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Chantil Ellis calls it a perfect fit.

Recently, CATO fashions clothing store donated six large boxes of women’s clothing and accessories to Uniquely Yours Stability Support, a Fremont-based agency designed to prevent or help people move out of homelessness — and get families on the road to permanent stability.

CATO is donating the end-of-the-year fashions to help women get a new outfit to wear to a job interview.

For the past year, the store has been looking for a project that would benefit from the clothing. It found just the right fit in Uniquely Yours.

“We are a women’s clothing store and they’re helping women,” said Ellis, the store manager.

On Tuesday morning, Robin Ritter, chief executive officer of UYSS, and Heather Evans, program director, went to the Fremont store to get the clothing and other items.

Ritter and Evans didn’t try to disguise their excitement.

Amid good-natured chatter — and a few oohs and ahhs — the women looked through the clothing.

Donated items include shirts, jackets, pants, dresses, socks and skirts, along with jewelry, purses and shoes. Some items are dressier, while others are more casual.

The donations include clothing of different colors and prints — and sizes.

Items range in junior and misses sizes from 4 to 16 along with plus sizes from 16 to 28.

Ellis and Tina Avis, first assistant, even put together some example outfits to help the would-be interviewees. For example, one outfit includes a blouse, cardigan, skirt and bracelets. A more casual outfit includes a dress shirt and jeans.

“Different jobs have different specifications for what outfit you might need,” Ellis said. “We can cover it all.”

Women who need clothing for an interview may come to UYSS with a voucher from a referring agency or come and fill out a voucher packet. They’ll meet with a community resource navigator, who can connect them with agencies and services for other needs.

The women then go to the UYSS Interview Clothing Shop, which has a dressing room for them.

“We have a lot of fun helping women choose an outfit that’s going to make them feel empowered and confident to walk into a job interview and nail it,” Evans said.

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The women can get one free outfit for an interview. They then can return with verification that they got the job and get up to four more outfits if needed. The dialogue between the woman and the resource navigator is confidential.

Ritter and Evans are grateful for the contribution.

“We are so incredibly thrilled for the collaboration,” Ritter said. “It is going to empower a great number of women.”

Ritter appreciates the donations of plus-size clothing.

“We get a lot of requests for that and sometimes it can be difficult to accommodate those larger sizes,” Ritter said.

CATO also is participating in the UYSS Community Charity Competition by hosting a fashion show from 7-8 p.m. May 29 in Kimmel Theatre on the Midland University campus. The public is invited. A freewill donation will be accepted.

Some of the women from families helped by UYSS will be in the fashion show.

Ellis added that after women get a job and have income, they come to the store to shop.

“It’s fun for us,” she said of helping the women. “When you see someone come out of that fitting room, you can see the confidence in their face. I think that’s what we all want.”


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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