New free clothing depot will help Butler County issue: Getting people back to work

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Butler County agencies and organizations are trying to find employment for job seekers and better equip them with clothing for work and job interviews to ease unemployment that skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the last year, the unemployment rate in Ohio ranged from 4.1 percent to a record 16.8 percent in May 2020, according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The unemployment rate in December 2020, the latest statistics available, was 5.7 percent.

The agency received 47,786 new claims for unemployment benefits last week, and before the pandemic, the agency was getting a few thousand claims each week.

Job seekers who have become unemployed or have reduced hours may qualify for funding for training, education or certification programs, according to OhioMeansJobs. Short and long-term training programs can lead to jobs in healthcare, manufacturing, technology and other in demand industries.

A virtual career fair will be held March 9 for job seekers and employers from healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and distribution. The event is being hosted by the BCW Workforce, operated by the Workforce Investment Board of Butler, Clermont, and Warren counties, along with OhioMeansJobs. More information will be announced soon.

For those who need attire assistance for an interview or job requirement, a Butler County organization is preparing to open a free clothing depot this spring.

Job Threads is expected to open in April on the second floor of the Kingswell building, 1124 Central Ave., Middletown. The program is modeled after Dress For Success, a Cincinnati organization, but Job Threads also will cater to males, said Tim Rettig, owner of Staffanation, a Fairfield-based employment agency.

After Gov. Mike DeWine closed restaurants to in-person dining last year in hopes of reducing the spread of the coronavirus, many food service employees sought different careers, Rettig said. That created “a huge spike” in job applicants at Staffanation, he said.

He hopes Job Threads provides people an opportunity to “make a better life, find a better job.”

The correct clothing, he said, allows job candidates to “put their best foot forward” and improves their self-esteem that may land them the job.

Bill Morrison, director of Butler County Job and Family Services, said the proper clothing for an interview can be “a key element” to getting a job. He called not having interview attire “a significant problem” for job seekers.

Those who want assistance from Job Threads must make an appointment and have a reference, said Jeri Lewis, who works for Staffanation and is organizing the clothing depot. She started accepting clothing donations last week and said she’s “overwhelmed” by the generosity of the community.

Because more people are working remotely during the pandemic they’re donating some of their work clothes. People are wanting to help the unemployed in some way and donating clothes “is an avenue to do that,” Lewis said.

For those who have been unemployed for several months, they can get depressed, she said. A gently used outfit for a job interview may provide the incentive to find employment, according to Lewis.

“It’s not easy having to put it all together,” she said. “It can start with an outfit, from the outside in. This can change their life. It’s about the foundation. They have to be stable if they want to achieve their dreams.”

Lewis also has been contacted by local barbers and hairdressers who have volunteered their services to those preparing for a job interview.

“This is all awesome,” she said. “It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”


  • Butler County: 513-785-6500
  • Warren County: 513-513-261-1130
  • Clermont County: 513-943-3000

About the Author