After an employment program helped Honey change her own life, she knew she wanted to help other women do the same thing.
“I know that United Way can change a life because it changed mine. When I relocated to a new city, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, or how to find a job. I took a course at a United Way-supported employment program and once I was done, the facilitators ended up coming to me with an offer to work with the women’s program. They really liked what they saw and gave me an opportunity.
There’s a lot of First Nations women here in the city that are in the same place I was back then; they’re trying to figure out where to go next. I like being that person to help give them some direction. I find it is really important to talk about who we are and where we are from and to have a sense of belonging. It helps that they can talk about their experiences or the impact of generational trauma with someone who understands. We start with self-development—stress management, time management, goal setting, etc.—and then help them with their professional goals.
I understand a lot of the barriers they’re facing because I have experienced them myself and have overcome a lot of them. Still, sometimes the participants are traumatized and it’s hard to reach them. There was one student, an older lady, who was very standoffish and kind of angry. She ended up doing a placement at a senior’s home helping them with arts and crafts, and when she was done, she got a great reference letter. And then, she actually wrote a grant and created her own job so she could continue on at the senior centre.
She came to see me not long after to thank me, and it was very powerful. She was so happy—you could see it in her face, and the way she talked. She was genuinely a different person from when I had met her months earlier, more organized and surer of what she wanted to do.
It felt good to know I made a difference in someone’s life. It shows that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”