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Dress for Success helps women in the workforce

It's the first day of Women's History Month, and we're kicking off our coverage by highlighting a nonprofit that helps women reenter, or join, the workforce.

SCRANTON, Pa. — It had been a minute since LuAnn Swartz interviewed for a job.

She used to be a legal secretary but was out of work for a while due to medical issues.

"I just wanted to get back to work," she said.

There's so many things to think about before a job interview - most importantly, what to say, but also what to wear.

LuAnn knew just the place to go.

Dress for Success Lackawanna has been preparing women to reenter the workforce since 1999, both with professional clothing and professional know-how.

"We do one on one career coaching. We do mock interviews, resume writing, cover letter writing, anything they really need to prepare them for a job," said executive director Serena Howarth.

Little did Luann know when she stopped by as a client, the next time she returned would be as an employee. 

A job at Dress for Success Lackawanna opened up shortly after her visit. She applied and got it. 

"It's something that I really like to do. I like helping people, this is just the perfect place for me," LuAnn said.

The organization is located inside the Marketplace at Steamtown in Scranton. Luann lives in the city, so she didn't have to travel far. 

But the nonprofit serves six counties in our area - Wyoming, Susquehanna, Monroe, Pike, Lackawanna, and Wayne.

"And it's hard because women in these counties that may have a need for employment services don't know how to get to us. A lot of women have childcare or education issues that would prevent them from getting to us," Howarth said.

That's why the staff here is working to create a mobile unit, a traveling boutique of sorts.

"Like a large van or a large truck that we can put clothing in and maybe more fitting rooms that women can come in and try on clothes," Howarth said.

It's ideas like that one that inspire intern and University of Scranton senior Jaclyn Vincenti.

"This work is really, really, really fulfilling to me. Encouraging our clients to find work that they find fulfilling, and really showing them that they can get these jobs because of who they are."

That's a lesson program coordinator Jen Adams wants to pass on to her 16-year-old during this Women's History Month.

"My daughter is learning about opportunities that many years ago she wouldn't have. She comes here to help out once in a while, and she sees women running a nonprofit and working towards goals to service other women," Adams said.

In honor of Women's History Month, the nonprofit is hosting a campaign called "Women Making An Impact."

Every day, they'll highlight a different woman from our area who's making a difference. You can follow along here.

All of the women will then be honored at a special event at the end of the month at the Radisson Hotel in Scranton. For more details on the event and to buy tickets, click here.

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