Suits for Seniors has outfitted more than 500 high school students with tailored suits and leadership skills over the last couple of years, and now, the founder is bringing that mission to even more people in need in the community by offering a place for homeless men to get free, donated suits.
"Feel like they’re special when they walk in here and they’re not homeless and they’re not poor," said Tae Edmonds, founder of Suits for Seniors and a new community clothing center. "So they feel like they’re going to be a leader when they walk out this room.”
Edmonds started Suits for Seniors in April 2016 and has recently expanded the program to more school districts and to include girls.
“More confident about going into the workforce now that I have my own suit," said Shaniah Loriston, a graduate of Suits for Seniors.
“This is really my first suit to go out, go into the workforce, go to college, interviews, stuff like that," said Theresa Jean-Baptiste, another program graduate.
Edmonds wants others to feel the same confidence his high school program participants do when they put on their suit, so he decided to open up a community clothing center in Riviera Beach at the former Riviera Beach Maritime Academy off W 11th Street.
"I believe that first impressions are very important and how you carry yourself, the image you have can be the make or break in getting a job," he said.
Earlier this year, Edmonds gave a homeless man in downtown Delray Beach a new suit. He hopes to now do the same for more people looking to find a job, but can't afford to look the part.
“He kind of solidified that I needed to do it," Edmonds said.
He's opening up the community clothing center in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, he's looking for donations of suits and other accessories, such as belts, shirts or dress shoes, in good, clean condition. They can be dropped off between December 10 and December 31 at the former Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, now named the Judge Edward Rogers Complex, at 251 W 11th Street.
The former school is being converted into a community center, where people in need will be able to find services in addition to new the suits and resume and interview assistance that Edmonds plans to provide.
"Food pantry. We’re giving felons a place to work. We’re having summer programs," Edmonds said.
Edmonds' own Suits for Seniors graduates will also help work the community clothing center.