There are many barriers to finding employment for minority men or for those with low-income backgrounds, but Alderman Russell Stamper and America Works for Wisconsin wants to make sure a suit isn’t one of them.
Last week, America Works, whose Milwaukee office lives in the YWCA building on MLK Drive, hosted men from all over the city, offering them assistance with getting drivers licenses and providing job resources, like the fancy digs they gave to each man who visited the event.
Listen to the audio story below to learn about this suit giveaway for Milwaukee’s men.
“I’m here for a suit and shoes because I don’t have those things,” said a young, homeless man who stopped by to pick up a suit. He walked away with shoes, extra ties and extra dress shoes on top of his charcoal suit. All of this would normally cost hundreds of dollars.
A sharp, well-fitted outfit like this one is something that many men cannot afford, even though it’s the dress code for many job interviews.
“I mean it’s a brand new suit,” he said. “For just the purpose of going to interviews [and] looking nice, this is very much a blessing.”
He posed with Alderman Stamper and V100’s DJ Reggie Smooth Az Butta Brown as a small flood of other men getting sized up for their suits. Volunteers helped men find their true suit size and gave them different color options based on their needs.
While the event invited “young men and adults looking to advance their employment,” the event was geared towards men who were minorities or who come from low-income backgrounds. Their need was obvious as the room quickly filled with African-American and Latino men from different generations.
“They always have suits, [but] this is our first time promoting it,” said Alderman Stamper. Carlyle Outten, who is the Director of America Works Wisconsin, added “We have a person dedicated to finding these suits so it’s always available for the people.”
The turnout was more than the duo expected, so now they hope to host suit giveaways more often. Outten asked those who came out for a suit to spread the word around the community. “If they do that, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t, we’ll do this every month,” said Outten.
If you’re interested in donating suits, ties, dress shoes or other accessories to support this community initiative, Outten says reach out to America Works Wisconsin directly for more information on setting up a donation.