Denise is a single mother of three boys who put her career aspirations on hold while raising her children. Although she received her care aide certificate in 1997, the hours didn’t work with her lifestyle, so she worked at a local campground instead. Twenty years later—after her youngest son graduated and she began having issues with the campground’s management changes—Denise made the brave decision to leave her job and pursue what she was passionate about. This was easier said than done: her old care aide certificate was no longer accepted, and she didn’t have an up-to-date resume. Fatefully, she ran into an old friend who recommended Open Door Group’s WorkBC program.
Although the paperwork and meetings were tiring, Denise remained determined through the support of her case managers and family.
Denise began working with Eileen, Joseph and Pam at Open Door Group, and together they provided employment advisement, resume building, and financial planning resources. After two weeks, Denise began her care aide course. Although the paperwork and meetings were tiring, Denise remained determined through the support of her case managers and family. “At my age, you second guess yourself: Can I really do it? Is it really going to happen? Some days were really hard and I just came home and cried and cried,” said Denise. “But then my boys would tell me: ‘You can do it, Mom! You had the three of us all by yourself. You did it then, you can do it now!’”
Denise persevered through her self-doubt throughout the care aid course, and graduated with honours after seven months of never missing a class. “When I was walking down the aisle to get my certificate, my sons were just hooting and hollering, yelling ‘Go mom! Go mom!’” said Denise. Her middle son even told her that watching Denise work so hard throughout her experience at Open Door Group inspired him to try and return to school.
As a testament to her ability, Denise applied for six casual care aide positions after graduation and was successful in all of them. Although the work was inconsistent, she was finally doing what she loved. Then, Denise got a full-time position in South Okanagan. This meant that she had a reliable schedule, benefits, vacation time, and—most of all—a sense of purpose. “I feel so happy to go to work every day,” said Denise. “I’m so passionate about it. It’s exactly what I want to do.”
“I’m in the best place of my life at 50 than I’ve ever been.”
Some people find their dream job later than others, and Denise is proof that there is no such thing as ‘too late’ when one finds the right support. She described her case managers as beautiful, wonderful people who gave her the necessary support to achieve her goals.
And what’s next for Denise after all of this? “I’m in the best place of my life at 50 than I’ve ever been,” she said. “I have a bank account, and I’m thinking of buying my own house. And next month, I’m going to Ixtapa with some girlfriends for a wedding. I tell myself that after all the hard work, it’s a treat for myself.”