Dig Baton Rouge

Fashionably Charitable

By Leslie D. Rose

In Louisiana, re-entry programs have quickly become necessary – a study done in 2012 lists the state as the prison capital of the United States, with women being one of its largest incarcerated groups. Because of this statistic, Connections for Life (CFL), a local women’s re-entry program, was founded and exists through fundraising and community support.

On April 25, CFL will team with the Manship School of Mass Communication to present a fashionable spin on its annual fundraiser, with Fashion for a Cause.

Senior mass communication major Margaret Price, who is serving as the event director for the fashion show, said she was thrilled to learn that CFL was going to be her group’s benefiting agency this semester.

Fashion for a Cause
April 25 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Woman’s Club, Inc. 259 East Blvd
Tickets: $20 at the door or online www.fashionforacauseBR.eventbrite.com

“With almost four years of Manship class work and projects under our belts, my group members and I have had the opportunity to apply what we have learned in the classroom in order to make a successful awareness campaign for a worthy cause,” Price said. “The upcoming fundraiser event we have planned is the final portion of the awareness campaign we have been working on all semester.”

Each year graduating seniors at the Manship School are required to work on public relations campaigns for area nonprofit organizations. So far, students have managed the agency’s social media accounts, distributed a fact sheet about Louisiana incarceration rates, maintained a blog, made an informational video and developed awareness surveys that that were distributed in order for CFL to learn more about its target audiences.

CFL, which was founded in 2000, provides a twelve-month re-entry and transitional housing program for women coming from prison, treatment facilities, battered women’s shelters and other referral agencies. The agency serves about 25 women each year coming from facilities from across the state.

Executive Director Karen Stagg said that with all the work that CFL does, its most important function is its empowerment of women to become strong, independent members of their community.

“Connections is very excited about the opportunity to have a fun evening that will help us raise much needed funding for our continued work of helping women learn to help themselves,” Stagg said.

CFL has traditionally hosted a golf tournament for its annual fundraiser. Stagg said she is excited about the fashion show because it is an event that the women in the program can participate in since many of them do not play golf. Some of the program’s participants will walk the runway at Fashion for a Cause.

Along with modeling, the show will also feature testimonial stories like that of program graduates who have gotten back on their feet with the help of CFL, including one woman who is now a Dean’s List senior at the University of New Orleans studying theology, with plans to complete a master’s program at LSU. Another woman, who will be present at the fashion show, is now a CFL employee and in her second semester at BRCC.

“We want the ladies to have an opportunity to know our community and we would not be a program without the community,” Stagg said. “Before I was involved with CFL, I didn’t always understand the needs of the women we serve and so this is an opportunity for people to not only support, but to see the impact this program has.”

With the event’s main feature, models will showcase clothing from CFL’s thrift store and Swap Boutique, a regular CFL supporter. There will also be a silent auction. Upon the completion of the fashion show, guests will be encouraged to remain seated for an informational video about CFL.

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