Since its founding in 2009, more than 5,000 women have come to Dress for Success Triangle for career coaching, peer support and a professional wardrobe appropriate for job interviews. That’s four women every working day of the year. Pat Nathan, considers each of those women a friend.
“I’ve gained friendships with women from so many different walks of life,” says Pat. “That’s been the best part of my work at Dress for Success Triangle.”
The inspiration for Dress for Success Triangle came when Pat was working abroad and volunteered to host a suit drive for the London affiliate of Dress for Success: “They loaned me a poster to use for promotion and it showed a woman in a business jacket. In bold letters it read: TO SOME WOMEN, THIS IS A LIFE JACKET! That image burned into my subconscious and my heart.”
Six years later, after taking early retirement from 30 years in the corporate world, the image from the poster still resonated with Pat: “After retiring, I returned to my native North Carolina. I was struck by the poverty, particularly among single women – and that image from the poster surfaced again. I knew I wanted every woman in our community to have a life jacket – and Dress for Success was born in the Triangle.”
Now, five years after its founding, Dress for Success Triangle is one of the strongest and fastest-growing affiliates in the country. Pat points out that in addition to the 5,000 women served, at least 10,000 children have also been helped by the agency, gaining not only the stability of an employed-parent household, but also the example of mothers who have found a new sense of self.
To recognize her many years of volunteer service, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs Kathy Higgins presented Pat with a Community Champion award during the company’s Month of Thanks initiative in November. The recognition includes a donation of $5,000 to Dress for Success Triangle, funds that will be used to help more women enter or re-enter the work force.
“Our goal is to achieve a 50% employment rate for the women we’ve served in 2014,” notes Pat. “We want to help women see themselves differently when they look in the mirror and carry themselves differently in their daily lives.”
The greatest reward for Pat? “There are no sweeter words than when the phone rings and I hear: ‘I got the job!’ Women often call us to tell us the good news before calling anyone else – that says a lot about the bonds that are formed.”
BCBSNC Senior Program Manager for Community Relations Kristy Kent applauds Pat’s creative approach to volunteering: “Pat is a wonderful example to anyone who wants to contribute in a meaningful way to the community. She recognized a need in the Triangle and used her professional experience and expertise to rally like-minded individuals around women seeking to escape poverty and establish a better life for themselves and their families. Our community is stronger because of Pat’s vision and perseverance. BCBSNC is proud to support Dress for Success Triangle and the women served by the agency.”
To learn more about Dress for Success Triangle’s mission and how you can support it, visit http://www.dressforsuccesstrianglenc.org/.
Learn more about Month of Thanks and our Community Champions for 2014: