First Impressions Last a Lifetime

Some say first impressions have a sneaky way of leaving lasting impressions on new faces. This thought can apply to budding friendships, strangers on the street and even potential employers. When it comes to meeting a potential employer at a job interview, it certainly helps to dress and look the part of a successful employee. Whether we like it or not, our modern society deems presentability as a strength in the workplace.

For those less fortunate, clothing is certainly not of the utmost priority; survival is.​ According to Miami-Dade County’s Homeless Trust Census conducted in 2018, the homeless population in Miami-Dade county is 3,526. This number reflects those who are able to find occasional shelter and those who are unsheltered.

How has our community combatted this challenge? Camillus House, a notable local charity, offers the homeless a place of refuge. The organization provides emergency housing, transitional housing and permanent housing to homeless all over the city. Emergency housing is just as the name describes; it’s an immediate solution, a place to rest your head at night. That’s not all they do. In addition, Camillus House offers healthcare, treatment, breakfast several times a week, daily lunch, the ability to take a shower and obtain a fresh set of clothes, as well as career placement.

Photo courtesy of Camillus House

I had to find a way to get involved on a deeper level. This meant learning more about the organization firsthand. Recently, I had the privilege of touring Camillus House’s incredible facility. I was in awe of the men and women living on the streets of Downtown Miami that this organization had touched. These individuals had the opportunity each and every day of making one line, which in turn, allowed them access to food, a shower and their choice of an outfit for the day provided to them by the Camillus “store.” These gifts are not exclusive to regular attendees. No, they are for anyone.

The store at Camillus House is run by volunteers and outfitted by the many donations sent in from the community. Every corner of the women’s department was filled with ample clothing in most sizes, shoes and accessories. However, the men’s department did not seem to be so fruitful. It was clear there was a need for more men’s goods. More specifically, professional occasion wear for men. Suits and ties.

You see, Camillus House provides career counseling and placement for participating individuals. Camillus House too believes in first impressions and the importance of attending an initial job interview with a fresh face. That being said, menswear is very much needed at Camillus House, and we were prepared to answer that call.

And so, the Dress for Success donation drive was born. To do this, Be Love partnered with Belen Jesuit Preparatory School upperclassman, Luis Gonzalez. Luis is now a senior and gearing up for the second round of professional menswear collections. In February, he set up various collections bins throughout the community. From Little Havana to Key Biscayne, the collection focused on collecting men’s dress pants, oxfords, suits, ties and dress shoes. Our joint mission was clear: we wanted the homeless to have clothing options in order to feel confident and complete a successful job interview.

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

The second collection will take place from September 23rd through October 3rd.

The following menswear items are in great need:

  • Suits
  • Slacks
  • Dress shirts
  • Sports Jackets
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Shoes

Photo courtesy of the Be Love Movement

Bins will be placed at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, ​500 SW 127th Ave, Miami, FL 33184​ as well as Value Store It Self Storage facility located at 7500 NW 25th Street, suite 120. For more information regarding donations, please contact Cristina at For more information on Camillus House, please visit

Words from Cristina Alfonso

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s