Homeless, unemployed and on welfare, Ginnie Woodley last year contemplated taking her own life.

Today, she’s starting a new one.

Woodley, 49, has returned to school for the first time in nearly 35 years for a women’s-only program in residential heating and air conditioning systems installation and repair at George Brown College.


A pilot project, the eight-month course is one of 10 funded through a $4 million provincial initiative aimed at helping abused, at-risk and impoverished women achieve economic independence.

The goal of the George Brown program is to train women in an in-demand skilled trade.

But along the way, Woodley, who before this course described herself as “technically challenged,” has seen her once-fragile self-confidence soar and her future prospects brighten.

“There’s nothing worse than feeling like a useless human being who has nothing to offer,” Woodley said of her despair last fall before being accepted into the program.

“To give someone a sense of self and feeling of worth, is priceless.”

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