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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Clients shine bright at the 12th annual Suits Me Fine Fashion Show

May 12, 2016 - A continual hit with CAMH clients, staff and members of the community, the Suits Me Fine Fashion Show brought it for the 12th year running. Excitement was in the air as more than 450 people gathered in CAMH’s Sandi and Jim Treliving Gymnasium to celebrate 40 brave clients who took the stage in celebration of recovery. 

The Suits Me Fine Boutique, which has been providing CAMH clients with complimentary clothes and toiletries for nearly 20 years, hosts the event annually. Check out our highlight reel of the show.

Toshio does a little danceDressed to the nines with a top hat and cane, Toshio does a little dance for the cameras of CityNews.

“The title of this year’s show – See Me Shine – does a great job summing up the spirit of this yearly event,” said CAMH President and CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn. “Nothing could be more fashionable than the joy, confidence and courage that you’re going to see on display today.”

With members of the media on site, and Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker emceeing, it truly was a red carpet event.

One by one, clients took to the runway sporting their favourite outfits for a crowd of cheering supporters. With music, smiles and the occasional dance move accompanying every client’s walk, a tangible feeling of support and encouragement came over the room.

One client who was brave enough to take the stage was Salima, a CAMH outpatient taking part in the show for a second time.

“Last year was my first time in the fashion show,” she explained. “I was so nervous backstage, but when I got up there I felt at ease. It’s such a safe environment and I had so much fun, which is why I’m back this year.” 

Salima walks the runwaySalima walks the runway as she’s introduced by host Jeanne Beker.

Salima came to CAMH for help with substance abuse and depression just over four years ago. “I was sick and tired of being sick, and I wanted to be there for my kids,” she said. “When I stopped drinking, I began to lose a lot of weight and was introduced to the Suits Me Fine store.”

Working hard and taking advantage of the various services CAMH has to offer has moved Salima along on her recovery journey.

“Combatting multiple issues at once is a challenge,” said Dr. Jonathan Bertram, Salima’s physician in CAMH’s Addiction Medicine Service. “Putting one’s identity back together is a part of the process, and that includes reestablishing a feeling of self-esteem and self-worth.”

“My whole experience at Suits Me Fine has been such a big confidence booster,” Salima added. “It’s amazing, you know, because even two years ago I would never have imagined myself doing this, and now I’m doing it for a second time.”  

Alazar exudes confidenceAlazar exudes confidence in his all-black suit. “I never knew anything like this existed at CAMH before,” he said. “I struggled for a long time and I’m grateful for everything this place has done for me.”

As the event came to a close, Kim Bellissimo, VP of Human Resources and Organizational Development, took some time to thank Norma Mcdowall, Volunteer Coordinator at Suits Me Fine, for leading the charge in organizing such an outstanding event. 

“Keep on doing what you’re doing; it’s really quite brilliant and incredibly inspiring,” said host Jeanne Beker. “Thank you for letting me be a part of it today.”


Suits Me Fine coordinator Norma McDowall and Jeanne BekerSuits Me Fine coordinator Norma Mcdowall and special guest host Jeanne Beker.

To make a donation of new or gently used clothing items to Suits Me Fine, please email Norma Mcdowall. For more information, Suits Me Fine is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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