'Dress For Success' driving force is Cork Person of the Month
The driving force behind the Cork branch of an international initiative that has helped transform the lives of hundreds of local women has been honoured with one of Leeside's most prestigious accolades.
Carmel O'Keeffe, who in 2013 founded the Cork 'Dress For Success' branch, has been named as the Cork Person of the Month for May in recognition of her immense contribution to the organisation at local level.
'Dress For Success' is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that in its own words 'empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and developmental tools to help women thrive in work and life. All of this at no cost to its clients.
Originally founded in 1997 by New York law graduate Nancy Lubin, the initiative now operates in more than 150 cities across 30 countries and has helped more than a million women helps achieve their personal goals.
The organisations website points out that, despite its title, 'Dress For Success' is about much more than "simply a new outfit."
'Our vision is a world where women do not live in poverty. We strive for a world where all women are financially independent, are treated with dignity and respect and are directly impacting their lives and those of their families,' it says.
'Besides physically equipping the client with apparel and accessories, our programmes furnish her with a confidence that she carries forever and the knowledge that she can actively define her life, the direction she takes and what success means to her.'
The majority of its funding and clothing comes from private and corporate donations.
Since its establishment six-years ago, the Cork branch has helped more than 800 women achieve workplace success, with more than 500 of those going onto secure paid employment. On average, each client receives €1,500 worth of clothing in addition to one-on-one coaching sessions.
Unlike other branches, Carmel and her team of 30 volunteers offer training to help women both professionally and personally, assisting them to achieve what she described as "a positive growth mindset."
"Some 97% of the women who have visited the Cork branch have experienced higher self-esteem, with 94% of clients feeling that their self-confidence is greatly improved," said Carmel.
"At Dress for Success Cork, we are so grateful for the continuous support of the people of Cork. This award recognises both a team and a county that is committed to creating an equal opportunities society," she added.
Person of the Month awards founder and sponsor, Mallow man Manus O'Callaghan, said Carmel was a worthy winner of the May award.
"Dress for Success is an amazing initiative designed to support Cork women pursuing professional and personal development. Carmel's dedication to supporting the women of Cork both professionally and emotionally is inspiring," he said.
Carmel O'Keeffe's name will now go forward for possible selection as the 2019 Cork Person of the Year, the winner of which will be announced at a gala awards event next January.