Celebrating Women Entering the Workforce: The 2016 BESS Reunion and Graduation

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On June 22nd, Interval House hosted the 6th Annual BESS Reunion and Graduation to honor past and present program graduates. It was an emotional night that inspired everyone who attended and made them proud to be a part of the BESS program.

The Building Economic Self-Sufficiency (BESS) program is an employment program that addresses the unique needs of women who are survivors of domestic violence. Participants gain the tools they need to find a job and achieve exactly what the name of the program says: economic self-sufficiency. Women learn through BESS how to write a resume and cover letter, conduct a job search, practice their interviewing skills, and how to balance work and parenting. This year, the BESS program boasts 39 graduates, 6 employer partners, and 45 women served by Job Development. 

The night began with a motivating speech made by Phil Soper, President and CEO of Royal LePage & Brookfield Real Estate Services and founder of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to eradicating domestic violence by supporting shelters across the country. In his speech, he explained his personal involvement with the BESS program as an employer partner and his views on the importance of economic self-sufficiency.

Following Mr. Soper’s inspiring speech, Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services, made a special address to announce some exciting changes for the sector, emphasized shelter accessibility, and shared her congratulations to the graduates.

The 2016 valedictorian moved the entire room to tears when she thanked the BESS program and concluded her speech saying, “They say when one door closes, another door opens. But I think when a door closes, many, many doors open.”  

After the valedictorian’s speech, graduate awards were given to four high-achieving graduates. Presenting the graduate awards were Kip Southam, Phil Soper, Colin Webster, and Michael Young.

It was a truly touching evening and we were glad to recognize Clear Cause Cleaners, Luminus Financial, Metro, Royal LePage Shelter Foundation, and Timbercreek and our dedicated donors: CIBC, LesLois Shaw Foundation, Michael & Sharon Young, R. Howard Webster. Special thanks to our event sponsors Wyse Meter Solutions (Flower Sponsor) and VO2 Health Focus (AV Sponsor) who made the evening possible.