Workplace Wardrobes: Ellen’s Closet Readies Students for New Careers
February 2009, Volume 4, Number 2
The word is out on Mott Community College’s main campus about Ellen’s Closet: It’s the place to go shopping if you’re an MCC student in the market for a great-looking, professional outfit – that won’t cost a penny.
Housed in the MCC Business Division’s McKay Cooperative Education Center in the Curtice-Mott Building, Ellen’s Closet offers a wide variety of gently used clothing, suitable for job interviews or the first weeks of work before a paycheck comes in. Giving students that extra boost of confidence and professionalism as they approach the workforce is a great reward for all who are a part of this growing service.
Ellen’s Closet reopened in September 2008 after a three-month summer hiatus. Thanks to the enthusiasm of students Kenna Roberts and Francine Metzger, the Closet sports a user-friendly atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door. Joining the student staff this winter is Renee Metzger-Freel, who brings with her a degree in multimedia and is currently working on a degree in web design. Touches of window dressing here and there enliven the space inside, while appropriate displays flaunt the Closet’s collection of separates and ensembles. As word gets around, Ellen’s Closet continues to experience an increase in student activity.
Named for Ellen Howe, Ellen’s Closet has a remarkable history. Helen McKay, a teacher at Mott Community College in the 1950s, encouraged a returning Korean War veteran and older student named Ellen Cook to continue her education. Ellen went on to finish her associate’s degree at MCC and continued her education until she had completed her Ph.D. Ellen Cook Howe remained active at MCC and served on the college’s board of trustees for 12 years. Actually, Ellen initiated the idea for McKay Cooperative Education Center in the Curtice-Mott Building as a tribute to her teacher. Following Ellen Howe’s death in 2001, Ellen’s Closet was opened in the McKay Center. Ellen Howe’s wardrobe was the first donation to Ellen’s Closet.
Since that time, Ellen’s Closet has moved to CM-2135, where more room is available to meet the growing needs of MCC students. Support from the Foundation for Mott Community College under the leadership of Foundation President Lennetta Coney, and the MCC Business Division, keep the doors open and the floors clean. Donations from the community of men’s and women’s garments replenish the Closet with attire.
Currently, Ellen’s Closet stocks a wide selection of blouses, skirts, slacks, and suits in a variety of colors and sizes. Closet staff members are also developing a men’s collection. While all donations are cheerfully accepted, it is challenging to balance the stock. The Closet often ends up with too many of one style or size while not enough of another. For example, donations during one month might be mostly women’s dresses, size 6, even though inventory is running low on men’s suits. Ellen’s Closet will continue to let potential donors know what the greatest needs are. Right now, most of the requests are for women’s clothes, ranging in sizes from 12-18, and there is a great need for plus-size clothing.
It’s nice to find one suit or outfit for a student, but any functional wardrobe needs a coordinating plan. Color mixes and pattern matches stretch choices from a few garments to the illusion of plenty. This year’s theme focuses on combination and interchangeability. Toward that end, future newsletters and press releases will announce what pieces of clothing are most needed by Ellen’s Closet for a more complimentary, interchangeable wardrobe. Ellen’s Closet gratefully accepts all donations, but the following pieces of clothing are especially needed: men’s suits, trousers, business shirts, still-in-the-package new socks, and ties, as well as women’s accessories, winter hats, still-in-the-package new stockings, and plus-size women’s clothing. Closet employees request that all garments are cleaned and delivered in the plastic.
Ellen’s Closet has extended hours for Winter 2009 term, open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Tuesdays from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Business Professors Bettie Goodman (810-232-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Phyllis Watts (810-232-7802 or Phyllis.Watts@mcc.edu).
Content and photos for this issue of Innovation Showcase were provided by Mott Community College.