Akron Urban League, Access taking professional clothing, jewelry


Pat Mihelis from West Akron recently called me to ask if I knew of a nonprofit organization where she could donate professional clothes for her late husband.

After a bit of research, I saw that the Akron Urban League had a career wardrobe where people who are going to be interviewed for a job can get a free head-to-toe outfit. Then the person can come back after getting the job and get five more outfits.

As timing would have it, the Career Clothing Closet was set to reopen to the public after it closed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, another organization, Access, accepts donations of fine and costume jewelry for its annual fundraiser. I will share the details of that in this column.

The closet was exactly what Mihelis was looking for. Her husband of 46 years, Mike, had just died.

“He was from that generation that would dress when you went out,” she said. “He still thought you should do this.” He couldn’t imagine going [a nice restaurant] in jeans and a T-shirt. I have four shelves downstairs and two small closets upstairs for her clothes. Many still have labels on them. They are all branded.

She plans to donate some to the Urban League and take some to a consignment store.

The closet, which is open to the public, offers a wide variety of clothing for women and men at the Akron Urban League.

Fitting job seekers with clothes

Here are some details about the closet, which solicits donations:

The closet just reopened to the public last week, said Lynn Puryear, director of workforce development for the Akron Urban League.

“Anyone in need of career clothing is welcome,” Puryear said.

The cupboard is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. No appointment is necessary. The Urban League is located at 440 Vernon Odom Blvd., and the phone number is 330-434-3101. He shares a building with Helen Arnold Community Learning Center.

Dwayne Richardson, Senior Director of Workplace Development at the Akron Urban League, presents the selection of men's shirts available in the closet.

The Akron Urban League also accepts donations for the Career Clothing Closet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays. Again, no appointment is necessary. The closet will accommodate clothing for men and women as well as dress shoes, jewelry, handbags and ties for men. Donations are tax deductible.

“We currently accept new and lightly worn fall and winter business and casual clothing and accessories,” Puryear said. “We hope that the community will donate clothing and accessories that they would be personally proud to wear to work. Perhaps they can no longer fit clothes or downsize and no longer have the space, or their job is now remote and business attire is no longer required. The closet does not have the space to accept casual clothes, jeans or children’s clothing.

People can come back every 90 days for more clothes from the closet.

The closet also accepts dress shoes, jewelry, handbags and men's ties.

Professional development

Akron’s Urban League Workforce Development division also offers other support services, such as job search tools, and may be able to provide referrals or resources if anyone. One has a barrier to getting a job, such as transportation or babysitting.

In addition, the Urban League is offering free professional development workshops this month, open to the public. They are preparing for a free job fair that the organization is holding on October 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the fair, job seekers can network and have on-site interviews with employers. There is also a free CV assessment, although registration is required for this. Registration is also encouraged for the job fair, where masks will be mandatory. For more information, visit www.akronurbanleague.com/careerfair.

The organization just had a Boot Camp pre-work session, but other free pre-work sessions are available in person or virtually. All sessions are from noon to 1 p.m. Register at www.akronurbanleague.org/events/job-preparation-workshops.

  • Drafting of CV and cover letter: Sept.
  • Your personal brand and social media presence: September 23
  • Online job search best practices to stand out at hiring events: September 28
  • Successful interview and follow-up strategies: Sept.

Access accepting jewelry donations

Access, an emergency shelter for women and children, hosts its annual Jewelry Box fundraiser, where it sells lightly used costume jewelry and fine jewelry. But the event has been changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In previous years, the organization has organized its fundraiser into several parts, including a happy hour with special tickets, a VIP event and a public event on Saturday. But with the pandemic, the organization decided it couldn’t host the public event, which typically attracted hundreds of people.

This year there will be happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 4. Only 120 tickets will be priced at $ 25 for entry to the event, where all costume jewelry will be priced at $ 5 apiece, said Joy Raub, Access director of engagement. The event will have a DJ and aperitifs.

A separate VIP event, by invitation only, will also take place. In addition, there will be a public silent online auction.

For more information, visit www.access-shelter.org.

Fundraising relies on donations from the public, which will be accepted until October 1. This year, in particular, the organization needs more fine jewelry, but will also accept costume jewelry.

Additionally, if you have jewelry that is not paired, like a solo earring or a broken bracelet with pieces, Access will take those as well. Craftsmen like to buy bags of parts for their projects, Raub said.

Jewelry donations can be brought to the Access offices at 230 W. Market in Akron from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Donations are tax deductible.

Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or at www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ. To see her most recent stories and columns, visit www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher.

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