Troy nonprofit launches program to help women find new careers

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published March 6, 2024

 Women in need of business-oriented clothing can speak to the case workers at UCFS-CALC to find the perfect outfit for free so they can help further their career opportunities.

Women in need of business-oriented clothing can speak to the case workers at UCFS-CALC to find the perfect outfit for free so they can help further their career opportunities.

Photo provided by Kristin Olmedo


TROY — In the lead-up to International Women’s Day Friday, March 8, the Troy-based United Community Family Services-Chaldean American Ladies of Charity is launching its Clothes for a Cause initiative.

Led by the UCFS-CALC’s Women’s Business Institute, the organization’s Sharehouse is collecting and then offering business and formal attire for women suitable for job interviews and other business environments.

“The program provides women with business professional clothing so when they go out looking for jobs they can dress appropriately,” explained UCFS-CALC President and CEO Kristin Olmedo. “It’s a new program for us. We’ve always accepted new and gently used clothing for other purposes, but that didn’t usually mean formal or business attire, so a lot of our clients didn’t have access to that, despite needing it.”

Vanessa Denha Garmo, the head of the Women’s Business Institute, said that this need is particularly important for those the UCFS-CALC serves, since they focus heavily on aiding those new to the United States.

“A lot of the clientele that our organization caters to are new immigrants, so they are trying to get on their feet,” she said. “They might be divorced or have lost a husband, so they are new to the workforce. We are helping them get clothes for job interviews. This is a more holistic form of aid as it’s helping them get on their feet so they won’t need help down the line.”

The new initiative was made possible by a grant from the state of Michigan for $437,700.

“We recently have been awarded a new grant, the Barrier Removal and Employment Success Expansion Initiative, which is through the state of Michigan, which is designed to help get people into the workforce and remove barriers to employment,” Olmedo said. “With International Women’s Day coming up it seemed like a good opportunity to ask the community for help with this and launch it.”

The program is intended to be a permanent one for UCFS-CALC, and anyone who needs assistance is welcome to speak to them.

“People can donate clothes at our office, at 2033 Austin Drive in Troy. They can call us or visit our website at for more information,” said Olmedo. “Those looking for help can contact (248) 528-0130 and ask for a case manager to discuss their needs.”

“This is about women helping other women in need. It helps them get a leg up,” Denha Garmo added. “We have a lot of successful women who are doing well in their careers, and they just want a way to give back.”

Both said that this is a great way for people to help others get on their feet and build their lives while doing little more than taking a look inside their closets.

“For someone like myself, who is a professional in the workforce, my closet is overflowing, so I take for granted that I can just pick something out to go to work every day,” said Olmedo. “Not everyone has that, so we need to band together to help all women move forward.”

“A lot of women have clothing in their closets that they haven’t worn for three or four years,” added Denha Garmo. “If it’s professional business attire, maybe give it to someone who can actually benefit from it. It also gives women the confidence to do well in a job interview. You’re always nervous in an interview, but if you feel like you fit in and have the proper confidence, you can do better in that interview.”