Life Connected

‘One Stitch at a Time': Nonprofit Organization Provides Business Attire to Low-Income Individuals

For some, it doesn't matter what mall, what clothing or specialty store you go into ... nothing ever fits. It's a challenge that many people with disabilities face every single day. But one "magical place" is turning that challenge and frustration into a "perfect fit" for free.

"Clothes the Deal" in Downey is a nonprofit organization that provides business attire to low-income individuals. The goal is to empower them to "interview with dignity and confidence" as they undergo the job application process and eventually secure gainful employment.

Suzzy Canny is the head seamstress at Clothes the Deal.

"There's so much magic that takes place inside this little closet that they have," Canny said.

One of their clients, Hector Ochoa, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition more commonly known as brittle bones.

Ochoa has broken or fractured 120 bones throughout his life but still "my medical diagnosis hasn't been the challenge or barrier for me," he said.

Instead, Ochoa says being able to find a suit in a department store is impossible.

It's challenges like these that Clothes the Deal is ready to take on.

"I always say 'we're dressing you from the inside out,'" CTD President Patrice Jinso-Springer said.

Jinso-Springer heads up the nonprofit that has spent the last two decades primarily using its donated clothing to dress women going from welfare to work. Now, they customize some of that donated clothing for people like Carlos Benavides, who is a tetraplegic.

"It's just got to fit everything ... including their inner spirit and inner being," Canny said.

The process starts with a referral. Then comes a personalized walk through of the "magic closet."

Canny measures, pins the fabric and fires up her sewing machine -- relying on her expertise, intuition and innovation.

"It makes you feel good - in and out," Benavides said.

Clothes the Deal establishes a connection with clothing and how its power can turn one's challenges into confidences - one stitch and one fit at a time.

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