Fifteen years ago, Arcadia-based business man Randall Mills had the opportunity to participate in a program called Collaboration for a New Century. This program paired nonprofits with people in the business world so that they could work together and help nonprofits become more successful. It was from this partnership that The Phoenix Suit Project was born.
Working in the business sector, Mills understands the connection between wearing suits and the power they can yield. He believes how a person is dressed can bolster his or her confidence and directly affect how that person feels on the inside.
Mills wanted to help and asked other business people to donate their suits to be given to nonprofits that provide professional men’s clothing to those who are looking to rejoin the workforce.
“A lot of times those suits have sentimental value and they don’t want to part with them,” Mills said. He realized that if he assured people that the suits would go directly to those who could benefit from them and not end up on a rack to be resold or sent to the landfill, they would be on board.
“I did not want to start a nonprofit and fight for the same money, so I started this charitable foundation to run alongside the nonprofits,” Mills said.
The Phoenix Suit Project collects the suits and gives them directly to a nonprofit that has the shared goal of giving deserving recipients a “hand up, not a hand out,” Mills said. “It’s more than a suit; it’s the first step to a second chance.”
The Phoenix Suit Project was launched in 2017 and has held three fundraising events so far. This past November was their largest fundraiser to date, where 475 suits were collected and donated to local nonprofit St. Joseph the Worker, whose objective is to “help remove barriers by providing the resources necessary to gain and maintain employment.”
St. Joseph works one-on-one with clients who are seeking employment. They help prepare resumes or applications and aid with the job search, which is where The Phoenix Suit Project comes into play – providing clients with clothing to help them make the best first impression at an interview. St. Joseph then offers employment support once a job is obtained.
During the 2018-19 fiscal year, St. Joseph helped over 3,800 clients obtain gainful employment.
For more: thephoenixsuitproject.org.