DES MOINES, Iowa — Clothes have a way of making people feel good, and it is what attracts people to shop at a local charity closet. The clothes customers walk away with just scratch the surface of the Men on the Move program’s mission.
It’s a fraction of the size of a department store, but it’s service and customer satisfaction could put box stores to shame. From shoes to suits, you can pretty much find it all at the Men on the Move closet along 7th Street in Des Moines. The man behind it is always dressed to the nines.
“I’ve always had a passion for fashion,” laughs Dwight Jackson. Jackson serves as the community and business relationship specialist for the Evelyn K. Davis Center. His help with the launch of the closet in 2015 was personal. “I started out by taking things out of my closet, but I clearly realized that I needed much more than the few suits I could donate.”
With the help of donations from the community, he knows a nice suit can help build confidence, especially for important moments like a job interview. The closet is tailored to help guys like Garry Reineke who are struggling to find a job and can’t afford new clothes.
“I don`t want to spend the rest of my life where I’m at,” Reineke says. He is on the hunt for a job that could turn his life around. The perfect shirt and tie combo could be the catalyst. “There’s something to the phrase ‘the clothes make the man,’ and [it] doesn’t`t hurt that my girlfriend likes it,” he laughs.
Shopping here doesn’t cost customers anything. All items are free for the taking. Over the last four years, more than 1,200 men benefited from the closet. In 2018, the closet’s partner, the Evelyn K. Davis Center, put roughly $40 million back into the community through people it has helped find employment.
“When guys come in, you can see on their face they are reluctant, but when they put the clothes on and walk out of here, they are kind of strutting with their hand in their pocket,” Jackson says.
It’s the sense of swagger and confidence he’s helping to build in others that keeps the closet and his heart full.
“You can say something about a person. You can do something for a person, but they will never forget how you made them feel. So we make them feel like they are someone worth taking a chance on,” says Jackson.
The Evelyn K. Davis Center is hosting a career fair on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Shopping at and donating to the Men on the Move closet is set up by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call the center at 515-697-7700.