Dress for Success annual gala celebrates 23 years

Organization empowers women across Long Island


We’ve all heard the saying, “Dress for the job that you want.” Dress for Success Brookhaven has taken this motto to heart, in addition to providing the sleeves (and the rest of the ensemble) one might wear it on. For 23 years, Dress for Success Brookhaven has served women in the community who have lost their jobs, survived abuse, or simply faced challenges, like so many have in recent years, by providing moral and professional support, a sense of sisterhood, a second (or first) chance for success, and the necessary tools, skills, and resources needed to secure and maintain employment, and to do so in style.

On Wednesday, Sept. 28, Dress for Success celebrated their more than two decades of serving the community while looking forward to what the future holds, at their annual gala held at Land’s End in Sayville.

Each year, hundreds of women come through the doors of this comprehensive organization. However, they would not be able to offer these life-changing services without the support of the Town of Brookhaven, as well as their donors. There are many ways in which sponsors used this fundraiser to help the worthwhile cause, including purchasing tickets to attend the fun-filled and inspiring evening, donating an auction item for the event, or by coming on board as an official event sponsor. Their contributions will directly support the programs that Dress for Success provides to women across Long Island.

“I think of the pandemic and everything that people have gone through, and that we’re finally coming out of it, because we haven’t had an event like this since 2019, so we’re looking at it as a celebration,” said Sharon Boyd, the executive director of Dress for Success Brookhaven.

While large galas were put on hold for the duration of the pandemic’s height, the organization made sure to find innovative ways to safely continue their outreach to the area’s women at that difficult juncture, where many women were more isolated than ever. Dress for Success never stopped being there for professional and personal support. While Boyd remained in the office, she had to figure out creative ways to continue being of service in this unprecedented time.

“First, I would ask them their preference and their sizes, and this and that, and then I would FaceTime them in the boutique and select clothing for them, and then I would deliver downstairs curbside,” Boyd said.

During the pandemic, Dress for Success also continued to facilitate their job readiness programs through Zoom, which has inspired them to continue more of an in-person and online hybrid curriculum, to be as inclusive and accessible to as many women as possible, who may not have transportation to get to the physical location for support.

“So, our big goal and our big announcement will be that we are going to take it on the road and get a mobile career center,” she explained. “That will be our next plan.”

Boyd explained that each one of their clients has a mentor, in addition to all the sartorial assistance given to the women. In addition to mentorships and the job program, there is the Dress for Success centerpiece, the Chic Boutique, which is at Brookhaven Town Hall and evokes a high-end personal shopping experience, which is very different from what one would experience sifting through racks at a thrift shop, for instance.

“We prepare the ladies for their interviews, and once they get their job, they’re able to come back for the clothing,” she added. “It’s really head-to-toe [including] accessories, shoes, handbags, whatever it is that they need for their upcoming job.”

Dress for Success is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the developmental tools and skills to assist them in thriving in a competitive 21st-century workforce. Established in 1999 in tandem with the Town of Brookhaven, the Division of Women’s Services, and more than 50 volunteers, Dress for Success Brookhaven has been instrumental in aiding more than 6,500 women—many of whom are single mothers and at or below the poverty line—in reaching their objective of becoming self-sufficient and economically independent.

The 2022 Dress for Success annual gala’s distinguished honorees includes the following: the Impact Award to Capital One, their biggest sponsor; Humanitarian Award to president Larry Unger, of The National Mah-Jongg League; and the Corporate Citizens Award went to Suffolk County Women’s Business Enterprise Coalition.

For more information about Dress for Success please call 631-451-9127 or visit dressforsuccess.org/brookhaven.


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