Dress for Success clothing drive helps inmates in Berrien County

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - Those who spend time in the criminal justice system oftentimes get out and have a hard time fitting in.

“Some of them have no idea how to get a job, how to look, how to talk, how to not chew gum, if you will, so we start from scratch,” Mosaic Christian Community Association community liaison Madge Porterfield said.

On Thursday, Dress for Success clothing drive was held at the Berrien County Public Defender’s Office in St. Joseph, Michigan. It is a way for inmates or former inmates in Berrien County to access ready-to-wear business clothing in case they don’t have any.

“What we’re trying to do is to make sure that when people go from jail back into the community, they can have some type of access to clothes so they can have for interview or for jobs, just to be a little more professional,” Chief Public Defender Chris Renna said.

After all the donations are collected, the clothes will be distributed by the Sharp Foundation and Mosaic, both organizations that strive to help unite and strengthen the community.

“Sometimes, people don’t have those resources. That is what we are here for, as a resource to help them transition out back into the community in a positive way,” Sharp Foundation CEO Gwenn Swanigan said.

“Many times they have been shoved around their entire life whether it be by friends, peers, families and told they’re no good, and we want them to know what they are today is not what they were yesterday,” Porterfield said.

And what inmates were yesterday does not determine who they are tomorrow, Renna said.

“This is really all about redemption. We all agree with personal responsibilities and accountability for people in the court system, but it’s really important to have this kind of redemption quality,” Renna said.

“They get out and pay their debt, they can get out and do it in a way that ensures they will be more successful,” Renna said.

If you want to donate your business clothing, all you have to do is drop off your donations at Mosaic in Benton Harbor or contact the Sharp Foundation by calling 269-888-1551.