On the evening of September 16, Lawrence-based nonprofit Uncommon Threads holds their annual Dress to Impress Gala—virtually, this year. Typically, the gala is an in-person event held at Salvatore’s in Lawrence that’s attracted around 300 people.
The Uncommon Threads team is working hard to put together a lively, interactive event reminiscent of a night out, that you can participate in from the safety of your own couch. Longtime Boston news reporters Susan Wornick and Cheryl Fiandaca will MC the event.
Uncommon Threads works to empower disadvantaged women by providing new clothes and one-on-one styling sessions. Here’s how it works: social workers sign up their clients who would be a good fit for Uncommon Thread’s services, whether they need a wardrobe for a new office job, a dress for a special occasion, or just a refresh on their everyday clothing. After filling out the detailed online form, the clients are placed on a list, and are then scheduled for a one-on-one appointment with one of Uncommon Thread’s volunteer stylists.
Since their expansion, the organization now has a boutique store for the general public, carrying gorgeous, designer clothing at often bargain prices. Some of the clothing is thrifted, and some is donated from local and national stores like SoleAmour, French Lessons, and Ecru. Profits from the store generate about a third of the organization’s funding.
“We’re trying to give it as much of an interactive and as much of a live feel as possible,” says Margie Rothschild, associate director at Uncommon Threads, of the virtual gala. The evening begins with a virtual red carpet: “We’re asking the attendees to take pictures of what they’re wearing, and then post them on social media so it looks like a red carpet,” says Rothschild. “It kinda sets the mood for the evening.” They’re also looking for a signature cocktail sponsor of the night, so guests can mix up their own drinks at home before the event. If your business is interested, head to uncommonthreads.org.
The event kicks off with a live musical performance by Jennie Wengrovius accompanied by Ian Giles, and then attendees will hear from two clients and premiere sponsor, Timberland. “Not only has [Timberland] been an incredible financial supporter, they also have this volunteer program where employees are encouraged to go out and do good work,” explains Rothschild. “The Timberland folks have come in and helped build the closet, they helped refurbish the boutique and do painting and build dressing rooms and all kinds of things.”
Attendees will also hear from the Uncommon Closet store manager Kelly Tortellano, plus Uncommon Threads’ executive director Susan Kanoff, who explains why the organization needs support now more than ever. “Given all the circumstances around COVID-19 things have been exacerbated and more challenging for women who are already economically disadvantaged,” says Rothschild. “Dealing with sick loved ones and children not in school—this is a perfect storm of challenges.”
The silent auction that would usually take place during the live gala will happen now through the night of the event, September 16. Launching today, the auction includes some incredible prizes, like jewelry, Chanel perfume, a Tiffany crystal bowl, home goods, shoes, gift certificates to local businesses, and even getaways to places like Wentworth by the Sea and a donated California property. All trips and certificates have long lead times, says Rothschild, so folks can save them for later if they don’t feel comfortable using them right away.
To access the auction, sign in to Bidding Owl here, then head to the silent auction. Place bids on your favorite items, or just hit the “Buy Now” button to snag what you’re after while supporting this local nonprofit.
“We elevate the process of taking care of people to another level,” says Rothschild on the work that Uncommon Threads does. Humans have basic, physiological needs like food, water, and shelter, but what often goes overlooked are more complicated, but still vital needs, like love, safety, and esteem. “[We work with] these women on an emotional and mental level that really takes their view of the world and their view of themselves to a different place and a better place,” says Rothschild.
“Having the clothes and the handbag and the shoes, those pieces really make you feel empowered,” she explains. It’s not just about clothes—it’s about helping women find a sense of self-esteem and belonging to fulfill their whole potential.
For more information and to support the cause, visit uncommonthreads.org.