Westfield Washington Township partners with Janus Developmental Services for Dress to Impress program

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The Westfield Washington Township building serves as a drop-off location for the Janus Developmental Services Dress to Impress program. From left, Kara Critchlow, Becke Nauyokas, Carrie Cason and Danielle Carey Tolan. (Photo by Anna Skinner)

By Anna Skinner

An idea originally targeted to help one person has expanded into a closetful of clothes.

Kara Critchlow, an employment specialist at Janus Developmental Services, encountered an issue that arose rather quickly with one of Janus’s clients who was prepping for an interview. Normally, prior to a client participating in an interview, the organization has time to outfit them accordingly.

Janus Developmental Services stores the donated clothes and accessories for Dress to Impress in a closet. (Submitted photo)

“We had (an interview) come up quickly, and she’s (the client) like, ‘I don’t have anything to wear.’ She didn’t have anything, so I lent her my own clothes and thought this comes up quite a bit, actually, where we don’t have time to wait,” Critchlow said.

Westfield Washington Township Trustee Danielle Carey Tolan heard about Janus launching a Dress to Impress program and decided to step in.

“I heard about the program, and I said, ‘We have to be involved,’” Tolan said. “I reached out to (Janus) and said, ‘I heard this program was coming into fruition, can we sit down and talk and see how we can partner on this?’ From the ground running, we started throwing out ideas of who to talk to. It’s just a great way to serve our community.”

The township office, 1549 E. Greyhound Pass, serves as a drop-off location for Dress to Impress, and the program’s closet is already filling.

Janus Community Services Manager Becke Nauyokas said the township office and Janus are primary drop-off locations, but the organization wants to implement more soon.

“Once we met with Danielle, we started talking about inviting other trustees throughout the county to participate and having several drop-off sites and thinking, ‘Heck, if we can do that, it doesn’t have to be lending, (the clients) can keep it,’” Nauyokas said. “It’s just ballooning into this whole cool project.”

Everything from clothes, shoes, purses, belts, ties and accessories are accepted. Nauyokas said there has already been one success story with the program, which began last month.

“So far, there’s been a gentleman who had an interview and he had everything but the tie,” Nauyokas said. “He came in and was nervous and said, ‘I just wish I had a tie.’ So we went through what we already had donated and found a tie and went to YouTube to find out how to tie that tie. You could just see his confidence level rise. He went to his interview, he did great, he got the job and he’s already started working.”

Nauyokas said Janus also picks up items from those who may not be able to make it to the drop-off sites. Those interested can contact her at rnauyokas@janus-inc.org.

For more, visit janus-inc.org and westfieldwashingtontwp.us.

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