The Duchess of Sussex became patron of Smart Works during her time as a working royal, and she's praising the charity for providing "much more than a handout...you provide a hand held"
Meghan Markle is celebrating a cause she's continued to champion from across the pond.
On Friday, Smart Works released a statement that the Duchess of Sussex, 42, shared in honor of its tenth anniversary. The U.K.-based charity helps unemployed and vulnerable women find work by providing them with coaching tips and professional attire for job interviews, and Meghan has served as patron since 2019. Smart Works is one of the four original public patronages she received after marrying Prince Harry in 2018, and she has stayed in the role following their step back from their royal roles and move to California in 2020.
“Congratulations to the entire Smart Works community on 10 incredible years of transforming lives. For the last decade, you have made an indelible mark on women across the UK who have walked into your doors in need of more than just an outfit — they needed someone to believe in them. As I’ve said before, you provide much more than a handout, at Smart Works you provide a hand held,” Meghan began the heartfelt statement, which the organization shared on its website.
“Over the years, I’ve seen firsthand the unforgettable smile that comes across a woman’s face when she receives the Smart Works experience of care, inspiration, and empowerment. Something changes for her in that moment, and sets her on a path she may never have thought possible,” she continued.
“At Smart Works, you are investing in the future of women, and as a result, the world. I am so grateful to all of you who make this work possible each and every day. Celebrating you from across the pond and wishing you another amazing decade!” Meghan concluded.
The message was published with a group photo showing Client Champions at Smart Works’ 10th-anniversary celebration on Thursday.
Since its launch in 2013, Smart Works has worked with over 32,000 women and 665 volunteers, opened 11 centers and watched 69% of women in the community get the job. Meghan paid “several private visits” to Smart Works hubs both before and after becoming a patron, the charity said.
The Duchess of Sussex memorably made a stop at Smart Works for her return to royal duty after her maternity leave for the birth of Prince Archie in 2019, and she launched a capsule collection of women's workwear that September.
She’s stayed connected to the cause following her family’s transatlantic move, making video calls and sending supportive messages to women job hunting with Smart Works.
In March 2021, Smart Work revealed that she sent handwritten notes to wish luck to job hunting women. Penning a personal message to each woman, Meghan put her calligraphy skills to good use — addressing and signing each message with a sentence or two of encouragement in her own handwriting.
For one client who was preparing for an interview, Meghan wrote, "You'll be amazing in your interview! Remember deep breaths and be yourself."
Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
In November 2022, before Giving Tuesday, the California-based, female-led sustainable fashion brand Cuyana announced the donation of 500 Classic Structured Tote Bags to Smart Works. Meghan said in a statement that the synergy felt like a “perfect fit” — and even has the bag in her own closet! She carried the tote at Wimbledon in 2014 and even filled the bags with goodies as thank-you favors for friends who attended her NYC baby shower for Archie four years ago.
It was announced in 2019 that Meghan would support four patronages in her royal work — Smart Works, the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Mayhew, an animal welfare charity in England. Her patronages of the National Theatre and the Association of Commonwealth Universities reverted to the crown after she and Prince Harry announced their decision to step back in 2020.
Meghan retained her relationships with Smart Works and Mayhew, while Harry’s patronages of organizations including the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League, plus his honorary military appointments, reverted.
Today, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex give back and pay it forward to many causes through the Archewell Foundation. The foundation is the charitable arm of their larger Archewell organization, including Archewell Audio and Archewell Productions. Earlier this month, the couple traveled to Germany for the sixth cycle of Prince Harry's Invictus Games, the international adaptive sports tournament for wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans he founded in 2014.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.