Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Success Story: Feeling on Top of the World


It may have began with a suit and a scarf, but for Starla Ramm, the impact Dress for Success Quad Cities had on her life went much deeper than that first interview outfit.

“I started out being afraid of life,” the Bettendorf resident explained. “I was hardened by what life has thrown at me, but Dress for Success gave me the courage to hope.”

The mother of two had gone through a lot in life to beat her down. “Anything that could have happened, did,” she said. And it made her scared — Ramm was shy and not comfortable talking. Admittedly, she had a rough exterior.

But that all changed when, unemployed and preparing for a job interview, she walked into the downtown Davenport boutique at Dress for Success Quad Cities. She was referred by a community social worker. She was nervous, but her fears were quickly put aside when she met her personal shoppers.

“Their attitude was, ‘You’re gonna do it,’’’ Ramm remembered. “When I left the suiting, I felt like I’d really make something of myself.”

That confidence paid off — Ramm landed that job the next day. She went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social and criminal justice and a master’s degree in organizational management. Today, she’s a home health aid and direct support professional.

The new clothes were just the beginning.

After Ramm’s suiting, she attended and graduated from the Going Places Network. This program allows unemployed and underemployed women like Ramm to gain professional skills, accelerate their job search, and build their confidence. She is also a part of the Professional Women’s Group — a network of employed women served by Dress for Success. PWG provides support, practical information and inspiration for these women to excel in work and life. The best gift Ramm received was the direction to plan and dream.

“Without Dress for Success, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said. “It gave me direction and helped guide me through a plan.”

And this direction led her to dream and give back. Today, Ramm is a volunteer at Dress for Success Quad Cities. In the past, she never would have been comfortable speaking in public. Today, she commands the attention of a room of volunteers and brings tears to their eyes with her story of success.

Ramm also serves as a mentor to another woman who is in a similar place as she was just a few years ago.

“I want other women to have the same hope I was given,” she said. “I want them to feel on top of the world, too.”

For more information, visit online at www.dressforsuccess.org.