agent.”

Women seeking assistance or who are referred, initially sit down with a licensed master-level social worker concerning how they can best be served. During the interview, clients learn about related agencies such as the Guadalupe Clinic.

“We can offer eye exams. We have some great eye doctors around the area and we partner with Target for them to get their glasses,” she said. “It’s enabled us to up our ability to help with that continuum of care.”

After clients choose employment outfits for job interviews, Beck said the agency will follow-up with an inquiry about how the interview went and if the client needs any more assistance.

WIN employs up to 12 women

WIN employs up to a dozen women who work 28 hours a week, as part of their training. Over half of their week is spent learning transferable skills and the remainder is spent in therapy, case management, credit counseling, and other forms of enrichment.

WIN also has a weekly Love and Logic parenting class and partners with the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas which specializes in the prevention, treatment, and case management of individuals affected by substance abuse.

Businesses needing help may contact Beck. “I love it when employers reach out because I have a network of women looking for jobs and I’m always looking for employers looking for employees.”

Stephanie Gaskill Jakub, WIN’s the board chair, said the ministry is thrilled with the number of women who have been able to continue their services of care through the joined forces of both organizations.

“In a very short period of time we have seen first-hand how working together to provide a continuum of care has a much larger impact than we even imagined for the women in our programs. Women can seamlessly move through our programs and our affiliate programs without interruption, providing a much better opportunity for attaining successful economic independence.”

WIN was founded in the late 1990s by an Adorer of the Blood of Christ and a member of the Sisters of Charity. Dress for Success was founded in 1997, has since expanded to almost 150 cities in 25 countries, and has helped more than 1.2 million women work towards self-sufficiency.

Need some help?

The Wichita Women’s Initiative Network is located at 510 E. Third St. N. in Wichita. For information call 316-262-3960 or email win@wichitawin.org.