Organization empowers women to achieve economic independence

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Achieving financial success is something a lot of people strive for but for some it doesn’t come as easy.

One organization works to empower women worldwide to achieve economic independence.

That group of people also works here locally in Wichita to make a difference.

“To look professional in the workplace speaks volumes,” said Faith Shellman, an event associate at the Kansas Leadership Center.

“The wonderful people that come through here, the wonderful staff that I get to work with, the different things that I get to learn, I think it’s wonderful working here,” Shellman said.

But Shellman also says she’s a single parent who, for a long time, didn’t have the stable job she has now.

Through the Wichita Workforce Center, Shellman was referred to Dress for Success.

“At dress for success our mission is to empower women by providing them with development tools, a network of support and professional attire so that they can thrive in work and in life,” said Portia Portugal, the executive director for Dress for Success in Wichita.

The organization provides women professional clothing donated from both stores and individuals but it’s much more than that.

They work to break the cycle of poverty by providing women with training for their careers, work-life balance and networking.

“When one woman feels confident she feels powerful [enough] to speak up for herself in her personal life and her professional life, with her family and friends,” Portugal said. “So, really just that piece of empowering women and helping them feel confident is what’s always been near and dear to my heart.”

Empowerment is exactly what Shellman says she’s gained from the experience.

“I definitely feel empowered,” Shellman said. “I feel happy, I feel elated, I feel excited. I definitely feel like I can tackle that much more toward my dreams, my goals and my ambitions.”

One day, she says that feeling can be passed on.

“Once you get up that ladder, yeah definitely, you reach back and you offer a hand to those in need who want to be in the same place,” Shellman said.

Dress for Success has more than 140 affiliates in more than 20 countries, but it’s existed in Wichita for 16 years now.

For more information on the organization, click here.

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