Dress to im­press

Craig El­liott of Char­lot­te­town re­ceived a suit through the Moores Cana­dian Suit Drive, a pro­gram that pro­vides gen­tly worn suits and pro­fes­sional cloth­ing to those in need

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/COMMUNITY -

Craig El­liott of Char­lot­te­town feels the stigma bar­ri­ers of men­tal ill­ness break down when he puts on his fancy suit.

When wear­ing his suit that he re­ceived for free through the Moores Cana­dian Suit Drive, he feels con­fi­dent and in re­turn peo­ple look at him dif­fer­ently.

“I feel like a nor­mal per­son and over time the bar­ri­ers break down, not only with other peo­ple but your­self,” said El­liott, “I think a lot of peo­ple are mis­judged when they don’t wear a suit and they end up marginal­ized from so­ci­ety.”

El­liot has been a mem­ber of the Fitzroy Cen­tre Club­house in Char­lot­te­town for al­most 11 years, which is the P.E.I. di­vi­sion for the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion.

The Fitzroy Cen­tre is the P.E.I. re­cip­i­ent of the Moores Cana­dian Suit Drive and has been a part of the pro­gram for the past three years. To re­ceive this pro­fes­sional cloth­ing, one has to be a mem­ber of the cen­tre.

This suit drive runs be­tween June 22 and July 31 and pro­vides gen­tly worn suits and pro­fes­sional cloth­ing for men and women. All the suits are do­nated by the gen­eral public to Moores, which then gives them to the club­house.

Jill MacFar­lane, who is a men­tal health worker with the Fitzroy Cen­tre Club­house, said af­ter their mem­bers have gone through the items, they let the other club­houses in Summerside and Al­ber­ton along with other non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions go through the do­nated pro­fes­sional cloth­ing.

“We give pri­or­ity at first to our mem­bers, but what is left over we want to kind of spread the wealth, so to speak.” said MacFar­lane.

So far this year about five mem­bers have se­lected cloth­ing from the drive and they ex­pect to see more come through near the end of the month, said MacFar­lane.

In the past two years, ap­prox­i­mately 100 mem­bers have picked out items from the drive.

MacFar­lane said some­times peo­ple will stay away from things they nor­mally would at­tend but don’t be­cause they are be­ing held back by their wardrobe.

“A nice suit can set you back quite a lot of money,” said MacFar­lane. “When you have on a nice dress-shirt, dress pants...it kind of changes your at­ti­tude to­wards your­self.”

El­liot no­tices he doesn’t fid­get or put his foot in his mouth when he has his suit on, he said.

“Own­ing a suit and dress­ing well is only a part of the big pic­ture, but it is a part when it comes to per­son with a men­tal ill­ness hav­ing a re­cov­ery.”

Though El­liot re­ceived this suit a cou­ple of years ago through the pro­gram, he has re­ceived other dress clothes through the drive.

El­liot said a suit like the one he has would cost up­wards of $200 and since own­ing this suit, he feels he be­comes the per­son he dresses up as.

“You be­come how you dress,” said El­liott.

“And then later on, if you are con­fi­dent enough to work, that is even bet­ter be­cause then you can find a nice job and af­ford to buy your own suits.”

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Craig El­liott of Char­lot­te­town wears a suit he re­ceived through the Moores Cana­dian Suit Drive a cou­ple of years ago. When El­liott puts the suit on, he feels con­fi­dent in him­self.

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