Local woman overcomes employment and personal challenges with Bridges for Women

Bridges for Women's employment program helps women gain confidence and skills to find a job

After her marriage ended, Monica Saeni returned to Victoria from the U.S. in 2013 with two young children in search of a new life.

She had been out of the workforce for seven years and was looking for a way to reintegrate into that world.

“I needed the community support, and I needed a way to get back into the community,” said Saeni. “I was scared, I didn’t know what to do, where to start, and very very confused.”

That is when a friend recommended she contact Bridges for Women about the employment program, which she did.

“My goal was really to just connect with other women who were going through similar situations as I was in, and also wanting to be able to get back on my feet and find resources on how I can find housing and get back to work.”

Coming out of a bad relationship, Saeni was also looking to improve her mental well-being with the help of the counsellors at Bridges.

“I learned how to take care of myself, how to put myself first, take care of my babies and talked a lot about how to prepare myself to jump back into the employment field.”

Through the employment program, Saeni worked at Investors Group from January to March 2014 as an administrative assistant.

“It was really amazing. I loved it,” she said. “I was really excited [about] just having that goal of waking up in the morning and saying that I’m going to work.”

Since then, Saeni has been enrolled in the business administration program at Camosun College. She will be finishing this spring and looking for a permanent job.

“I’m more confident,” said Saeni, describing how she changed since before starting the program at Bridges. “I know what I want, especially for a job. Also just knowing that I have those people at Bridges that I can always go back to. Having that resource is amazing.”

Milicia Ivaz at Investors Group has seen the positive effects of Bridges for Women on women like Saeni, which is why she decided to organize a women’s conference next month.

The conference will be held on May 8 and 9 at Camosun College, 3100 Foul Bay Rd.

On the Friday, there will be a panel of three women answering questions about women in leadership. The next day, there will be five workshops on topics such as story telling as a powerful tool in business and being a nurturing manager.

“The main thing is to enable and empower women to move ahead and moving to leadership and mentorship,” said Ivaz.

The cost of the weekend event is $100, with all proceeds going to Bridges for Women.

For more information, please go online to facebook.com/events/465459400268906/ or bridgesforwomen.ca.