Emily Currie ’14: Changing Lives with a Change of Clothes
Inspired by a civic engagement course, adult student Emily Currie has started Pearls & Heels for Careers, an organization dedicated to helping homeless women dress professionally for job interviews.
Emily knows the challenges these women face, and she knows how important it is for them to find jobs. More than 20 years ago, she lived for about six months at the Women’s Shelter in Charlotte.
“If women don’t have a decent outfit, how are they going to find a decent job?” she asks. “This is something small, but it can make a big impact. Once you get a job, you can get an apartment and a car. This is something that can really change a person’s life.”
Judy Harvey, the engaged learning and teaching specialist with Guilford’s Center for Principled Problem Solving, teaches the course that inspired Emily.
“Civic engagement is an area that a number of colleges and universities are exploring and trying to support,” Judy says. “Higher education has a responsibility to help students think about what it takes to make a healthy democracy.”
The class attracts two types of students, according to Judy. Those like Emily already have strong opinions about community needs. “Other students don’t know how to be involved, but they’re looking for their niche,” Judy says. “They’re inspired by the people like Emily.”
Pearls & Heels is seeking donations of new or gently used clothes, and volunteers to interview women and put together outfits. If you want to help, contact Emily at email@example.com or 336-457-6211.
“What would you wear to a job interview? That is exactly the type of clothing we are looking for,” Emily says. “Your professional apparel could help another woman enter or return to the workplace.”
Pearls & Heels needs:
• Coordinated, contemporary, interview-appropriate skirt and pant suits
• Blazers and jackets
• Professional shoes (brown, black or navy)
• Professional handbags and briefcases
• Coats/jackets for all seasons
• Make-up and cosmetics
• Pantyhose and knee highs
• Basic professional accessories (including scarves and belts)
• Unopened skin and hair care products
Emily’s experience assisting the homeless includes volunteering with the Women’s Support Group at Greensboro Urban Ministry. She also has worked with homeless women through Divine Word Fellowship Church, the ministry of her husband, Eric. She started a charity herself, Hannah’s Ministry, about 16 years ago in Charlotte.
Hannah’s Ministry sponsors families to receive full Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and, when possible, Christmas gifts. Last year it sponsored three families for Thanksgiving and one family for Christmas through the Salvation Army. It gave wrapped gifts to needy families through the Greensboro Freecycle Network during the Christmas season.
While staying at a shelter herself, Emily learned that homeless people are not a lost cause. “The other women were women from every walk of life,” she says. “They wanted to find jobs, but were just down on their luck.”
The dedication of the shelter’s social worker and case manager continues to be a source of inspiration. “Somebody helped me, so my heart goes out to others.”