Dress to Succeed celebrates partnership with Ohio State Penitentiary

By Bruce Walton



Dress to Succeed Ministry, beginning this week, takes a big step forward to bring clothes to soon-to-be released prisoners at the Ohio State Penitentiary.

The ministry has been dedicated to providing donated clothes, shoes and other accessories for Youngstowners, especially for people returning from prison, since 2010.

The ministry and Elder Rose Carter, founder and director, on Monday celebrated its showroom branch grand opening at the warehouse of the prison grounds on Coitsville-Hubbard Road.

“Wow, seven years and I never dreamed that it would be this big,” Carter said to the crowd. “And when you walk into that room, you’re going to say, ‘Wow’.”

Carter; Lola Simmons, executive director of the Home for Good Re-entry-Resource-Referral Center; and Bryant Palmer, Ohio State Penitentiary deputy warden of special services; cut the ribbon to the new showroom. In the crowd were people invited to the opening, including Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, and Judge Shirley Christian of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Lepore-Hagan said this partnership is inspiring. “It may be viewed as a small step, but it can pan out into a larger benefit to help people that all of us want to rehabilitate and re-enter into our society,” she said.

The outlet has racks of pants, ties, shirts and sweaters arranged like a department store.

Other items such as underwear, socks, belts and toiletries also are available on the shelves.

Palmer approached Carter in March with the idea to provide clothes for inmates before they are released to society. Carter said there was a growing disconnect when people are released. They were not finding their way to her ministry, so she felt this was perfect solution.

Carter spent the last three months with her female ministry staff, as well as two volunteer inmates, to fix the space for the showroom. The space in the warehouse was just a storage room for the penitentiary’s maintenance staff, filled with scraps, spare parts, wires and junk. Seeing the showroom now, Palmer said it has exceeded all of his expectations.

In addition to partnering with the ministry, he also said it feels as though he is gaining the support of the Youngstown community.

“That’s just huge to not only have an organization but to have an entire city backing a program,” Palmer said.

“I think it’s just great to have the mayor, the chamber of commerce and the judge out to support this program.”