When I first came to the Sunshine Coast in 1993 jobs were almost non-existent. It didn't matter what your skills, education or past employment history were, if you didn't know someone who had an in when a rare job opening did come up, you were out of luck.
This was a huge shock to me. Never in my life had I ever been without a job when I needed one. And to add insult to injury, the job I left in Burnaby was a well-paying position. The technological world was in a great state of flux at this time, too. Computers were the new norm, and if you didn't have the necessary know-how, the few office jobs available were even more out of reach.
But there was some hope on the horizon. A local woman was offering skills upgrading through (at the time) Canada Manpower, including extensive training in the new world of Windows, then the cutting-edge technology.
And an excellent by-product of this training was the chance to meet other women in the same boat. Through one of them, I ended up hearing about a vacant position on a weekly newspaper. And although that particular job was anything but my dream job, I did make other contacts that ultimately resulted in the work I have today, as close to my dream job as is humanly possible.
So I think I owe a great deal of thanks to the woman whose foresight and belief in the Sunshine Coast labour force gave me that initial opportunity to expand my knowledge and contacts. And I am certainly not the only one.
Marilyn Magas had been providing those same sorts of opportunities to men and women on the Sunshine Coast since the early '90s. Her drive and determination are what power her baby, the Sunshine Coast Employment Centre. But that's not the whole story of Marilyn. She's also a volunteer extraordinaire. Name an organization to do with business on the Sunshine Coast, and Marilyn is either sitting on their board or has in the recent past. So it's hardly surprising that she was the driving force behind the newly minted Sunshine Coast Business Awards of Dis-tinction. This past Friday, Feb. 29, Marilyn's latest initiative honoured businesses in 10 different categories. The event was a huge success, the honourees dignified with a suitably terrific evening they'll remember forever. And although Marilyn is quick to give the hardworking group of folks who composed the steering committee full credit for all they did to make the event memorable, without her, the night might never have been a reality. And although there was no category for businessperson of the year at Friday's soirée, there's no question in my mind who would take the award hands down. For all she does for the business community of the Sunshine Coast, I, along with many others, salute Marilyn Magas. Thank you for everything.