Jessica Lepage is a guest attendant at Chartwell Rosedale Retirement Residence, where she also serves as the chief steward.
Jessica’s first SEIU Healthcare experience came at Convention 2015 in Niagara Falls, where her perspective on being a woman underwent a drastic change.
“Before getting involved with my union, being a woman was just about following the rules and doing what I was told. As I started to get involved, I started to understand how suppressed women are, even in such a progressive country like Canada.”
As Jessica got more involved, she learned how to stand up for herself and other women. This empowered her to want to do more and make a difference.
“People say things are better today for women than they used to be, but that doesn’t mean things are equal or right, because they’re not. We need stand up and make our voices heard because if we don’t, we will continue to be supressed.”
Prior to getting involved, Jessica describes herself as a very shy person. She credits SEIU Healthcare, especially the Leadership Academy, for pushing her out of her comfort zone and allowing her to grow as a person.
“The more I learned about myself and the world in general, the more confident I became. Knowledge really is power. As the mother of two daughters, I need them to understand their value and worth so they can pass that on to their friends, coworkers, and future generations. Women are far too often perceived as lesser and I need them to know how untrue that is.”
Jessica is looking forward to the SEIU Healthcare Women’s Conference on March 24 in Toronto, where “Femtorship” will be a major theme. Jessica’s SEIU Healthcare mentors include President Sharleen Stewart, Deputy Chief of Staff Tyler Downey and executive board member Mina Amrith, the latter of whom has had the biggest impact on her.
“Mina has mentored me since day one. She made me look inside myself and understand that I’m worth a lot more than I always thought. Thanks to her, I now know that I was meant to do something more. I’m not sure what that is yet, but it’s going to involve helping people who maybe can’t help themselves. I want to be part of something that makes the world a better place.”
And while she may not know what her future will bring, she’s already making a difference in the present. Inspired by SEIU Healthcare’s feminine hygiene product drive last fall, Jessica identified another group that needed help: low-income seniors who required adult incontinence products. Each day, these seniors must choose between their own dignity and daily essentials like food and housing. To combat this, Jessica successfully collected donations from her workplace, the community and SEIU Healthcare staff, filling her backseat and trunk with products.
For Jessica, an effort like this is just the starting point of her potential.
“In the past, my life was about going to work, coming home and raising my kids; that was it. Today, I need so much more than that. I need to keep growing, and when I grow as much as I can in one situation, it’s time to move onto the next. I’m excited to see what my future holds and what I’m going to accomplish.”