In the Orange County community, the Working Wardrobes name has long been synonymous with high-quality, professional clothing for those facing barriers to employment. One-on-one styling in preparation for job interviews, delivered with the utmost dignity and respect, has been one of the organization’s signature services for over three decades. Kim Nguyen, Client Strategist at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, was initially drawn to Working Wardrobes by her self-described “passion for fashion.” When she learned her employer offers paid volunteer hours during the week, providing styling services to Working Wardrobes clients seemed like a natural fit.

Kim began volunteering as a personal shopper in August of 2022. Styling Working Wardrobes clients is a deeply rewarding, unique, and sometimes intimate experience. When a client enters the wardrobe department, they may be facing any number of hardships. Many are navigating a difficult transition to the next chapter of their lives. Some are in crisis; unsheltered and facing food insecurity. It is the role of the personal shopper to tactfully provide each client with a wardrobing experience that leaves them feeling empowered, confident, and worthy. For many clients, wardrobing is an emotional and healing experience – an opportunity to step out of their situations and back into themselves.

As Kim settled into her role as a personal shopper, she was surprised and delighted to learn that professional wardrobing is just the cherry on top of what a Working Wardrobes client experiences. As she discovered the holistic career-readiness services the organization provides to job seekers, she got curious about other ways she could lend her support. Motivated to live out her values through the organization, Kim became a founding member of the Jerri Rosen Legacy Fund Committee – a group of finance industry professionals committed to laying the groundwork for the future of Working Wardrobes.

The Jerri Rosen Legacy Fund, named after Working Wardrobe’s founder, is a collective of supporters who have committed to leaving after-life bequests to Working Wardrobes. Legacy commitments bring sustainability to the organization, ensuring that clients have access to one-on-one coaching, job training, resume assistance, networking, and the myriad other services Working Wardrobes provides for generations to come. The Committee plays a vital role in the development of the Legacy Fund, offering guidance to those interested in making a bequest and introducing prospective donors to the organization.

Working Wardrobes was founded in 1990 when Jerri Rosen wanted to make an impact on her community and asked her friends to help her. The result was the very first “Day of Self Esteem,” at which Jerri and her friends served 67 survivors of domestic violence.

In 2023, Kim Nguyen took the same approach. She joined forces with her fellow Committee members Vanessa Klass, (Esq. and Associate Wealth Strategist at BNY Mellon), Haley Gorman (Associate Attorney with Albrecht & Barney Law Corporation), and Nicholas Kmetz (Associate Attorney with Albrecht & Barney Law Corporation) to host a clothing drive and mixer at BNY Mellon’s Newport Beach office with the intent of introducing new people to the organization.

At the mixer, folks from a diverse range of industries gathered to donate clothing and learn from Chief Executive Officer Bonni Pomush about Working Wardrobes’ service to the community. Multiple carloads of clothing were donated, and attendees connected over shared values of employment, empowerment, and dignity.

Working Wardrobes was built on the ethos that everyone has the power to create a ripple effect of positive change in their community. Volunteers who have invested their passion in the organization have paved the way for over 120,000 jobseekers to receive life-changing career readiness services. Trailblazing changemakers like Kim, Vanessa, Haley, and Nicholas play a vital role in fulfilling the Working Wardrobes mission. Learn how you can use YOUR passion to better our community.

For volunteer opportunities at Working Wardrobes, head to our volunteer portal.