L to R) K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers President & CEO Lisa Gurwitch; Stacy Brungardt; Kamileon’s Kloset Professional Development, Founder and CEO Kamila Brown Washington; and Regal Lager Vice President & CFO Luanne Whiting-Lager.
Stacy was a mother by age 16 and grandmother by 30; she had an 8th grade education, a drug habit and was in an abusive relationship for 20 years. At age 40, she had no hope left, “I was ready for God to show me something positive in this life, or take me home.” A backpack giveaway for her grandkids brought her to the Cumberland Community Church, and what would be the beginning of her new life.
At K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers we hear many amazing stories from community partners about clients turning their lives around and becoming successful. But recently, we visited Kamileon’s Kloset Professional Development, Inc. in Smyrna, GA, and met a truly inspiring woman, former client Stacy Brungardt who has overcome incredible adversity and is now helping others do the same. Kamileon’s Kloset Professional Development, Inc. prepares disadvantaged men and women as they seek employment and improvement in their lives, and K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers provides new work and career apparel for their clients.
“Kamileon’s Kloset has helped Stacy and so many others,” said the founder and CEO, Kamila Brown Washington. “Seventy-six percent of clients from our program receive job offers and 78% retain employment after one year. The donated new clothes inspire hope and enhance dignity through a greatly improved personal presentation. For the client, it becomes all about you; you get to select the clothes you like and the volunteers make sure that your choices present you in the best possible way.”
The charity has men’s and women’s showrooms where clients are provided with professional attire, and workshops for image makeovers and life coaching. The program increases the employment potential of a client, while also affirming the dignity of each individual. To state it simply: the mission of Kamileon’s Kloset is to take the holistic approach towards transforming lives.
After participating in the Kamileon’s Kloset Professional Development program and realizing her potential, Stacy formed a cleaning company, hiring other women trying to change their lives. “This program taught me that I had a knack for helping others transition out of generational poverty,” said Brungardt. She completed her G.E.D. and continued on to college, and now has a master’s degree.
Today, Stacy is a Program Director and Community Development Coordinator at a local social service agency, The Collective at Cumberland. The Collective helps clients reduce dependence on handouts and increase access to services, and provides training, education and counseling. The program also works with the local Cobb County drug courts to help others turn their lives around.
“I was truly moved by Stacy’s personal and professional journey,” said K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers President & CEO Lisa Gurwitch. “It was inspiring to see how she seized opportunities for growth and for giving back to the community, and how our support of Kamileon’s Kloset played a role.”
Luanne Whiting-Lager of the juvenile product company Regal Lager, Inc. was honored at the K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers Women of Inspiration on June 7, 2016 in New York City. As part of Luanne’s preparation for the event, she toured Kamileon’s Kloset and met with Stacy and Kamila. “Stacy’s experience taught her that it takes hard work to make changes in your own world, and you must apply yourself to that goal in order to succeed,” said Whiting-Lager. “The Kamileon’s Kloset Professional Development program gives clients the opportunity to strive for confidence. It’s a luxury to have a choice of new clothing items and training. It’s an immeasurable benefit when you are facing so many hardships.”
“Before Kamileon’s Kloset, my clothes were sweatpants, shorts and casualwear,” said Brungardt. “The program gave me a variety of clothes that said to me, ‘I’m just as good as someone else, and I can do this.’ To have a wide selection and be able to make my own choices is dignity personified! The donated new clothes from K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers and the training I’ve received are really perpetual gifts, because they help make it possible for the next generations of my family to have a better chance at success.”
You can listen to Luanne Whiting Lager’s luncheon remarks about Stacy and her visit to Kamileon’s Kloset at https://youtu.be/O0GpbJHgKiQ.