Mary McCaig

I love my job.  What woman wouldn’t love to buy clothing for a living!I work at Porterville Developmental Center (PDC) as the Clothing Center Manager.  We are a residential facility with approximately 410 clients.  My job is to manage the Clothing Center.  We provide approximately 95% of all client clothing.  The other 5% the clients purchase themselves or receive from their family.   I maintain an inventory of clothing to meet all of our clients’ needs year round.  If you need everyday clothing, a suit for court, or a formal dress for our Christmas Ball, we are here to assist you.  Who doesn’t appreciate the smile on the face of someone who tries on the perfect outfit and lovesit?  It is so satisfying to be able to share that moment with them.

We have a General Treatment and Secure Treatment Area at PDC.  We maintain a Fashion Center in both areas. Our job in the Fashion Center begins with a request for clothing.  We maintain size records for all of our clients.  These records also record any special needs that the client might have i.e. no buttons, Velcro shoes only, inseam lengths, color preference etc.  Once we have accessed the information on file we direct the client to the appropriate size and assist them in choosing their clothing.  Once the choice is made, then it’s on to the changing rooms where they try them on to see how they fit and if they like how they look in the outfit.  If they like it we then note if we need to make any alterations before they change back into their clothes.  Once we have the clothing back it’s listed on their clothing card sent to be altered if needed and then marked with their name and residence number. Last year we averaged over 2,200 items sent out each month.   

I also make the decision on the clothing that is stocked and distributed through the Fashion Center.  I work with vendors in person, through email, and over the phone.  I am always looking for clothing that is stylish but will stand up to our industrial laundry.  I must consider the material content.  I do not generally purchase anything that contains rayon, linen, beads, sequens or needs to be dry cleaned, with the exception of our Christmas Ball clothing.  I am always on the lookout for items that make life easier.  One of our greatest finds was the “Zipit” tie.  This tie has a zipper embedded in the tie so that to put it on you unzip the tie and pull it open.  Put the tie on over your head, then zip it back up and you’re done.  This gives the clients such a feeling of empowerment to know that they can do it themselves. 

My career began with the state began in 1981 as a Telephone Operator.  I then promoted to Supervising Telephone Operator.  Then in December of 1997 I began my current job as Clothing Center Manager.

My job has had its challenges: dealing with a shrinking budget, rising clothing costs, pay cuts, and employee issues from time to time, but I can truly say that I love coming to work. 

Another great bonus that I added to my career was joining ACSS.  I began as a member attending meetings to become better informed.  I then began serving as an officer in the Chapter.  My first office was as Secretary, and now I have a seat on the statewide Board of Directors for Chapter 509.  ACSS allowed me the ability to become more involved in my career statewide.  I began attending statewide Board of Directors meetings as an audience member.  ACSS gave me the opportunity to network with my peers in my department as well as other departments. I have developed lifelong friendships with other ACSS members that I would not have met if I had not been a member. I learned to appreciate the fact that, as Managers, Supervisors and Confidentials, we are all in the same fight, and we must be proactive for our careers.  We are not covered my contracts and must fight for our rights and raises.  Without ACSS and our lobbying efforts, the legislature would have continued to impose more damages on our salaries and benefits since we do not have the protection of contracts,as they have tried to balance the state budget.

The fight is not over.  There are still many issues to be solved, but I know that ACSS has it’s radar up and is looking out for all Managers, Supervisors, and Confidentials.  As soon as they see an issue they are mobilizing to fight it, usually stopping it before the member is even aware of the issue.  There is work that we all must do to make our voices hear we cannot sit back and “Let someone else do it”.  It’s up to us to get involved in our careers.