Dress for Success nonprofit attempts to move forward after arson fire
Dress for Success-Oklahoma City, a nonprofit that provides free business wear, job training and career assistance for women in the community, is grateful for the community's help in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the organization's building.
The nonprofit's building at 1215 N Western was destroyed in a fire on Saturday that was set after people vandalized buildings in and around downtown Oklahoma City after a protest. The local agency is a branch of a national organization.
Monday, Necie Black, the agency's vice chairman, said everything in the organization was destroyed except files containing the agency's client information. She said the files were kept in a file cabinet that was damaged but not destroyed.
She said the interior of the agency's building was set up like a boutique so that women could have a shopping experience like one they might have in any retail clothing store or shop. Women could shop among the free items that created such an experience — professional suits, dresses, shoes, pants, accessories and undergarments — but these items were destroyed.
Black said the nonprofit had a career station with 20 computers that had been donated, and they melted in the fire. A storage area that housed overflow apparel and other items also was destroyed in the fire.
"We're basically starting over, starting over all the way," Black said.
The agency is grateful for the community's support in the aftermath of the fire.
"It's been amazing. It has been just so tremendous," Black said.
She said Dress for Success-Oklahoma City's board of directors will meet soon in an emergency session to discuss strategies for moving forward. Black said several offers of possible temporary locations have been made and the board likely will discuss them in addition to other issues.
Meanwhile, the fire has not stopped the agency from continuing to help its clients. In fact, a client needed clothing Monday, and the agency purchased some items for her in the absence of the boutique-style shop once housed in its building.
Black, an executive leadership coach, said the organization's clients come through referral by agencies like the Department of Human Services or nonprofits like City Rescue Mission. She said some of the women have escaped domestic violence or have been victimized in other ways.
Black said the organization isn't taking clothing donations at this time because they don't have storage yet. However, the agency is accepting monetary donations, and a GoFundMe account has been set up on the organization's Facebook page.
For more information or to make a donation, go to the organization's website at dressforsuccessokc.org, or go to the GoFundMe on the Dress for Success page on Facebook.