Long-time supporter Jill Bodkin has participated in many Minerva programs over the years. Most recently, she was invited to attend Learning to Lead™ BC last year as a Community Leader, and this year, she became a Minerva Education Awards donor.
This $5,000 annual award is quite unique. In establishing Minerva’s newest education award, Jill has committed herself to supporting women who have struggled with addiction and are now on a path to recovery.
The Jill’s Family Education Award is meant for women with at least three years of successful recovery and can be used at any educational institution in BC. The successful recipient could also potentially receive the same award every year for the duration of her school program. It is no surprise that Jill is stepping forward to offer an award that is quite different. She has been a trailblazer throughout her entire career.
Not only was she British Columbia’s first female Deputy Minister in 1981, she was also the founding Chair of the Securities Commission. Then, in the private sector, Jill worked for a decade as a partner in the international firm of Ernst & Young, and continues to serve on corporate and community boards, including Westport Innovations and Vancouver Opera. Jill has also been honoured with the Governor General’s Canada 125 medal, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association of Women in Finance, and named a YWCA Woman of Distinction. But with all her great success, Jill has also faced personal challenges that resulted from her own addiction. Now 17 years sober, she credits the support of friends and family in helping her to face her addiction and seek treatment. As part of that process she also discovered the Avalon Recovery Society. “Avalon was an amazing place for me,” says Jill. “Here I was able to meet a wonderful community of women who had been where I had been.” It was also at Avalon where Jill was reminded about the power of education and how it could transform someone’s life. By creating this award, Jill wants to give hope and help women in recovery reach their goals while positively impacting their own future and that of their families. “When we’re in addiction we have a huge ripple effect on the people in our lives, but in recovery we also have a huge ripple effect.”
Q: Why did you chose the name “Jill’s Family Education Award”? A: In recovery we have a saying that we have the family we were given but we also have the family that we choose. I really wanted to honour my own family as well as my recovery family.
Q: What would you say to a woman suffering from an addiction who is reading this interview? A: There is hope. You can be at the worst point in your life but you don’t have to stay there. Not only is there the hope of getting over the addiction, but also, that your life can get better by leaps and bounds if you’re willing to do the work. It’s up to you as an individual to take the first step. Those of us suffering from addiction are all on an elevator going down, and it’s up to us where we get off – the door is always open. So, if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, there are many good people waiting to welcome you into recovery. As you get better from your sickness, you, too, will find you can build your dreams. And that is what Jill’s Family Education Award is about – the joy of nurturing our talents, so we can be of service to our family and to our community.
Q: What is the secret to your success? A: That I have said yes to things that many other people would have said no to.