(em) Power Walkers for Dress for Success

Empowering spirit motivated Dress for Success Ottawa to enter a team with Scotiabank Charity Challenge for the first time in the 2021 Virtual Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Their ‘Walk a Mile FOR Her Shoes’ campaign encourages communities to walk and raise money to fund sessions in the ‘Virtual Suiting Program’; which has given away over 431 pairs of shoes in 352 Virtual Career and Confidence Suitings in the past 4 months alone. “We were spurred to action by the support of a local development company, Glenview Homes, who created a team called the (em)Power Walkers. We are so grateful for their support,” says Alison Sochasky, Development and Programming Manager when talking with Run Ottawa. 

A team of seven staff members, the (em)Power Walkers, are registered to walk/run a 5K route in Barrhaven, starting at a model home on 41 Deerfox Drive. Members of the community and donors are invited to join the team and use some of the fun race routes they’ve curated in different areas of the city on Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Glenview is a regular supporter of Dress for Success, donating and volunteering over the past two years. “Being a woman in the workforce, I am an advocate for empowering women. Since typical in-person events are now non-existent we felt that this partnership opportunity was a great one to showcase independence for all women, even those who may be at a disadvantage. Glenview Homes believes regardless of social and economic status, everyone should have an equal opportunity to establish and advance in a career of their choice,” shares Mirjana Opat.

Dress for Success Ottawa volunteer and team captain, Mandie Vossenberg, is also offering free training and motivation to the rest of the (em)Power Walkers. As a professional trainer who is running both the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and then a 5km with her team and husband, she really knows her stuff and can share lots of tips for training. She also mapped fun race routes in the city near Glenview Home developments. 

Since they first opened their doors in 2011, thousands of women across the National Capital Region have been suited, and offered professional training, job search support and career coaching in their 12 free support programs. The tireless efforts of the small staff team of 4.5 and 250+ volunteers shows in the confidence building and success of the clients who use their services experience.

“I really appreciated all of the programming offered by Dress for Success. Whenever there was a new program offered, I was the first to put up my hand and say ‘YES! Pick me! I want to learn something new … I cannot sing the praises of Dress for Success enough. They gave me the confidence to continue to drive myself to learn new skills and to push against barriers. I sincerely credit the volunteers and staff who assisted me with getting to where I am now: a self-sufficient career-woman, who is on the path to management and a great future,” says Client Ambassador Leah.

“Nothing is allowed to stop our clients from defining and meeting their goals,” says Sochasky, “Not the traditional barriers women face in the workforce, and certainly not the pandemic caused she-cession”. Last year, Dress for Success immediately pivoted to offering all it’s services virtually and also started the Helping Women Now program which allows women and non-binary individuals who feel most comfortable in the female-centred environment to self-refer for their services as well as offering 1-1 problem-solving and local resource hunting to combat pandemic-related social and economic issues.

You can join the team, or be a part of their cheer squad and donate to the (em)Power Walkers so they can empower women across the National Capital Region to take their first steps towards financial independence: https://ottawa.dressforsuccess.org/get-involved/events/race-weekend-2021/

Interested in their services? Go to ottawa.dressforsuccess.org/client to learn more