Dress for Success Greater Orlando to Empower More Women and Grow Community Through DeVos Family Donation

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - In 2015, Orlando native Victoria Brantley was in her final semester at Everest University in Tampa. She had an interview for a very competitive internship lined up at the time. There were 60 candidates vying for the position.

While surely motivated, as well as confident in her talent, she recognized that to make a great first impression on the hiring manager she needed to be a little more polished.

Some help on that couldn’t hurt, she told herself. That’s when she discovered a nonprofit called Dress for Success, located in 160 cities across the globe, including Orlando. Their mission, which is to empower women to achieve economic independence, sounded inspiring, and was one that aligned with her needs and goals.

Without much hesitation, she reached out, which proved to be one of the best decisions she has ever made. Brantley, through Dress for Success’ mentorship and professional wardrobe building, landed that internship. Now, just a few years later, she has a master’s degree and is thriving as a business executive.

“Just walking in, I was a nervous wreck because I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “It wasn’t like you were actually receiving a hand-me-down. It’s like a hand-me-up. So, you are getting that A1 service. You are getting the customer service. You’re not treated like someone that’s unemployed.”

Brantley now lives by Dress for Success’ slogan, which is ‘going places, going strong.’ So incredibly grateful for the mentorship she received as a client, she now is one of the mentors of the program. In addition to all her other current endeavors, Brantley is on the executive board at Dress for Success Greater Orlando, which has served on average between 800 and 1,000 women every year since inception in 2001 and was most recently given $10,000 by the DeVos family as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative.

The boutique, located on the campus of Orange Technical College in Winter Park, features everything a woman needs to dress the part for the workforce, including suits, shoes, belts, bags, and jewelry.

Renita Hunt, the executive director at Dress for Success Greater Orlando, was overjoyed when she heard about the DeVos family’s donation, which is going to help many more women hit the ground running.

“The community of Orlando is the only way we are surviving,” she said. “It’s tremendous. With the grant that we are receiving, over 250 ladies will be impacted with that money, and that’s going back to how much it would cost for us to get a suit in retail and the shoes.

“It’s about empowering women, growing the community of Orlando, and sustaining families. That’s what we do. When I said earlier, we help mamas – that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. When she has a job and she’s stable, we know by research that their kids are prospering in school. They go on to get higher education and thrive in life as well.”

Hunt and Brantley will be representing Dress for Success Greater Orlando at Sunday’s Orlando Magic game against the Washington Wizards at Amway Center, where they will be honored at center court.

A total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations as part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, which aims to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.

The late Rich DeVos, who bought the Magic in 1991, always called himself a chief cheerleader, emanating from the compassion he had for others. That mantra is now shared by his entire family, who now continue his legacy with the same philanthropic mindset.

“One thing my parents always taught us was giving back – working with communities and investing in organizations that help people,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said. “We all know there are a lot of great causes throughout this community, and we want to come alongside organizations that are doing the good work and support them so they can make a difference.”

NEXT UP:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter