Bonnie Lewis, a Bridge’s for Women Employment Program graduate and owner of Sweeping Beauty Concierge, is ready to take on Victoria with her new found insight from the six month intensive program. (Photo provided)

Bridges for Women grad takes on new business idea

Victoria woman puts her lessons into action with Sweeping Beauty Concierge

Move over Marie Kondo, Bonnie Lewis of Sweeping Beauty Concierge is ready to de-clutter the people of Victoria’s homes, heads and hearts.

Lewis is a graduate of the Bridges for Women Employment Program and believes she’s a testament to the power an individual can have in making choices that can change their lives. The programs provided by the Bridge’s for Women Society are for women who have experienced trauma at any time in their lives that has impacted them negatively whether that be relationships or ability to be employed and teaches them better coping and surviving skills.

The six month program that Lewis attended offered education, training and personal and group counselling.

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“Six months is wild. There are days when it feels like six years and there are days when it feels like six seconds,” says Lewis. “Unless you’ve gone through it, I actually don’t know if you can fully appreciate what those women do, collectively, for the Bridges participants in those classrooms and counselling sessions.”

Lewis started Sweeping Beauty as a cleaning company in the early 2000s. Running errands, walking people’s dogs and cleaning, Lewis found herself doing the work solely because she was good – leaving her feeling stuck.

“I decided to go full time into caregiving — which I’m very good at — but I feel it chose me and I didn’t really choose it.”

After separating from her husband, Lewis recalls her breaking point was in the midst of another 14-hour work day. Sitting alone in her car for a 20-minute break in between clients, she heard a radio ad for the employment program and decided that was it. She remembers feeling a mix of excitement and nerves, a sign she was headed the right direction.

“Sometimes it’s not 50/50, but the idea is just to start saying yes to things,” says Lewis.

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Wendy Schultz, a program facilitator for Bridges, says the impact the program makes on the women coming through the door is incredible.

“I would say I start noticing change in about three weeks,” says Schultz. “And then in the next few weeks as things start to settle in and women get these really big ah-ha moments … and they start to put themselves first.”

A couple weeks into the employment program Lewis says she had her ah-ha moment, realizing how many people in that room were working jobs they didn’t like only because they were good at them. Lewis says another big realization came after writing out her skills and realizing just how many she actually had.

“The pathways that we’ve made for ourselves to be able to survive and the things we’ve done creatively to work around different situations that maybe people without trauma wouldn’t have as a challenge — they’re all transferable skills,” says Lewis.

Lewis maintains that while she feels special she knows her story is something anyone could be living.

“After many many many years of thinking I was different, or broken or stuck, or that I was always going to be second — it wasn’t as hard as I imagined,” she says.

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Schultz has seen a number of women go through the program and go on to succeed in the rest of their life, adding former participants will keep in contact years down the road updating Bridge’s staff throughout their lives.

“It’s very exciting, especially when you get these ah-ha moments or they start letting go of the pain or tears or blame — whatever someone’s been holding onto for a really long time — it feels really good,” says Schultz.

As for Lewis, she’s ready to take on the world with her new set of beliefs, her new sense of self and her newly reimagined business.

“[I’m ready to work with] people that are feeling stagnant and want to just create space in their life and in their home and in their offices and in their heart.”



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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