Anita was one of the ten Ambassadors who walked the runway at IMPACT 360 on May 9th. Her story of resilience and perseverance is an amazing example of what the evening was celebrating. Anita is now committed to connecting women to Dress for Success Vancouver and inspiring them with her story.
Dress for Success Vancouver has been part of my life since 2011. I went in for an outfit and ended up participating in the PWG (Professional Women’s Group). It‘s a program that takes a year and a half to complete. But I was the exception. It took me over four years. The upside was that I got to hear many amazing speakers, learned new things and connected with incredible women. The downside was that I jumped from one crisis after another. I struggled in every area of my life. I lived in constant darkness.
During 2014 – 2016, I faced the most intense periods of my life. I nearly lost my life three times and spiraled out from feelings of confusion, fear and dread for my future. I weaved my way through the medical system and spent over a hundred days in hospital. It crushed my body, my mind and my soul. But when I could manage it, I continued to attend Dress for Success workshops. It was the only way I participated in life.
The darkness persisted until the spring of 2017 when my world exploded — but in the most beautiful way. I got a scholarship for a wellness retreat called Liberation in the Lifetime where I spent six days in Kamloops doing yoga, meditation and most importantly, I had the space to rediscover who I was after so much crisis. I connected with another Dress for Success member who saw me for who I was and invited me to volunteer at her YWCA job program. I have since worked with thirty women by helping them find confidence to reach their goals.
My volunteer work extends to participating in health committees (eight to date) because I am passionate about improving patient care and supporting frontline staff. I was also hired to work on a mental health research project called Imagining Inclusion. Working on this project has ignited a fire in me to facilitate change in the mental health system and reduce stigma. I have found my passion and purpose.
This year has also been inspiring. I received some amazing opportunities through the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I trained as an instructor to deliver Mental Health First Aid training in the community and also received a scholarship to attend specialized research training in Ottawa.
My ongoing involvement with Dress for Success Vancouver has definitely evolved. I am honoured to be an ambassador for an organization that has given me and other woman so much love and support. It has forced me out of my comfort zone and expanded my horizons by allowing me to use my voice. By telling my story, I really want to connect, inspire and give hope to other women. I have so much gratitude for all that I have received in my life because there is learning in every experience and it has shaped the woman I am today. As I continue on my journey, I know that the darkness has faded and so, I am determined to grab that light and shine.