The Bear Essentials (By Anna Dykhoff)

Looking for professional attire for interviews, presentations, or internships? The Bear Essentials Closet, located in the Rondileau Student Union (RSU) Room 102, provides free, accessible clothing for all sizes, styles, and professional needs!

Katie Muldoon (she/her), Graduate Assistant in the internship office, and Carrie Kulick-Clark (she/her), President of the Bridgewater Alumni Association (BAA) both operate the Bear Essentials closet with a sincere focus on uplifting students and ensuring that all members of the BSU community have access to clothing that makes them feel comfortable and confident.

When asked about the benefits of getting clothing from Bear Essentials for professional occasions, Kulick-Clark explained, “You come in, you look professional, you’re perceived as a professional. And you feel good. It makes you more confident, without having the stress and worry of getting access to those clothes and spending more money.”

The Bear Essentials Closet is an entirely donation-based program, receiving clothing from alumni, students, staff, and even extended friends and family of those groups. They accept donations year-round, but much of the clothing is accumulated during donation drives held in the fall and spring. During these drives the closet receives more than just clothing – collecting shoes, pocketbooks, hangers, racks, accessories, and steamers.

Generosity from the Bridgewater community has allowed this program to thrive, and Muldoon and Kulick-Clark hope that this generosity continues so that the Bear Essentials program can become a staple within the school.

Muldoon expressed this hope, stating, “Eventually we’re not going to be in our positions, but we want this to be able to continue for years: the sorting of donations, keeping the closet clean and organized. That’s definitely one of our biggest lifetime goals, just maintaining it and making it a Bear Tradition.”

The most recent Dress for Success event, hosted by Bear Essentials in the RSU Commuter Lounge, was a lively celebration of success in the workplace, displaying professional wear for various styles, sizing, and needs. Pop-up dressing rooms donated by Program Council, disability-accessible clothing racks, and helpers ready to aid students in finding outfits that they love all worked in tandem to create a supportive, caring environment. Staff from the Bear Essentials closet were even helping students match colors and put on ties, ensuring that they looked their best and left the event with confidence.

Throughout the lounge, questions of “this is really free?” and “we get to keep everything?” could be heard as students were shocked at the Bear Essentials’ policy on free clothing for all, regardless of financial situation. Muldoon and Kulick-Clark are hopeful for another Dress for Success event in the spring and are open to collaborations with other organizations on campus!

If you’re interested in visiting the Bear Essentials Closet for any professional clothing needs, their hours are 9AM-5PM Monday through Friday, and questions can be directed to internships@bridgew.edu.

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