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Silversmith lends her time, talent to help job seekers

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TOWNSEND — Hunting for a job is hard work. For women who do not own the right clothing and accessories it can be even harder.

Dress for Success, an international organization, is there to give these women the clothes they need to put their best foot forward. Helen Yetman-Bellows, owner of Squirrel-Eze, an artisan’s store in Townsend, is stepping in with a jewelry line for the program.

A television show alerted the local silversmith to the charity. A chance encounter soon after led her to a local connection. “I ran into this woman in a class I was taking. She told me to contact them. I was absolutely thrilled,” she said.

After learning more about the program, she decided to support the organization. “I was talking to the girls in Worcester. It’s mostly a volunteer program. The passion coming out — I just wanted to get a flag and wave it,” she said.

It is a good match for her and for the business she owns with her husband Jim Bellows. “It helps people from central Mass,” she said. “Someone’s going to go off and have a better life for it.” The program serves job-ready women referred by other social service agencies. The clients receive clothing for interviews and after they secure a job, they are given a week’s wardrobe and other job-retention assistance.

Clothing and accessories are needed. Yetman-Bellows saw a need she could fill. “I wanted to do things with my year-end stuff,” she said. Scarves and other items have gone to homeless shelters in the past.

She went even further and designed an understated necklace for local job-seekers served by Dress for Success. The necklace, available with silver or gold-filled beads, rests at the collarbone and is adjustable from 16 to 18 inches. “They don’t need to wear crystal and bling,” she said of working women wearing her classic design.

Yetman-Bellows will be donating “dozens and dozens” of the necklace to the Worcester branch. That is not the end of her involvement though.

“They need funds as well as tangible items,” she said. She is donating 10 percent of the profits from sales of the necklace line to the charity. In addition to the business-suitable gold or silver beads, she sells a version with colored beads. The jewelry is available at the store, online at www.squirreleze.com and at jewelry shows.

“A lot of businesses can do what I do,” Yetman-Bellows said. “I’d like to see other individuals set up this program; it’s not hard. Left over goods can be donated and it’s tax deductible,” she said.

Squirrel-Eze is located in the Evans building on Townsend Common. It is open Thursday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After Thanksgiving the store will also open Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closing time might be a little later if needed, she said.

Yetman-Bellows sees a connection between good business and her philanthropy. What’s good for business is good for the charity. The more people shop in her store, the more she can donate.

“I think if you reach outside of yourself and help out, it just makes your whole life,” she said.