Dress for Success Spotlight: Everyone has a story. This is Fiona’s.

By Connie Chang  /  

#DressforSuccessVancouver, #Inspirational

Everyone has a story.

This is mine.

It begins in Scotland.

Immigrating to Canada with my parents, and younger brother, just in time to start Junior High School in Calgary.

At 15 my Mom died.

At 21 I married my high school sweetheart – and was divorced by 28.

Marriage #2 – my dream home, travelled the world, played a lot of golf, and helped raise a step-son while managing my husband’s dental practice.

But sometimes things are not as they seem; money does not buy happiness, and I discovered there was another woman. I was so hurt.

I ran away to the South Pacific. Arriving in the Cook Islands with two suitcases and my golf clubs.

What else does a gal need?

And for the next few years I experienced heaven on earth

But paradise also came with challenges.

After six weeks of marriage – to husband #3 – I was assaulted by my eldest stepdaughter. 3 broken ribs, a concussion, and numerous lacerations. My husband drove me to Emergency and left me there.

Two weeks later I was released from hospital. My bank account had been emptied.

I was so frightened. Thousands of miles from home.

But – I had to be strong.

My extended family rallied; my mother in law being my biggest supporter; and it wasn’t long before I was back on my feet.

I returned to Calgary in 2007 – to regroup and reprioritize.

Now – back in my early 20’s – I had some recurring health issues. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I have tried to not let it get in my way; I have good days with bad and I just get on with things.

But – at 47 – I had a heart attack.

Let’s talk about reprioritizing.

When the time came to get back to work, I decided I wanted to return to health care. I retrained as a Surgical Fitter, working mostly with women who had undergone mastectomies. I loved what I was doing and thought I had finally found my calling – and my forever job.

It was not meant to be.

In my mid-fifties, and within a short period of time, I was laid off from my job and I lost my Dad – the one man I could always count on.

With nothing now to keep me in Calgary; and my brother here in Vancouver, I packed up my life and headed west.

But – The move came with its challenges.

Rent was twice what I had paid in Calgary. I had no connections to open any doors. I was even finding it hard to get an interview.

But finally, working with a Case Manager at Work BC – things started to happen.

“What was I going to wear?”

And then I was referred to Dress for Success.

WOW!

My first visit was for an interview outfit. I came away – not just with an amazing outfit – but feeling confident and determined – I was going back to work.

Now – I am a great believer that everything happens for a reason.

And – I didn’t get “that” job.

But a week later I was interviewed by CBRE – and started – in a temporary capacity – last October.

I returned to Dress for Success, where I received two more amazing outfits; and at this time was given information about their Professional Women’s Group, which I started in January.

I have made an 18 month commitment to learn, grow and share – with monthly meetings, guest speakers, mentorship opportunities and networking with a wonderful group of women.

I have a renewed sense of belonging. I am making new friends, in my new city.

In August my position of Concierge at CBRE went permanent. I truly feel blessed to be part of such an amazing Team, some of whom are sitting here today. Your support means so much.

We recently hosted a suit drive for Dress for Success. I am hoping we can make it an annual event, as well as taking the initiative Canada wide with other CBRE offices.

My confidence continues to grow. I have completed the Sun Run, do volunteer work with the City of Vancouver – completing my training with Vancouver Fire and Rescue in Emergency Preparedness.

Each day is a new challenge. Vancouver has been all about change for me. These changes continue, and the evolution is so satisfying.

And then there is the Team at Dress for Success – Vancouver. Allowing me to share my story and make a call to action for you to consider making a contribution to help sponsor a woman – like myself – so that they too can achieve their potential. It costs $360 a year for one woman, that’s $30 a month, or $1 a day – to change a woman’s life.

Please – help me – make an impact – make a donation.