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Medina nonprofit matches shoes, job seekers

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120718firstimpression01RF.jpg BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE A rack of fashionable shoes were on sale at First Impression on Friday during its grand opening. Most shoes are $12 in the store, located at 140 W. Washington St., below Miss Mollys Tea Room.

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MEDINA — First Impression Inc. has found a new home, but its mission remains the same.

The nonprofit originally opened at 775 W. Smith Road in August 2016. Last July 1, it was absorbed by Jobs for Ohio Graduates. The following month, it moved to its new location at 140 W. Washington St., which more than doubled its footprint.

President Kathy Warner wanted a bigger location and to be closer to Public Square. She was able to check both boxes with its move to the basement of Miss Molly’s Tea Room. First Impressions celebrated its grand opening Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

First Impression was created to provide economically challenged or displaced women with business-appropriate clothing, tools and skills to help make a positive first impression at job interviews.

Warner said when she dissolved her nonprofit, it needed to go to another nonprofit with a similar mission. She said she now technically works for Jobs for Ohio Graduates.

First Impression now has 3,700 square feet of retail space, in addition to an office and sorting/inventory room. The former location was 1,200 square feet.

Warner said it was “absolutely” a good move joining forces with Jobs for Ohio Graduates.

“It gives us leverage to make a difference in the community,” she said. “We weren’t sure we were going to be able to stay open without some (financial) backing. This brings stability and keeps us accountable.”

Most of the women Jobs for Ohio Graduates work with are between 18 and 24. The agency, located around the corner at 257 S. Court St., gets its clients ready for work opportunities with interview techniques, resumes and other tools.

Then, they visit First Impression for “clothing, accessories, the whole nine yards,” Warner said.

The women are also eligible for a hairstyle free of charge at VCS Salon & Spa.

Jobs for Ohio Graduates isn’t the only organization with which First Impression works. It also takes in clients from Employing Medina County.

Warner said her organization works exclusively with women right now. It will soon be open to men, as well, in January or February.

Jobs for Ohio Graduates will soon open an office in Summit County, Executive Director Chris Canova said.

First Impression will open a retail space there, as well, Warner said.

“I met Kathy (Warner) two years ago and I was immediately impressed,” Canova said. “We are building upon the success that she built months ago.”

Warner said she is so grateful for the community’s support. All the clothing, shoes and handbags are donated to the all-volunteer organization.

“The community has been so supportive of everything we’ve done over the years,” she said.

The store’s phone number is (330) 227-6053 and email address is info@firstimpressionmedina.org.

First Impression received a proclamation from Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and a certificate of accommodation from Ohio Secretary of the State Jon Husted.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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