MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Little Black Dress Initiative, sponsored by the Junior League of Morristown hoped to shed light on the invisible poverty that is within our community. In its second year, the initiative's goal is to raise awareness and funds to help lift the burden carried by the vulnerable in our community.
The Little Black Dress Initiative aims to show what the effects of poverty can have on a woman's confidence, opportunities and access to resources.
League members wore one black dress for five days to illustrate the effects poverty. They also wore a pin that said, “Ask Me About My Dress,” to spark conversation and spread awareness of the initiative and its objectives. Participants have the option of donating their worn black dress at the conclusion of the initiative to Dress for Success of Northern New Jersey.
LBDI participant, Jennifer Thackery, had this to say about her experience so far, “It is eye opening to realize how quickly I became self-conscience when my choices were constrained. And I only had my choice of clothing limited. Twenty-five percent of our neighbors are too income constrained to afford the basic costs of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation, according to the ALICE report. These families struggle each day to make difficult decisions as to where their income can be spent. Having conversations with people this week about these facts, I hope we all become more aware of the struggles that our co-workers, fellow students, and neighbors are faced with daily.”
The iniatiative took place during the week of November 13th, and representatives from Dress for Success Northern New Jersey, Homeless Solutions, the Interfaith Food Pantry and the United Way of Northern New Jersey addressed the League to educate and share what organizations are doing in the community.
Why is this campaign necessary?
● 10% of working age women in New Jersey are living below the poverty level
● In Morris County 44.5% of families spend more than 30% of their income on rental costs
● The fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Morris County is $1,288 a month. In order to afford this apartment, a household would need to earn over $51,000 per year. At the NJ minimum wage of $8.44 an hour - that is 116 hours per week, 52 weeks a year
● 14.9% of children in the State of New Jersey suffer from food insecurity
● 21% of students at Morristown High School qualify for free lunch, which means their household income is less than $15,171/ year. An additional 6% qualify for reduced lunch, which means they have House Hold Income of less than $21,590 per year.
For more information on the Junior League of Morristown & Little Black Dress Initiative visit https://www.jlmnj.org/?nd=little_black_dress