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Newport Beach Resident is a Tailor-Made Volunteer for Working Wardrobes

(L to R): Christine Ragos, Board member Chris Little, Alexa Medrano and Bonni Pomush (Director of Working Wardrobes)

At some point in life, you’ll need help. It might be solving your first math problem, adjusting to the psychological uncertainties of early teen hood, or coping with the extremes of acute unemployment, homelessness, and food insecurity.

Among the many Orange County nonprofits devoted to helping the temporarily down- and-out is Working Wardrobes, whose institutional theme line is “The Power of a Paycheck.” Further, their mission states that “We help people overcome barriers to gainful employment.”

In its 25 years of service to individuals from diverse sets of backgrounds including military, those impacted by the justice system, and survivors of domestic violence, Working Wardrobes has helped 125,000 members of our community with the resources, confidence, and skills they need to find and maintain gainful employment and achieve lasting emotional and economic stability.

Last year, the Working Wardrobes surpassed its impact goal of helping 5,000 by assisting a total of 5,579 individuals.

It’s a marketing truism that if the name of a company (or charity) along with its theme clearly defines an entity’s product or purpose, the first challenge of that company’s identity has been met.

Working Wardrobes’ moniker couldn’t be clearer. Their “The Hanger” retail clothing outlets located in Costa Mesa, Garden Grove and Laguna Niguel demonstrate that as well. To that end, the outlets received more than 600,000 new and “gently used” clothing and accessory donations. Obviously, the community at-large knows and supports Working Wardrobes, and its purpose.

Management, along with 2,249 dedicated volunteers, makes the Working Wardrobes- gears spin. Helping to “oil” those gears is an equally devoted board consisting of 22 members from leading corporations throughout Orange County.

Newport Beach resident Greg Little, 47, is one of that group. A vice president and managing director of Newport-based Pacific Life (a Fortune 500 company), Little learned of Working Wardrobes from a neighbor who also served on the board.

“I discovered that other Pacific Life members had been board members. I looked into the charity’s mission, and it really resonated with me. I knew if I joined the board, not only would it be fulfilling for me, but it would be a great example to set for my children,” said Little.

Little took time recently to answer questions about his involvement with Working Wardrobes:

NB Indy: What responsibilities come with your board position?

Little: As a board member, I work collectively with the rest of the group to uplift Working Wardrobes as ambassadors/advocates, and we are responsible for the fiscal health and governance of the organization. That means I help open doors, make connections, provide oversight, and enhance Working Wardrobes ability to fulfill its mission.

NB Indy: How much time monthly do you spend with Working Wardrobes:

Little: Five hours

NB Indy: Why did you align with Working Wardrobes?

Little: I wanted to make a direct contribution to my own community. Working Wardrobes’ mission of offering a range of resources to help people overcome barriers to gainful employment is especially important in a place like Orange County where the cost of living is extremely high. Targeting people who are self- motivated to make a better life for themselves and their families aligns particularly well with my own values.

NB Indy: Are there other Newport residents that you know of that contribute time or money to Working Wardrobes?

Little: Yes, Working Wardrobes has several current and former board members and volunteers who reside in Newport Beach.

NB Indy: Are there any Newport businesses that actively support Working Wardrobes?

Little: Absolutely! Pacific Life, Pimco, Capital Group, and BNY Mellon Wealth Management are examples of Newport businesses actively supporting Working Wardrobes.

NB Indy: How do you feel you’ve contributed to WW in the time that you’ve spent with the charity?

Little: As a board member, we each serve on subcommittees to contribute to different areas of the organization. I serve on the Development Committee which is focused on fundraising. In this capacity I have reignited Pacific Life’s annual contributions to Working Wardrobes, which has been highly supportive of the organization over the years. I also led a fundraising campaign from my personal network to support Working Wardrobes’ semi-annual Power Up for Success event at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. This is one of Working Wardrobes’ hallmark events, offering a full day of job search resources to hundreds of Marines embarking on their transition to civilian life.

NB Indy: What do you feel is so remarkable about Working Wardrobes?

Little: The impact the organization’s services have on their clients is truly incredible. I was able to attend one of Working Wardrobes’ Power Up For Success events at Camp Pendleton and it was eye- opening and inspiring to see the impact they’re making with clients directly.

NB Indy: What do you think the strong “suit” of this charity is.

Little: I am in awe and humbled by the extraordinary people that keep Working Wardrobes running. The positive energy of their leadership team and the dedication of their staff, volunteers and other board members is truly remarkable.

NB Indy: How do you see this charity expanding, or has it reached its limits of operation?

Little: As a board member, I am able to see firsthand the need the organization is experiencing. Every day we see in the news mass layoffs from organizations and frankly, Working Wardrobes will always need financial support to help service clients. They currently have three brick-and-mortar locations that provide additional income, so furthering that part of their business may increase income efforts and expand the work they’re doing. It is also important to note the difference a few meaningful corporate donations can make since they are a smaller nonprofit. If we’re going to continue serving clients who rely on Working Wardrobes to find gainful employment, they will need to continue to grow – which will provide more opportunities to further their budget and resources.

NB Indy: How does Working Wardrobes reach out to those in need?

Little: Working Wardrobes reaches out to people on military bases, college campuses, jails, probationary meetings, at job/ career resource fairs, through referrals from other service organizations, and of course online or walking into the Career Success Center in Santa Ana.

NB Indy: Is there a common demographic denominator?

Little: The only common denominator for Working Wardrobes clients is that they are people seeking gainful employment. These folks are actively reaching out for help to build stability for themselves and their families.

NB Indy: Anything else you wish add?

Little: If you’re interested in helping someone achieve gainful employment, donate your time, treasure and talent today. Don’t wait – I wish I hadn’t! Go to workingwardrobes.org to make a one-time or recurring donation, to sign up for volunteer opportunities, to get information on hosting a clothing or gift card drive, or sharing your expertise as a workshop facilitator or hiring Working Wardrobes clients.

For more information on Working Wardrobes, visit workingwardrobes.org.

The post Newport Beach Resident is a Tailor-Made Volunteer for Working Wardrobes appeared first on Newport Beach News.


Source: Newport Beach Independent

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