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Volunteer Profiles : Lesley and Jennifer Wint

Lesley Wint (right) and her daughter Jennifer Wint (left).

Lesley is one of our star volunteer. She likes to keep herself busy yet still sets time for Dress for Success Vancouver. Her dedication to the organization does not end there. Lesley’s genuine interest with Dress for Success also influenced her daughter, Jennifer Wint, to take part in volunteering.

Lesley Wint

How did you get involved with Dress for Success Vancouver?

My friend from Sydney, Australia, told me about Dress for Success. She came to Vancouver to visit me and decided to drop by the boutique to see Deb, the Executive Director at the time. She kept telling me that I should get involved, that I will enjoy it and I would be great at it. I was still unsure because I didn’t know what to do at that time, neither did I think I was a stylist, but she was convinced I will learn quickly. Now I am here and I managed to convince my friend, Donna, to come with me. We ride together too; it is like an outing for us!

How long have you been volunteering at Dress for Success Vancouver?

I’ve been volunteering for 4 years now, I like spending my time here. The organization provides great flexibility for my volunteer shifts.

What is your role at Dress for Success Vancouver?

I am a Dressing Services consultant, so I help find an interview appropriate outfit for our clients. It is a very fulfilling position; I get to see the women’s demeanor and confidence change when they are with me. When someone focuses on the women just for an hour, they realize something is different and special – they really look at things in a new light. It is so fulfilling seeing that change in just an hour and it makes me feel very grateful for what I have.

How did you get your daughter, Jennifer Wint, involved with Dress for Success Vancouver?

I just asked her if she wanted to do it, and she said yes. It is always good for younger people to be involved with the community. Volunteers who help dress clients during the day time are pretty much retired, so it is good to bring in young people. Also I feel that it is a good fit for Jen; she has been very lucky in her life and it’s nice to give her an opportunity to see what is out there.

What do you find most fulfilling about volunteering with Dress for Success Vancouver?

It is very nice to see how grateful people are for the service the organization provides. Every time I volunteer, the environment is positive. I went to the Dress for Success boutique in Sydney, and the environment is just the same, positive energy.  When I see Jen volunteering, I can tell she is very happy to be involved and is now part of the Success Luncheon planning committee. I like volunteering with her and seeing her interacting with the clients.

What qualities do you see from your daughter when she is volunteering?

She’s an outgoing person and relates well to clients. She has a flare for choosing the right outfit for clients. I can tell she is excited to be a part of Dress for Success because she would tweet and do social media stuff about it.

Has volunteering changed or inspired you in any way?

I think about how grateful I am for my circumstances. It is nice to help people feel good about themselves. I know I am in a good place when I look forward to volunteering. After every shift, I get that sweet satisfaction and it is my biggest take away. I used to volunteer for things Jen was involved with, now I direct my volunteering efforts to complete strangers; receiving handwritten thank you letters from clients fills me with gratitude. When I hear about clients’ stories, I am amazed by their human spirit and their ability to pull themselves back up.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I like to go golfing, play tennis and go biking.

Jennifer Wint

How did you get involved with Dress for Success Vancouver?

I knew about Dress for Success Vancouver through social media. I followed them through Twitter first because I was involved with many events they attended; we crossed paths on many occasions. I’m familiar with the organization because my mom talks about it as well. Then one day, she asked if I was interested in volunteering and I said yes in an instant.

How long did you volunteer for?

I started volunteering approximately 18 months ago.

What was your first impression of Dress for Success Vancouver?

The whole process is very organized; it is a seamless cycle. It’s neat knowing that the volunteers take pride in what they do, which is why the organization moves so well.

What are your volunteer shifts like?

My shifts go by fast because every hour is different, I lose track of time and I know my shift is over when I get hungry. I start each consulting session fresh – for example, I get clients every hour who are the same age, but their background and style is different and I have to keep that in mind. It is interesting when clients tell me they don’t want to try on skirts or dresses because they aren’t comfortable with it and then end up leaving with one. At first, it was difficult because I didn’t think I was a stylish person, so I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but now it is getting easier. I love that the consulting role is so different from what I do on a regular basis.

How does it feel spending your time at Dress for Success Vancouver with your mom?

My first shift was with my mom, and I remember it went by so fast. It was neat to have her in her element while I just shadowed someone. Seeing my mom do something she is comfortable with while I am new at it is different. It is really amazing for me to see her volunteering because it is such a small part of her week but makes such a big impact, so the people she helps must feel an even bigger impact. I still remember when she would volunteer on a Wednesday and still talk about it on Friday. Sometimes after her shift, she would phone me and say “you are so lucky; you don’t know how lucky you are”. It makes me realize a lot of people my age haven’t had the opportunity I had.

After our volunteer shift, we go for coffee and spend time with each other. We also exchange stories and experience because everyone we meet is so unique. It changes my way of thinking throughout the day and that thought stays with me.

What quality do you see from Lesley when she is volunteering?

What I noticed is that she is good at getting people to try things out of their comfort zone.

Has the volunteer experience changed or inspired you in any way?

It makes me appreciate the opportunities I have. I realize it is important to volunteer in general because it is very rewarding to have the time, effort and energy to give back. It makes me feel good and I get a lot back from the little time I offer to volunteer.

Do you have any client stories that stand out to you?

Young clients are the ones that affect me the most – one girl was from Eastern Canada with her brother and dad. She had no experience and completely starting fresh; it must have been scary for her to be on a clean slate and just don’t know where to go.

I also find it interesting that some of our clients work for themselves. I work for myself and fortunately I am getting a lot of opportunities; I have to be very conscious about it as it might not last forever. For example, one girl was a graphic designer and was getting work, and then it went downhill for her. Listening to that made me think it could happen to me. She really stood out to me because I saw qualities in her that I could see in myself, and it really hits me when I see the parallelism between me and the clients.

What do you like to do outside of volunteering?

I am a public relations/communications consultant. I also volunteer with Now That’s Ugly Society. I also like country music and drinking wine.

Any last thoughts about Dress for Success Vancouver or the people involved?

The organization provides many opportunities for volunteers, there are many different roles like being a part of the Success Luncheon Committee. Also, this is a huge part of Vancouver; someone like me who is out there and in the community would not miss a chance to cross paths with Dress for Success Vancouver. You get to meet so many people and other volunteers! It is nice to see retired people give back to the community as well. For someone like my mom, who has been so busy her whole life would not have had time for this and now she is does, she uses it in a positive way.

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