Suits for Success helping parolees get back on their feet
(Editor’s note: William Denwood is a participant of Disciple Bible Outreach in Illinois, a joint ministry of the Illinois Great Rivers and Northern Illinois conferences, aimed at organizing Disciple Bible studies in the state’s prison. Suits for Success is an outgrowth of DBOI’s efforts.)
By Melissa Hackler
DECATUR -- Getting out of prison can be a jarring experience, especially when it comes to finding employment. One organization is helping parolees across the state find employment by providing them with professional clothing.
What started as William Denwood trying to establish bible study in prisons, turned in to something much larger.
“Slowly we expanded and expanded, and we are now in all 33 prisons,” says Denwood the founder and creator of Suits for Success. “They have 45,000 inmates, and what we are trying to do with the clothes is give them suitable clothes for interviewing purposes.”
Suits for Success takes professional clothing to all the prisons in Illinois, in hopes to help parolees find jobs and stay out of prison.
“It's a small niche that we are doing,” added William. “But, it does have an impact in getting these men and women jobs."
All the clothing is donated, and so is the time of seven dry cleaners across the state.
"You can donate and drop off your old clothes, and we will clean and press them up," says Kevin Buskirk owner of Country Squire Cleaners in Champaign.
While there are seven dry cleaners in total that donate their services to Suits for Success, Kevin’s business is the only one in central Illinois,
"If this is a way that they might be able to get a job, stay out of prison and be good citizens for the community; then I think that’s a good thing," added Kevin.
While the program is helpful for parolees, William says it is also helpful to the economy.
"This makes sense economically if you stop and think about it,”’ says William. “It makes good sense for the parolee, because they get a job and they get back in community. In turn they start paying taxes and taking from the state coffers. It makes sense for the prisons, because it reduces the population. We can save tax payers $15 million per year by getting one percent of the inmates or parolees not going back in to prison."
With just five volunteers taking the clothing to all 33 prisons in the state; the organization has donated over 11,000 garments to parolees across Illinois.
"It's gives them their pride back, and enables them to get a job, added William. “It's one thing to go to an interview in a sweatshirt, and it is quite another to go there in a suit or some sport coat and dress slacks.”
Reducing the recidivism of former criminals and changing their lives; one piece of clothing at a time.
Suits for Success is always looking for more volunteers to help take clothes to prisons across the state, as well as dry cleaners that are willing to donate their services. For more information on how to get involved you get visit Suits for Success’ website at: https://suitsforsuccess.net/.
(Reprinted with permission from an April 12 story that aired on WAND-TV, the NBC affiliate in Decatur, www.wandtv.com)