By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A professional image consultant and public relations professional, Rhonda Willingham says she noticed that most nonprofit organizations focused on women.
“There are few organizations that focus on men,” she says, “and I believe that if we got our men together, many of those organizations that exist for women would not need to exist.”
So, fourteen years ago, this Philadelphia native founded Menzfit.
“What we do is suit guys up for their job interviews, we give them a little career development, financial literacy training, and send them on their way,” Willingham explains. She says it helps the men gain the confidence and self-esteem that means they get a job and keep it.
“To see themselves in that mode, they get very excited,” says Willingham, a graduate of American University, in Washington, DC. She is proud of the fact that her nonprofit group boasts a 46-percent job retention rate.
Menzfit began in Washington, DC and expanded to Philadelphia seven years ago. Today, the group partners with 80 other organizations that help men.
“They can be ex-offender programs, they can be job-training programs, veterans’ organizations, tech programs, or they can just be lower-income,” notes Willingham, who spent several years working for the Clinton administration.
Menzfit accepts donations of business suits and accessories from individuals and organizations, as well as from retail and corporate sponsors. So far, the group has helped nearly 1,000 men in the Philadelphia area.
But Willingham says she is just getting started.
“I want to take this national, have a Menzfit in every city,” she says. “We all have a purpose here on Earth, and I think that helping people in this way is my passion. It’s my purpose.”
Menzfit is always in need of men’s accessories, such as ties, cufflinks, tie clips, belts, suspenders, and new socks. If you’d like to donate, go to menzfit.org.
Hear the extended interview with Rhonda Willingham in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 12:46)…
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