Mary Gates wears a smile on her face you can hear. “Sometimes all a person needs is a smile to help them get through their day. I can do that,” she says warmly.
Since 2006, she has been helping Detroit’s unemployed men and women dress for success from the inside, out. Through Jackets for Jobs, Inc., a nonprofit that provides low-income individuals with business appropriate attire for career success, Gates prepares her clients for job interviews by helping them look the part and talk the talk.
Retired from a career in customer service with AT&T, when she first heard about the organization through a former co-worker, she immediately felt motivated to contribute.
Gates assists about 120 job applicants every month. Her clients are mostly men, though sometimes she helps out with special events and with the women’s department. “I do attire. I measure them for their suit, shirt, pants, etc… and spend about 20-30 minutes per client,” Gates explains. “Once they get the suit on it’s like a light goes on. They’re empowered.”
Since its founding in 2000, Jackets for Jobs has helped over 15,000 clients achieve their job seeking goals through the organization’s training program in the Detroit area. “It’s important to wear clothes that fit well and are clean,” says Gates. “I tell my clients that when they go on job interviews, even before they start asking questions, they notice their appearance.”
She volunteers every day for 2-3 hours and always tells her clients to stay positive. “I encourage my clients and tell them, ‘don’t give up, keep the faith’,” says Gates.
When she’s not helping out at Jackets for Jobs, Gates, who is a wife, mother and grandmother, loves to travel, cook (her specialty: peach cobbler) and bowl. “At one time, I was in five different leagues,” she explains.
From teaching men how to tie a tie to helping women build self-esteem, Mary Gates, today’s Daily Point of Light Award recipient, is at her best when helping others become the best they can be. “I don’t do it for recognition,” Gates explains. “I’m glad I can help.”