BETHEL, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — When America’s servicemen and women shed their uniform, it’s time for them to nail an interview and get a job.
One Connecticut nonprofit is on a mission to help.
“We call on the community to clean out their closet and we donate professional attire to veterans so they can interview for jobs,” said Air Force veteran Scott Sokolowski, who formed Save-A-Suit in 2009 in response to the recession.
“The unemployment rate for veterans was over 30 percent,” Sokolowski said. “For me it didn’t make any bit of sense for people to have sacrificed their lives and then come back and not get a job, not be employed.”
To date, the nonprofit organization has given away more than 2,000 suits in 37 states.
Its office in Bethel, Connecticut is set up like a shop with racks of clothing.
“When they walk through that door, no matter who it is, we treat them like the hero that they are or heroine and give them the respect they deserve and make them really feel like they’re shopping in a real suit store only everything is free,” executive director Jessica Ewud said.
She estimates some of the suits would sell for thousands of dollars.
“Mike D’Antoni is the former coach of the New York Knicks and he is a very tall gentleman, and was so generous and kind to donate,” Ewud said. “We had a gentleman who was so tall and we were worried that we weren’t going to find a suit to fit him and then it was like, ‘Oh wait, we do!'”
For his day job, Sokolowski recruits talent for a big insurance company and knows the importance of a first impression.
He said a sharp suit is the least we can do to help our veterans.
“They leave with a smile, they leave with a little bit of confidence,” Sokolowski said. “If we can give them some confidence, give them a suit and point them in the right direction, hopefully we can effect change.”
“When they first put on a suit, many for the first time in their life, they really just light up,” Ewud said. “They kind of have this renewed confidence about them.”
For more information on how you can help, visit savesuit.org.