Clarita Casiver was an ambassador for our IMPACT 360 event, and one of six Professional Women’s Group clients chosen to walk down the runway for our fashion show. Having been involved with Dress for Success since November 2015 and currently undergoing PWG since January 2016, she recently spoke at our Donor Appreciation Party to show her incessant support for the programs that continue to support her.
Tell me a little about your life before Dress for Success, and how you stumbled upon us.
I came here from the Philippines, and worked as a live-in caregiver for three and a half years. I took on different jobs, but it was all on-call work, unfortunately. I kept attending workshops in the community and learning different skills, but I couldn’t find a good job. Then my friend introduced me to Dress for Success. On the pamphlet that she showed me, it read: “Unleash your potential”. That day, my sister said to me, “You have potential – why don’t you use it?” I later attended a Dress for Success workshop, where the topic consisted of letting go of fear and the past – and I was hooked.
How did you feel after receiving your first outfit?
I felt like a mature woman. Before going through dressing services, I didn’t really care about how I portrayed myself to the world. But I eventually became more curious, and I wanted to understand how people perceived me. When I speak to people now, I want to leave a positive impression on them.
You’re currently enrolled in PWG. Can you tell me what PWG is like?
PWG is a support network of women – it’s a place to empower yourself, a place to give back. Through the Dress for Success Vancouver programs, I have learnt how to dress for interviews and my job, how to empower others, and how to boost my confidence and act like the woman I am.
What was the most impactful thing about going through PWG?
PWG helped me find dignity, respect, and determination in my life, to do things in a positive way, to give love. A woman has a lot of love to give, but if you don’t love yourself first and establish the right boundaries, others won’t be able to feel it. I’ve let opportunities pass because I was too focused on others and on the past. Now I try to learn more about myself and spend more time with myself. I want to take better care of my mind.
Looking back at your life so far, what are you most grateful for?
I’m grateful for the change that I see happening within myself and in everything around me, which is helping me improve my life little by little.
What are some goals that you have for the future?
I want to continue improving myself and advancing in my career. Eventually I would love to go back to school to become a medical office assistant, buy a house, and continue having as much success in the future.
What kind of advice would you give to a woman who’s going through a rough time in her life?
To have hope. When I came to Canada, there was little hope for me: my employer left the province and my medical exam failed. Back in the Philippines, everyone had said, “You can’t go to Canada, you’re dumb, you have no money.” Everything was against me, and for a while, I didn’t want to continue living.
If you’re going through a difficult time, you should attend a PWG session because it will give you strength and empower you as a woman. You need to fight for what you know is best for you. Through PWG, you will learn how to handle yourself and others, to find a good job, and to build the confidence that you need to have in yourself.
Any last thoughts?
When I recommended PWG to a friend once, she told me, “Oh I don’t know, I’ll try to join if I have time.” But I told her (and everyone else thinking this right now): “Don’t miss it. It’s important.”