The last series of job interviews I had – which I’m lucky enough to say were for The Post – I wore my best suit with a combo of ties and shirts.

OK, truth be told, my “best suit” was my only suit and, as I’m sure you could guess, that’s still the case today. Even including wedding season and funerals, I really don’t see a need to own much formal wear, but that’s just me.

I’m fortunate enough to go business casual (emphasis on “casual”) pretty much every day, barring special events like galas, which I sometimes avoid like the plague anyway, or like when the governor gave his State of the State in Medina a couple years back.

As a man, I can get away with owning a limited amount of professional attire, but for women, that’s not always the case, given the amount of options, societal pressure and perceivable standards to remain trendy and be taken seriously. I’m not saying the pressure doesn’t exist for men; it’s just tenfold for women, especially for women attempting to enter or re-enter the workforce.

But not every woman has a full closet to choose from, according to Medina resident Kathy Warner. Her goal is to lift local women from all walks of life by providing appropriate attire for job interviews at no cost.

“I feel like women are held to different standards,” Warner, founder of First Impression, said. “Generally, men can put on a shirt, tie and jacket and unless he’s dressing from 100 years ago, he’s not judged on how he looks. Women are judged immediately on how they look. If a woman is not perfectly put together, they’re pretty much done.”

Founded in December 2015, First Impression is Warner’s niche nonprofit service aimed at aiding women with limited financial resources trying to get jobs.

Just last month, two women were provided with outfits and both received local job offers after successful interviews.

Warner said she wants to “break the cycle” when it comes to barriers preventing women from progressing in society and attaining economic stability. Eventually, she wants to turn First Impression into an organization helping women with a variety of professional consultation, like resumé writing and practice interviews.

She also didn’t rule out opening the service to men in the future, as well, but said, “The elephant is so huge, I can only take it on one bite at a time.”

“You don’t always look at Medina and think that we have poverty issues, but we do. We have homeless issues, we have battered women in shelters,” Warner said. “They want to get a job and they want to be successful, but if they’re a single mom and have to make a choice between getting an outfit for an interview or putting gas in their car, they’re going to choose gas every time.”

After completing a brief questionnaire, a new client will schedule a visit to First Impression and, with the help of a consultant, be fitted with new or nearly-new professional attire for an interview. The client then keeps the outfit, which can include accessories like shoes and jewelry.

There are plenty of women in this community who have a lot to offer, no doubt, but some don’t readily know where to turn to take that first step. This is a beacon worth turning toward, one providing such profound empowerment opportunities to women in our community.

Speaking on a recent client, Warner said, “I was able to discuss with her some of her fears with interviewing. You can look wonderful ... but most women are not very eager to toot their own horn and say what their strengths are, but we can list our weaknesses all day long. I got to know a little about her strengths and was able to encourage her.”

Currently, no other Medina County social service organization offers this unique and valuable service. All apparel come from tax-deductible donations.

The Medina County District Library recently became a drop-off partner this past week. Donors can bring their new or gently-used women’s business and business-casual clothing and accessories during regular hours.

First Impression is also seeking a new facility, hopefully between 1,000-2,000 square feet, as it is quickly outgrowing its current 257 S. Court St. space and reeling in a high volume of clothing donations. First Impression consultants are often going to visit clients at their residences.

“We can hardly turn around in that space,” Warner said. “I do all the paperwork out of my home at this point. We need to be able to unload it all, organize it and inventory it.”

Ladies interested in the services of First Impression can contact Warner at 330-227-6053, or visit Firstimpressionmedina.org or its Facebook page.

Thank you, our loyal readers

For the second time during my short tenure with The Post Newspapers, and fifth in our company’s history, our publication earned the top honor in the industry of free community newspapers.

To say I am proud of our team would be a complete understatement.

As I’m sure you saw on the cover and will read in Publisher Bruce Trogdon’s notebook this week, our management staff and I traveled to San Diego, Calif. last week for the annual Association of Free Community Papers conference and best of the best awards. We earned first place in General Excellence, in addition to a slew of other individual honors.

Thank you, our loyal readers and committed local business advertisers, for your thirst for real, ultra-local news and your partnership in helping make The Post the best in America yet again. We make that distinction on our flag every week for a darn good reason.

While we are excited and celebratory, we are looking ahead to the future. We will continue to innovate our products and deliver the same consistency of integrity we have for over 40 years to better serve you, the community, for decades to come.

Contact me

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and will gladly accept news tips at kmcmanus@thepostnewspapers.com.

Make it a great week, Medina.

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