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Friday, July 17, 2009

Non-Profit Extends Services to Offer Affordable, Professional Attire to the Unemployed

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 5:33 PM

When Kathy Miner started her apparel and image consulting non-profit 14 years ago, she catered to low-income people looking for jobs. The non-profit, A Miner Miracle, provided them with free consultations on wardrobe and hair, as well as free new outfits and hairstyles. Over the years, Miner -- a former corporate dresser and designer -- has helped hundreds of disadvantaged people to look professional and acquire jobs.
But as of last month, as a reponse to the economic downturn, Miner (above) extended her services have been extended to encompass anyone who is unemployed. (FYI: even those with jobs can find amazing deals in Miner's store, A Miner Miracle Shop, which supports the non-profit and is located at 899 Mission St.).

Just earlier today, Miner and her team were re-outfitting Nancy Cook, a 60-year-old unemployed woman from El Cerrito. For just $100, a smiling Cook was provided with a new Larry Levine suit (which normally would cost her more than $400) a couple of tops, a scarf, and a cardigan as CBS News and the SF Weekly documented the occasion and asked questions. 

Cook, it turns out, is a repeat client. Nearly a decade ago, she had been referred to Miner by

 the California Department of Rehabilitation, from which Cook (right and below) was receiving assistance for a brain injury she sustained in a car accident when she was 16. Cook had gone through the windshield and been in a coma for nearly a week. When she awoke, she processed information a little differently than everybody else. That made getting jobs tough, and not having the right clothing made it even tougher.

"I don't know how to dress me," she said, looking over at Miner with admiration. "She does."

After her first makeover appointment with Miner back in 1998, Cook secured a job answering phone calls for a crisis hotline. She worked for nearly seven years answering calls, until she got laid off two years ago. Today, she was back in the store to revamp her look and prepare for future interviews. (She's still working on obtaining those, she says).
Meanwhile, Miner will be working on getting the word out about her new program for the unemployed, which provides clothing for people at prices 70 to 95 percent below retail. Miner travels frequently to New York to buy the clothes, which show up on her racks new and in season. She carries many designer brands, from Calvin Klein to Via Spiga to Ann Taylor. (Miner has secured all the Ann Taylor samples from around the country). 

Everything in the store is sold at a deep discount, and the money goes back to helping the disadvantaged and unemployed prepare for interviews. "You are shopping for yourself," says Miner, her kind blue eyes shining, "and you are also shopping for someone else."

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Ashley Harrell


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