Pat Jones, executive director of the Dress for Success program in Wichita, said the organization seeks to help women get back on their feet and find success in the workforce. Women are able to receive new business attire from the organization and also participate in an intensive 12-week program where they receive tips on job skills such as resumes and interviews.
Store manager Yolanda Horton’s bright smile and cheerful confidence have become regular features at the Newton Wal-Mart — ones that undoubtedly will be missed by customers and her co-workers now that she’s been transferred to another store.
Yet customers who’ve walked past her in the Newton store may not realize the many challenges she had to overcome to reach this point in her career, or know about the time she now devotes to serving as a mentor to women through the Dress for Success organization.
“Not only does Dress for Success help put women in new suits, it changes their lives,” Horton said. “... (They) see me now, well put together, but seven years ago, I was a broken spirit. Being able to stand there and show them the other side, it helps them.”
‘Destined for great things’
Pat Jones, executive director of the Dress for Success program in Wichita, said the organization seeks to help women get back on their feet and find success in the workforce.
Women are able to receive new business attire from the organization and also participate in an intensive 12-week program where they receive tips on job skills such as resumes and interviews.
Wal-Mart sponsors the 12-week course, called the “Going Places Network,” and Horton has served as a mentor in the program.
She’s been able to share her story with a variety of women, and show them no matter what they’ve gone through, there still is hope.
Horton remembers a time when she was a single mother working two jobs at different retailers and feeling discouraged about her future. She wasn’t sure what her skill sets were and didn’t know how to give her daughter a better life.
“I felt like I was better than that,” she said. “I knew that I was better than working two dead-end jobs. ... I knew that I was destined for great things.”
She applied to Wal-Mart, and through working at various stores, she met several mentors who helped to build her confidence. She recalls working for a store manager in Oklahoma who encouraged her to set goals for her future.
Horton said the manager asked her, “‘What do you want to be? Where do you see yourself in five years?’”
“No one had ever asked me that before,” she said.
Horton eventually became store manager at the Newton Wal-Mart and now serves as a store manager at the Wal-Mart on North Rock Road in Wichita.
Horton said her daughter was so proud to walk into the store and see her mom’s picture hanging up on the wall, and she hopes her story will inspire her daughter to dream big too.
“You can do anything you put your mind to,” Horton said.
A new start
Horton said women come to Dress for Success feeling discouraged or afraid and may not have a good sense of self-worth. Dress for Success aims to increase their self-confidence and give them the skills they need to succeed.
“It gives them something they can feel good about themselves,” she said.
Executive director Pat Jones said in order to participate in the program, women need to be referred by one of 78 area agencies. For a list of those agencies, visit www.dressforsuccess.org/dfs_affiliates.aspx and click on the “Wichita” link. You also can call 945-8779.