Organization provides free clothing for job interviews

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- When interviewing for a job, first impressions matter.  It's important to "look the part."  But what if you couldn't afford things like suits or dress shoes due to circumstances like homelessness or incarceration?

There’s a unique boutique in Bay View that provides suits, dresses, accessories and shoes to those in need.

“I was released almost a year ago from Taycheedah Correctional Institution.  With no clothing, no support, nobody to give them that push and build that self-esteem, it's pretty hard),” said Johanna Alvarez, who was incarcerated for 7 years.

She had joined a job readiness program and was referred to Diva/Divo on the 2nd floor of Christ Church on Oklahoma Avenue for a clothing consultation.

“I was like, ‘Here we go, another place, picking from out of a bin.’  But when I was in here, I was mesmerized,” said Alvarez.

The women's and men's clothes closet provides new and gently used clothes for interviews and a few other outfits for work, all for free.

“I'm a social worker, and community organization and helping people in need is where my passions lie,” said Diva/Divo Executive Director Michele Billingsley.

The organization is now celebrating its 10th year, helping thousands of people, like Alvarez, find that next job.

“It was like a 2nd home to me, it was a blessing,” said Alvarez.

Not only does Diva/ Divo provide clothing to its clients, it also provides mentoring and mock interviews as well.

“Research the job, try to use their language, come up with appropriate answers for those difficult questions,” said Billingsley.

The goal is to build self confidence, especially when times are tough, while giving that needed push to get others back on their feet.

“If I can do it, they can do it,” said Alvarez.

Diva/Divo is always looking for donors and volunteers.  If you would like to help or get more information about the job readiness program, click here.