Non-profit group helps men dress for success

Linda Nunley picks out a suit from "Danny's Closet of Hope."
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It's a tough economy, with thousands of Hoosiers out of work and looking for a job. One local group is helping men find success in the job hunt.

It's called Danny's Closet of Hope. The idea was born out of one woman's vision and heartbreak after losing her son.

Since 2002, Linda Nunley has run St. Vincent Health's "STAR Program," launched to help those in need get significant training and life skills to find a job. Early on, Linda realized even after training, the men and women still needed to dress the part to land the job, but most couldn't afford the clothes.

Women were referred to "Dress for Success," a national non-profit that provides free professional wear to women in need. But Linda never had anywhere to send the men.

"I used to steal my husband's suits, his shirts and ties and put them in this little file cabinet and when 'Joe Blow' needed a tie and someone needed shoes, and we were able to outfit them and then I realized that I only had one size because I was taking them from my husband," she said.

Linda started asking friends, neighbors and people at her church for donations of professional wear for men.

"So Danny's Closet just kind of grew from a dream, from a desire and a vision the Lord had given me," she said.

But the name, Danny's Closet of Hope, comes from a real nightmare for the Nunley family - the death of their son, Danny.

"Danny was brutally murdered in 2002 at the age of 29, but he was a person who always liked giving back and helping people," Linda said.

There's no more file cabinet. Now, two large closets are filled wall-to-wall with suits, ties, shoes and belts, all donated from families and local businesses, helping men, like Courtney Jones, get back on their feet.

Rick Williams, also a graduate of the STAR Program, is volunteering to help Courtney and others find that perfect suit. He understands better than most the fight to find work. He's also currently unemployed.

"I really get so much out of helping the people who come through here. Literally, I see people who have gotten jobs where I think, 'Wow, kids who have never worn their first suit'," Williams said.

A former client of Danny's Closet provides free hair cuts. Owners of Fabric Care Center do home pick-up of donations and dry clean all of the clothes - to date, $40,000 worth of free dry cleaning.

Many of the men that are referred to Danny's Closet are homeless, so another way you can help the organization is with toiletries from a hotel. Anytime you check out of a hotel, grab the shampoo, conditioners, soap and donate them to Danny's Closet.

The organization has dressed 275 men so far this year. Jones is number 276.

"I feel great. I feel like I am dressed for success," he said.

With her late son's picture looking over them, Linda's only hope is they find success and happiness once they leave Danny's Closet.

"Even in the pain, there is purpose in pain, so Danny's name is still living, going strong, even though he's been gone for 10 years. It's a blessing," she said.

Danny's Closet of Hope is low on all items, especially larger sizes, Linda says. They also take donations of new socks, underwear and undershirts.

Danny's Closet of Hope website