Finding new paths for women facing adversity is at the heart of Soroptimist International of Victoria Westshore’s priorities.
The Imagining Possibilities Conference underlines the possibilities that await, said Suzanne Heron, organizer of this year’s event. A chance encounter at the Women’s March in Victoria in January underscored for Heron the difference the conference can make. “A teenager I don’t know asked if I was at the conference last year,” recalled, Heron, an artist and owner of Blue Heron Art. “She said it was ‘so cool’ and she was looking forward to attending again and bringing her friends. That reinforced the importance of these conferences. It’s very gratifying to know that when you present opportunities, young women will grab them with everything they’ve got. Some of the things I’ve learned over the years is that there’s a million pathways out there that they may have never considered, and it is possible to go through difficult times and come out on the other side. Participants realize there’s a community of support from women who want to help them.”
The women who attend the event are provided with tools and resources to empower them through workshops that cover topics ranging from money management to personal growth. An essential part of the Imagining Possibilities Conference is the Live your Dreams show, an exhibition with more than 50 women who have forged successful careers despite facing a variety of obstacles. The keynote speaker, Susan Simmons, an ultra-marathon swimmer and an advocate for people living with multiple sclerosis, will share her story of determination and commitment to goals. The workshops include Discovering Your Dreams, Balancing Stress, Job Search & Boot Camp, The Three Strategies of Unstoppable Women, How to be a Dollar Diva, and Resilience: The Key to Success.
Another part of past events that resonates with Heron, who has been involved with SIVW for six years, is the reaction from the women who donate their time, energy and money to make the conference possible. “On the way out, they’re thanking us for the opportunity to talk and share their experiences with these young women.”
Imagining Possibilities takes place on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chiefs & Petty Officers Mess at 1575 Lyall Rd. in Esquimalt. It is open to young women between 15 and 24 years of age. Admission is free, and includes a choice of three workshops, lunch, the Live Your Dream Show and great “swag.”
Pre-registration is required at sivw.ca/dibi/ip/register/. SIVW has been offering programs to improve the lives of young women since 2010.