Magic Wand Project

Living On Purpose

Graduation is an important time for a young person and wearing the right outfit to Grade 12 celebrations is an essential component of that rite.

While young people are making the transition from Grade 12 to adulthood, retirees are looking at their lives and asking what now? When Elizabeth Surerus retired from her university career, she had to make a decision. What would she do with her life in retirement?

She posed several questions: What is the need I can help fulfill? What are my strengths? What are my interests? What venue do I fit into best?

A strong woman with a bent for coordination and management, she decided it was time to strike out on her own and create a service for young people that met a need. Creating ‘The Magic Wand’ with a partner (who stayed with the project for a year and then moved on) became Elizabeth’s way of living life with purpose and giving back. Twenty-eight years later, she is still making a difference in many young people’s lives.

Three categories of students access her ‘borrow a graduation outfit (both gowns and suits or tuxedos) for that special day’ service. The student simply pays for the dry cleaning of the outfit after their graduation.

Some young people use her service because they have limited financial resources while others worry about the effect that buying new clothes and using them once has on the environment. A third group, and newer to Elizabeth’s service, consists of the many international students who are unprepared for this cultural event in our educational system.

Elizabeth has had several locations for her Victoria, BC clothing room: starting out, it was in a friend’s barn; a large room in her home; and now in a room of a friend’s home. She has many volunteers and, each spring, she has a publicity plan for local schools to get the word out to students. Once a student (or their parent) contacts Elizabeth, a one-hour consultation is booked. The student books dates to pick up their selection a few days before their graduation date and to return it after the celebration activities are over.

A red headed young lad arrived to find a blue suit that looked stunning on him. He mused that he wished he could also wear it to a job interview the week after graduation. Elizabeth agreed to allow him to keep it. Years later, at the funeral of Elizabeth’s husband, that young man attended to offer his condolences, wearing the blue suit.

Regularly Elizabeth sorts through the inventory. One dress she had earmarked for recycling because it had not been chosen for three years turned out to be the right colour, style and fit for a young woman that arrived just before the gown’s trip to the thrift shop.

As the young woman was admiring it in the mirror, she mentioned what a beautiful gown it would be for her upcoming music recital. The result was that not only did Elizabeth tell the young woman to keep the dress for recitals, but Elizabeth was invited to attend the event, which she readily accepted.

Having won awards and been thanked numerous times for the magic her service offers young graduates, Elizabeth has truly found a way to live on purpose and enjoy the rewards it brings.

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