Rev. Beth Tipton and the Wesley Foundation have helped many UVA Wise students over the years with various needs, but one young woman from Northern Virginia stands out. The freshman arrived on campus with just a few pieces of clothing. It wasn’t long before the student was in need of more clothes, but lacked the money to buy the items.
Tipton and members of her organization used an emergency fund to take the student shopping, and the simple act of caring transformed the student’s life in many ways. The lack of proper clothing for job interviews, classroom presentation, or other events can break an opportunity, she said. Proper wardrobes can foster opportunities, she added.
The idea of Smiddy’s Closet emerged, and UVA Wise officially opened its new career clothing center on campus on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
UVA Wise celebrated the grand opening of Smiddy’s Closet with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The closet, a business clothing resource for UVA Wise students, is located at the Wesley Foundation, across the street from the College.
The Wesley Foundation partnered with the College’s Department of Career Discovery and Planning to plan and implement Smiddy’s Closet. Cash-strapped students who need professional attire for job interviews, formal presentations and jobs may have one complete outfit per academic year. The clothes are theirs to keep.
Chancellor Donna Henry addressed a crowd that included students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the community. Henry said UVA Wise is a place where people of all backgrounds have the ability to pursue and fulfill their dreams.
“Smiddy’s Closet is yet another example of this commitment. We want to ensure that our students and our graduates are ready to enter the workforce,” Henry said. “We want to ensure that we break down barriers for entry. No student should ever decline an interview due to a lack of business attire. No student should ever decline an interview because they feel unequipped or unprepared to present his or her best self to a prospective employer. Smiddy’s Closet is about empowerment. It is about easing doubt. It is about instilling confidence. I am excited about the transformational potential of this resource for students.”
Tipton, the co-founder of Smiddy’s Closet ,said the Wesley Foundation is pleased to work with the College’s Office of Career Discovery and Planning on the project.
“Smiddy’s Closet is transforming lives,” Tipton said.
Smiddy’s Closet collected its initial inventory through a clothing drive. Individuals and businesses donated gently used or new clothes, as well as monetary contributions. Interested parties may make donations by contacting Neva Bryan, director of Career Discovery and Planning, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Beth Tipton at email@example.com.