Trude Huebner's story is one of perseverance and hope. During a lengthy battle with breast cancer, the professional writer, editor and researcher was unable to work. Isolated, financially challenged, and feeling out of step with the world, Huebner found herself with little energy to move forward. Her situation affected her economic outlook and her spirit.
"The financial crunch appeared insurmountable," she says.
At the end of her treatments, her journey of recovery led the Vancouver native to Dress for Success Vancouver, a charity that helps low and no income women to transition into the workforce. She received an interview suit and landed a part-time job. It wasn't enough. An invitation to attend the non-profit Professional Women's Group provided Huebner, now 65, the spark she was looking for to change her circumstance.
Offered the chance to share her experience with other like-minded women who also had the desire to find fulfilling careers, with the help of her mentor, Huebner landed the position she wanted.
"Dress for Success goes beyond the suit," says the Lions Gate Hospital health information management professional.
"When I am complimented on looking wonderful at work, it provides me confidence. I take it as an indicator that I have left the down times behind."
How has Dress for Success been instrumental in your professional development?
Being involved with happy, sometimes feisty, always encouraging, women was like being rescued from a deserted island. My brain fired up again. I left cancer behind. I practically salivated thinking about moving into a great job.
What specific things did you learn from Dress for Success?
The work world is very competitive. When we look good, our confidence soars. Women, when they reach out, and join hands, can overcome obstacles which seem insurmountable.
Was there an individual who was instrumental in your success?
Dianne, my mentor at Dress for Success. She polished my resume, helped me acknowledge obstacles and gave me advice on how to overcome them.
What would you share with someone who may be seeking help?
You're very important. Whatever setback you're experiencing, it's a temporary bump in your life. Amazingly, we can move forward and leave the bad stuff behind.
What has been the result for you personally and professionally?
A great job and a great manager who encourages cross-training in our department, so I now work in a variety of positions and get to hang out with a great team of stimulating colleagues.
What message would you give those considering getting involved with Dress for Success?
Mentor-here is an opportunity to be an active part of shaping a woman's future. Your experience in the workplace is invaluable. Be the spark plug to jumpstart a person's career. Donate clothing or accessories. Please give what you would be proud to wear to your workplace. Or for $12.50 a month, sponsor one woman through all of the programs and services Dress for Success offers. Biggest accomplishment?
I can change the spark plugs in my car.
Setback? What's a setback?
What does success look like?
Success is contentment. Success is laughing with delight on payday. Success is having your work colleagues surprise you with a giant strawberry shortcake for your birthday. Success is acknowledging your inner swagger.
Best life lesson you've learned?
Folks who say they love change, don't!
One lesson you'd love to give others?
Reach out. You never know who is going to give you a leg up.
One thing you could change about the world?
We need more beaches.
Three words to live by?
Faith. Faith. Faith.
Your secret talent?
I can twirl a baton with great style.
One thing you can't live without?
My goofy cat Blue.
Last $20 bucks to your name, how would you spend it?
Local strawberries, in season, topped with Avalon whipping cream.
Best place for coffee?
Continental Coffee for mocha with whipped cream-cold in the summer, hot in the winter.
Nothing beats sitting on my deck drinking Happy Planet Extreme Green.
Hy's Encore, to acknowledge my inner carnivore.
Last book read?
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith.
A tie: The Blues Brothers and Grease.
Talking with my gal pals. Best thing about this city?
Public art in unexpected places.
Worst thing about this city?
The east/west divide.
Mount Pleasant. Community even you look forward to every year?
The second annual Dress for Success 5K Power Walk which takes place May 12, 9 a.m. Join us! Starts at Oakridge Centre.
Where do you take out-of-town visitors?
Queen Elizabeth Park-the quarry garden and the Bloedel Conservatory.
Who bugs you?
The Housewives of Anywhere. How nasty to treat other women in this manner.
Memorable celebrity encounter?
Sitting with Jimmy Page at the Yale. I didn't recognize him. How embarrassing it was to realize I'd spent all this time blabbering about how to reduce his crow's feet and other aging information with the God of rock guitar.