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Aid charity, meet players at Football Finale

By Hilary Trenda

Gentlemen, (and female football fans) you’re about to find yourselves in a win-win situation.

What if I told you that this Sunday doesn’t have to be the end of football season? Suppose instead there’s a post-Super Bowl party featuring drinks and discussion with former NFL players, who will break down the biggest plays from Sunday’s game?

Oh, and P.S., you’ll simultaneously be helping area women break the cycle of poverty.

You’re all in, right?

Next Wednesday, Dress for Success Charlotte and The Charlotte Former Player Foundation will host their first “Football Finale” event at Charlotte City Club. Cocktails start at 5:30 p.m. and the program will start at 6:30.

What exactly is Dress for Success Charlotte? It’s the local affiliate of an international nonprofit that helps disadvantaged women achieve financial independence – by providing professional attire, career development resources and more – all at no cost.

Kerry Barr O’Connor, executive director with Dress for Success Charlotte, said at least a dozen players (maybe as many as 20) will attend Wednesday’s party and give first-hand perspective on the game, be available for autographs, one-on-one networking and more.

Through Friday, tickets to the party are $40. After that, the price goes to $50. Either way, all proceeds go toward helping local women be successful in the workforce.

“A lot of these (NFL alumni) get it; they were raised by single moms,” Barr O’Connor said. “They’re teddy bears off the field who want to open a door for women in the community.”

I toured the Dress for Success Charlotte boutique off Clanton Road this week and was surprised and impressed with what I learned about the organization.

Through community donations, volunteer help and agency partnerships, Dress for Success provides women with little to no income at least two interview-appropriate outfits for free. Job training resources, professional and leadership development are also available at no cost.

“We say women leave here 4 inches taller than when they walked in, and it has nothing to do with the shoes we give them,” Barr O’Connor said, adding the right outfit helps to build a woman’s confidence.

Yeah. Clothes can do that.

Once she’s landed the job, Barr O’Connor said, Dress for Success tries to make sure each woman has up to five work-ready outfits when inventory allows.

I think I found the solution on where to donate clothing in the future.

Donations are taken by appointment only, Barr O’Connor said, and their inventory was impressive, both with range of sizes and styles and brand representation

While I was at the boutique, waiting in a plastic bin to be processed were a brand-new pair of Manolo Blahniks, still in the box. They were in good company with a pair of Salvatore Ferragamos, Tracy Reese and the like.

(You’ll be happy to hear that three times a year Dress for Success Charlotte hosts an “inventory reduction” event, and the next one is March 8. All proceeds go back into the program.)

For tickets to the Football Finale: www.dressforsuccess.org/charlotte.

For details and pictures of the Dress for Success Charlotte Boutique, check out Hilary Trenda’s blog at cltatyourbest.blogspot.com.

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