Suited for success: Naperville charity outfits jail inmates for job interviews, court

  • DuPage County jail detainee Gregory Fischer looks through some of the clothes that Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success donated for detainees to wear when they are released, have a job interview or go to court.

      DuPage County jail detainee Gregory Fischer looks through some of the clothes that Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success donated for detainees to wear when they are released, have a job interview or go to court. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Bill Denwood of Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success announces that the group is donating 400 pieces of dress and casual men's clothing to create a clothing closet in the DuPage County jail. Behind Denwood are detainees, from left, Sean Falcone and Gregory Fischer and DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick.

      Bill Denwood of Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success announces that the group is donating 400 pieces of dress and casual men's clothing to create a clothing closet in the DuPage County jail. Behind Denwood are detainees, from left, Sean Falcone and Gregory Fischer and DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick announces that Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success is donating 400 pieces of dress and casual men's clothing to assist detainees when they are released. Detainees Sean Falcone, left, and Gregory Fischer modeled some of the items.

      DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick announces that Naperville-based nonprofit Suits for Success is donating 400 pieces of dress and casual men's clothing to assist detainees when they are released. Detainees Sean Falcone, left, and Gregory Fischer modeled some of the items. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
Posted8/21/2020 5:30 AM

Clothes make the man, says an ancient Latin proverb made famous by Mark Twain.

Now men in the DuPage County jail can get made over through the donation of more than 400 shirts, pants and suits by Suits for Success, a Naperville-based charity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

They can wear the clothing to court or to job interviews and even keep them once out of lockup.

"We are trying to do our small part in getting them jobs. We want an equal playing field for (anyone) that is interviewing for a job," said Bill Denwood of Naperville, co-founder of Suits for Success.

"These clothes, when they walk in, they have confidence in what they do."

Detainee Sean Falcone attested to that Wednesday while sporting a gray suit and pastel lavender dress shirt.

"Leaving jail, it is hard to get in the mindset of being successful," he said.

Falcone has been in the jail since December, when he was arrested on a burglary charge. He has pleaded guilty and been admitted to the drug treatment court program, so he will be released soon. If he completes the program, he can withdraw his plea and the burglary case will be dismissed.

During his time locked up, Falcone graduated from a janitorial/sanitation services course offered at the jail.

Suits for Success started in 2016, when Denwood was a volunteer at Stateville Correctional Center. When the prison needed street clothes, Denwood sought donations from Steve Hirmer, owner of Signature Cleaners in Naperville.

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The organization has since donated more than 53,000 items to prisons in Illinois and Wisconsin. New and gently used clothing is donated mostly by people who live in the Western suburbs, Denwood said, via churches, charities and businesses. The organization also has worked with dry-cleaning and laundry businesses to serve as drop-off points.

The clothes aren't just for job interviews and court. Inmates can receive an outfit when they are released if the clothing they wore into jail isn't suitable -- such as if they were arrested in shorts and a T-shirt in July and get out in the middle of winter. Or if their clothes were damaged or just plain ratty.

Denwood said the group plans to also donate clothing for the jail's female detainees.

Sheriff James Mendrick said the clothing closet is just one of several jail programs aimed at giving inmates the tools to stay on the right side of the law. Classes in welding, computer skills, janitorial work and more are conducted by JUST of DuPage.

"This is yet another arrow in that quiver," Mendrick said.

For more information on Suits for Success, or to arrange a donation, visit suitsforsuccess.net.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Des Plaines mourns ex-chief

The city of Des Plaines, and its law enforcement community in particular, is mourning the passing this week of former police Chief Robert Sturlini.

Former Des Plaines Police Chief Robert Sturlini died this week. He was 82.
Former Des Plaines Police Chief Robert Sturlini died this week. He was 82. - Daily Herald File Photo

Sturlini served six years as the department's top cop, the culmination of a 34-year career that included the task of assembling a special unit to provide security for court appearances by notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy. The team he formed went on to become Des Plaines' first SWAT unit.

Sturlini, 82, of Rolling Meadows died Sunday surrounded by his family, according to his obituary.

After serving four years in the Marine Corps, Sturlini joined the Des Plaines Police Department in 1967 and worked his way up through the ranks. He was a newly appointed lieutenant when he was assigned to create a special detail to protect Gacy.

As chief, Sturlini hired a full-time social worker to assist victims of domestic violence, brought the department its first police dog, created the department's first bicycle patrol and oversaw technology upgrades.

"I feel very good that the Des Plaines Police Department is in good hands," Sturlini said in a 2000 Daily Herald interview shortly before his retirement.

The police department echoed those works this week in a tribute to Sturlini.

"May you rest in peace Chief," a post on the department's Facebook page reads. "We have it from here."

Friends and family will take part in a graveside service today in Arlington Heights. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Leukemia Research Foundation at allbloodcancers.org.

Coroner cheats death?

DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen saved himself a bit of work last week.

DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen may have saved himself some work last week by saving a life. Jorgensen was dining out when he noticed a man choking on food. He quickly deployed the Heimlich maneuver to rescue the man.
DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen may have saved himself some work last week by saving a life. Jorgensen was dining out when he noticed a man choking on food. He quickly deployed the Heimlich maneuver to rescue the man. - Daily Herald File Photo, 2016

According to DuPage County Circuit Court Clerk Chris Kachiroubas, Jorgensen -- a surgeon -- responded "in a New York second" to a man in distress Aug. 15 at a restaurant.

Jorgensen and Kachiroubas were at an informal monthly political lunch when a man began to flail about and stand up.

The coroner grabbed him, sat him down and performed the Heimlich maneuver several times, dislodging a piece of meat from the man's throat.

"The Doctor Richard Jorgensen may have cheated the Coroner Richard Jorgensen," Kachiroubas said at a county board committee meeting Tuesday.

"That was pretty crazy," Jorgensen told us.

He was in medical school about the time the Heimlich maneuver became well-known and learned it there. He has performed it several times since, he said. As a med student, he taught it to his parents -- and shortly thereafter, his father used it to save his mother.

"Everyone should know the Heimlich," he said.

Why put the guy in a chair? Because he was big and tall. "I was concerned if he passed out," Jorgensen said.

"I was just blessed to be in the right place at the right time," he added.

And out of curiosity, he looked up how many people died in DuPage County last year from choking on food: seven.

• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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