Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Message from the Chair - September Newsletter

Message from the Chair

I write this message as the first day back to school reminds us all that the summer is passing and the beginnings of a new season are upon us. The first day back to school can be an exciting time for children and parents and anxiety provoking at the same time. What to wear, what will my new teacher be like, will my friends be near, and who will I eat lunch with are thoughts that I am sure each of us can remember. Incredibly, we got through that first day and first weeks with the help of others; and with any luck or good fortune we enjoyed a week without much incident and our confidence in the year ahead grew.

Imagine starting in a new job when you have been away from the workplace for a long time or perhaps you are going into a workplace like you have never been in before. Perhaps this is not a distant memory for some of you and for many women that we serve at Dress for Success Vancouver, the anxiety of an interview or a new job combined with limited personal and financial resources is very real.

Last year DFS was just that personal resource needed, serving more women than ever before and operating more programs than ever before. All of these results  were achieved while a fundamental change was being made to the service delivery model of employment services which is now under the umbrella of WorkBC. Incredibly all of this was delivered with the same compliment of amazing staff and dedicated cohort of extraordinary volunteers. Without their tireless efforts, the first days of work or that interview might not have been as successful as it could be for many women and their families. Confidence was built for over 2000 women in Vancouver.  Thank you!!

The year ahead for the Board is full opportunity as we think deeply about how we resource Dress for Success Vancouver financially and operationally. We want to continue to be the trusted resource to the women in our community who need our services and we must build a financial base that enables us to adapt and be nimble to the changing labour market. I am very exited about the possibilities and the years ahead. As we start our new year, we have many of our current Board members who will continue to be exceptionally committed and provide remarkable contributions through the giving of their time and expertise. We say thank you and good-bye to Sandra Wear who completed her term and welcome three new Board members; Brad Mills, Fereshteh Zeineddin, and Jane Estey. We look forward to the contributions that these three very talented people will bring to our Board.  To read more about each, please view the DFSV web-site for their Bios.

We are "going places, going strong"!

The Story of the Yellow Cardigan... continued

Original Post - April 10, 2012

Last week, the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP)  had their international conference in Vancouver. Fundraisers from all over flocked to the Vancouver Convention Centre for the 3 day event.  The attendees were encouraged to donate gently used and current business wear to Dress for Success Vancouver as part of the conference.

On the opening day, Eloise, a client of Dress for Success, shared her story with the 4000 people in attendance.  There was not a dry eye in the audience after she spoke.  Following the presentation, one of the international delegates was so moved by Eloise's story that she approached the Dress for Success table and donated the new yellow, cashmere cardigan off her back.

I was so thrilled when this cardigan came in. Not only was it gorgeous, but I loved the story that came with it. I  put it on display immediately!
A little background info on our Dressing Services 
Dress for Success Vancouver clients have 2 opportunities to use the Dressing Services. On the interview appointment, a volunteer stylist will work with the client to find a full outfit to wear to her interview, and when she finds employment, she can come back two more outfits to start a mini working wardrobe!

Today, we had thirteen clients came in, some were preparing for interviews and others just landed a job.  Rachel had come in last year for her interview outfit and arrived today for her employment suiting. Can you guess where this is going?

The yellow cardigan found a new home!

Thank you to the AFP conference for selecting Dress for Success Vancouver to participate.

Thank you to Eloise for sharing her story with over 4000 people.

Thank you to the delegate who donated the sweater off her back.

Thank you to the volunteer, Christine, who helped Rachel find her fabulous outfits

Thank you to Rachel for modeling one of the outfits you went home with today. Congratulations on your new job!

Where is Rachel today?

Here is a note we received from Rachel today:

Hi Val,

When I last saw Dress for Success I was sort of 'testing' out a new job possibility with a gallery in Gastown.  I volunteered 1-2 days per week for a few months to see how things would go - a kind of long-term interview of sorts.  Things went really well, so starting in July 2012 I began full-time - finally, 5 years after graduating with an art degree I have a job in the arts!  Patience and persistence, I tell you.  Attached is a photo of me in the yellow sweater at the gallery.  I cannot express to you how grateful I am for the clothes provided by Dress for Success.  It's imperative that I look professional when dealing with potential collectors, and I could have never afforded these beautiful clothes otherwise - it's really helped to get my career off to a good start.  And I LOVE the fact that I got this beautiful cashmere sweater from a woman who was kind enough to literally take it off her back - I've renamed it 'the love sweater', and always think of that story when I put it on.

So if you're ever in the mood for a little walk, come by and visit Trench Contemporary Art, 148 Alexander St. in Gastown - our gallery includes many works from senior Vancouver artists as well as newer emerging artists.  Open 12-6 Wed-Fri and 12-5 on Sat!

Thanks again to all the wonderful women who help with this program: volunteers, employees, and those who donate the beautiful clothes - I have so much gratitude for all of you.