IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Woman on a mission
Bernice Croft started volunteering with Dress for Success Wellington three years ago on her return to New Zealand after ten years volunteering overseas. Bernice is a life-long volunteer and has also been an active member of Soroptimist International for the best part of 30 years. Soroptimist International, like Dress for Success, aims to support women worldwide by providing professional service and active engagement in the fields of advocacy, health, education and the environment.
Born the second eldest of seven children into a South Island farming family just after WWII, Bernice was encouraged from an early age to be independent and to travel far and wide in pursuit of her dreams. At the age of 20, she transferred to Wellington to work with the Public Service and went on to marry at the age of 24. In between her first 15 years with the Wellington City Council as Housing Officer, and her final 15 years as the first female building inspector in New Zealand, Bernice found time to be appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1972. In this role she served in the traffic court as well as attending Saturday morning remand and bail sessions.
Six months after becoming a widow in her 60s Bernice embarked on the next stage of her life when she was accepted as a volunteer for an international organisation in Chennai, India. During her time with the organisation, Bernice progressed from working in the Editorial Office to being invited by the International President to be her Private Secretary. Bernice’s ‘give it a go’ attitude opened many doors to travel within India and several world trips.
“To travel as a tourist is one thing, but to live in a country with a very different culture is challenging. I had to adapt to the heat, different food, and customs and live with no telephone or television, and do my washing in a bucket,” recalls Bernice.
It was a mile from where she lived to where she worked, and after fifty years of not cycling Bernice found herself cycling to work every day.
With her desire to help others and give it go attitude, it’s not difficult to see what drew New Zealand’s first female building inspector to Dress for Success Wellington.
“Dress for Success has given me great pleasure, women helping women to be the best that they can be, and to be part of a team who practically prepares women to enter the work force is exciting and worthwhile,” Bernice says.
In her capacity as a client dresser Bernice has an opportunity to see first-hand the difference that coming to Dress for Success has on our clients. “The transformation of a client into appropriate clothing and accessories suitable for an interview, is confidence building,” says Bernice.
"Furthermore,"says Bernice, “the generosity of our donors, and the amazing team of volunteers attracted to Dress for Success, has given me many hours of friendship, and an opportunity to learn new skills.”
Thinking about making a difference like Bernice?
Dress for Success relies on the support of our diverse range of volunteers to help women as they look for work and start a new job. The kinds of voluntary support we need include:
· being a dresser (training is provided)
· help with fundraising events such as clothing sales and the annual appeal
· communications - preparing media releases, writing for publication, web writing, and design
· research - collecting and analysing information on important topics that impact our work.
Any time you can spare is welcome. Dress for Success Wellington tries to match volunteer experience where possible with the roles on offer. Contact us for more information.