For more than two years, Blue Jacket has been on our target list of organization’s that we wanted to learn more about and volunteer with. It is an organization that specializes in second chances. And who doesn’t need, and deserve, a second chance at some point in life? We all do. We all make mistakes. We all error. We all mess up. As I sit here thinking about the second chances that I have been given during my lifetime, there are a lot of them. I have been the recipient of grace many times and I am sure that you have too.
Blue Jacket is a nonprofit organization that provides adult ex-offenders, and other hard-to-employ individuals, the tools and opportunities to be productive members of our community and society. They restore hope and confidence in those who are carrying guilt and feel that there is no better tomorrow. Through job readiness and employment services, men and women who have been in prison become better equipped for today’s workforce. A four-week Career Academy puts these individuals on the right path by focusing on doing the right things and acting the appropriate way. Employment opportunities will follow once the attitude and proper actions are in place.
One way that Blue Jacket supports its clients is through its clothing store. This store offers a large inventory of business professional clothing to Career Academy clients at no cost. It gives each person the opportunity to dress for success which makes it easier to gain employment. The store is open to the public which means that community members can also have fashionable, professional dress available to them at bargain prices.
This week we volunteered to help with merchandising within the store. Each month mannequins are redressed and new outfits are hung on the ways to create a new, fresh look for shoppers. Each month the clothing featured centers around a theme. For march, the theme is Saint Patrick’s Day so we focused on the color green. We worked through the racks and racks of clothes to find as many green options. Using the long hook on a stick (well, the girls used the stick. This mutant-like, extra tall person didn’t need it) we removed the previous months outfits from the display area and replaced them with green ones. The girls used their fashion expertise to create a few combinations that highlighted a green blazer, white lace shirt, and black skirt. They enjoyed putting the outfits together. We had planned to help with other store tasks, but unfortunately Kelsi became sick and we had to cut our volunteer experience a little short. Despite the shorter than expected time, we fully understand the impact that Blue Jacket and the clothing store has on those who use it.
Blue Jacket needs professional volunteers who are willing to conduct in mock job interviews and participate on an employer roundtable. Both of these events are important pieces to the Career Academy’s success. I encourage you to reach out to the great folks at Blue Jacket. The staff is unbelievable and the services that they provide to our community are best-in-class. Get involved and help someone who is trying to successfully re-enter society. You can make a difference. Second chances are everybody’s business.
Will you do your part?