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#tbt with Foster Park Brokers’ H4AN Team!

We are always happy to see new faces out at Homeless for a Night every year, but there’s something extra special about seeing people come back year after year. The Foster Park Brokers’ team “FPB Homies” has become an H4AN institution!

Here’s an interview with Mariina Heinonen, Partner and Human Resources Consultant at Foster Park Brokers Inc. that we shared last year. She has been the team leader of the FPB Homies for six years and has been participating in Homeless for a Night for 15 years!

Read what Mariina had to say about her experience with H4AN, and how she has turned it into a team-building initiative for her employees.

Q. What inspired you to participate in Homeless for a Night?

A. In 2000, YESS was our charity of choice for an organization that I worked for back then.  It was there that I met Deb Cautley and realized how important of a job YESS was doing. I grew up in the “inner city” and lived in low rental housing at the time (which is where the event is being held, believe it or not). There were a number kids that could have used this type of help/service from my community, but it was not an option back in the 70s. What YESS does is phenomenal and I truly feel that the work being done is so important.

Q. How many years have you and FPB been involved in Homeless for a Night?

A. This will be my 14th year!  In 2010 when I was campaigning at Foster Park Brokers, people started saying they wanted to be part of it…and the next thing I knew, we had a team! Our group recognizes the importance of giving back to our community and especially one that is local, in our backyard. Our president came out a couple of times as well and that speaks volumes!

Q. In 2014, your team, FPB Homies, raised $4932, surpassing your fundraising goal of $4000! How did you do it?

A. We asked through a company e-mail, Facebook, and Linkedin. We challenged each other to see who could raise the most funds. It also helps that our company matches personal donations up to 3 times. Some of us have had barbecues and invited their friends for a fee to raise money for the event. We have even had a change jar, but the best way is just to ask.

Q. How do you inspire your employees to get on board with H4AN and to raise pledges?

A. Our past participants mostly use e-mail and word-of-mouth. They love the event and have no problem talking about how great it is and what a worthwhile organization YESS is. For raising pledges we have a couple of advocates who really try to get the other team members to raise more money!

Homeless for a Night -Telus Field

Q. What is the most challenging part of H4AN?

A. The most challenging part can be staying warm sometimes–and the 6 am wakeup call!  It puts life on the streets into perspective–and let’s be realistic– we have it easy at H4AN!  It is hard to imagine what those kids go through every day  and especially when it is cold and not easy to find food or shelter. The city is not a pleasant place, especially at night and there are not very many safe places to go. We have tried to imagine what we would do if we did not have a homes to go to… where would a person stay or sleep? How would we find food? A lot of these kids don’t make the choice to leave home because it seems like a good idea: their circumstances dictate it. Our hearts go out to them and the challenges they face every day.

Q. What about your favourite part?

A. The best part is the seeing the number of people who participate. It is a great opportunity to meet others in the community who believe in the same thing we do. Hearing a former client’s perspective is thought-provoking and really drives it home. And the entertainment and fire pit are always an enjoyable part of the evening as well!

Q. How did FPB’s participation in H4AN strengthen your team and build camaraderie among your employees?

A. It really makes our folks realize how lucky they are… for their families, their careers, and the homes they have built. We have talked about our own upbringings… some good, some not so easy. It’s amazing how open people are about their lives and we really do learn a lot about each other (without judgement). It also gives us a common goal and that brings people together in ways that they normally might not. There are those who champion different things to do as well… play cards, toss a football around, etc. and that gets everyone in the group involved.

Q. How does being involved with this event align with the corporate culture at Foster Park Brokers?

A. Foster Park Brokers has always believed that family comes first, and if we can’t support something that really speaks to that… well then what is the point? FPB has proven that time and again to our folks who have had family crises. It is easy to give back to an organization that believes the value in this as well. They really believe in  these kids and continue to provide them with support and opportunities to move forward; whether that is finding a home within YESS or returning home to their family, it is the same belief we carry that family comes first.

Thanks to organizations like Foster Park Brokers Inc. and the efforts of the FPB Homies, YESS is able to support youth who are at risk and experiencing homelessness in Edmonton. You and your employees can help too! Involving your employees in giving back through Homeless for a Night is a great way to strengthen camaraderie among your team members while also helping youth facing difficult realities.

Register your team today!

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A Very Special Letter

Last week we received the most heartfelt message from a former YESS youth, sharing her story and all the amazing things that have happened to her since she left us. With your support, you are a part of stories like these–not just helping youth while they’re at YESS, but throughout their lives.

Hello,

I wanted to write to you guys to tell you a bit about how I have been doing. It has been almost 12 years since I was a client with YESS and I am sure many if not all of the staff that used to work there have moved on, but I feel it is important to give you an update.

I had a lot of troubles when I was growing up. I stayed in the SkY program (long-term residence) for a good while. The client care workers there supported me through a lot of my issues. Helped me get my self-harm under control, come away from substance abuse. I worked hard while I was there to be a better, healthier person, but it is because of the staff that I made it as far as I did.

Over the years I have had many ups and downs. I have regressed in some areas but I always fought my way back out. After a move across the country, I started fresh. I had a beautiful baby boy at 23, and he is now almost 6. Most importantly, after I had him I knew I needed to do more. I went back to school and obtained my high school diploma and then moved on to college.

 

This is the important part. Thanks to all the staff and all YESS did for me, my passion lays with helping others. I looked at many courses and none of them felt like home except for Social Services. I know in my heart and soul that this is where I am meant to be. I am meant to help others the way YESS once helped me; to advocate and fight for those who feel they can’t do so for themselves, the way YESS had done for me.

I have just finished my second year, and have one left to go before I graduate, but I have recently had the opportunity to work on a placement at an emergency shelter for women and children. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my education, to the point where I have applied for a casual position with them while I continue my education.

I felt it was important to write you, because as I have learned even in just the 4 weeks that I did my placement, the social services field is often a thankless one. It is draining, emotionally, physically, mentally; it is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had to do, next to motherhood (and I’m a single mom). Despite the fact that it is difficult and full of sad stories, there is always a success. Success can mean different things for different people, but for me, and for you guys, this success story ends with a strong, independent woman, with ever-lasting gratitude towards the staff at YESS for giving her a second chance, for believing she could be and do more, and for lighting the fire that gave her the passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

Thank you so much for everything you did for me and for what you continue to do for countless others. For being a parent, a friend, a light in the dark, a voice in the endless void. Thank you. Most importantly, thank you for the chance at life I would not have gotten, for the ability to know I can be more for my son, all of which I would not have without the guidance, care, and love YESS provided.

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An Adventure in Champion City | YESS Gala for Youth 2016

On April 22, guests of the YESS Gala for Youth entered the moody metropolis of Champion City, a place of back-alley villainy and high-flying heroics. Who would win the night in the battle between good and evil?

Guests arrived at the Renaissance Hotel and wove through the dark alleyways of Champion City to reach the super-secret soiree in the shadows. The Champion City alleys were the perfect place to mingle with Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman on the lookout for trouble. Prowling through the crowd were Catwoman and the Joker.

YESS Gala For Youth 2016 DecorThe elegance of themed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres contrasted with shady back alley dealings. The finest counterfeit Champion City Jewellery was on offer, and metropolis’ best libations were stashed in Lex Luthor’s Liquor Cabinet, sponsored by The Sherlock Holmes Hospitality Group. The Riddler offered the chance to beat him at his own game at the Riddle Wall, with prizes from Simons. Guests could also step right onto the cover of their own comic book at the photobooth provided by One Step Beyond Photography.

YESS Gala For Youth 2016 ActivitiesAt dinner, guests finally met their mysterious host: Lex Luthor himself, who claimed to be on the path to redemption and seeking a new place in society as a philanthropist. The Champion City skyline surrounded the ballroom, lit with spotlights of our sponsors’ own heroic logos in a presentation by Owen Brierley and Edmonton Digital Arts College. Tables were set in graphic black and white with the pop of colour of superhero-themed centrepieces, sponsored by Interpipeline.

YESS Gala For Youth 2016 Decor

René Cloutier of Nordic Mechanical Services, Presenting Sponsor of the YESS Gala for Youth, greeted and thankedguests on behalf of YESS. The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi brought greetings from the Prime Minister and offered powerful words on the unified effort required to end youth homelessness. The dynamic duo of Mayor Don Iveson and Honourary YESS Patron Sarah Chan praised the community of YESS supporters in Edmonton.

Deb Cautley, Executive Director of YESS, brought not a speech, but a story. The story of a boy who had been abused by his parents for fifteen years and finally thrown out of his home. He slept outside in a park near the house for five nights, then another two nights at the fence by the backyard. Finally he was allowed back in the house, only to be given a slip of paper with the address to youth shelter. For two months, YESS was this boy’s home. During the day he attended his first year of high school, and in the evening YESS staff helped him study and offered him support and counselling. It was the first time he felt like part of a family, the first time he had felt loved in years.

The boy of this story then took the stage: Jay Ball, General Manager of FC Edmonton. Jay offered words of encouragement to the youth of YESS and praised their resiliency and the strength each carried with them—strength that could grow with YESS’ help.

“There is much more to my story,” Jay said. “But I attribute my success as a human being to YESS. Walking through that door saved my life and gave me hope. It changed my story. Change your story and it can change your life.”

The ballroom erupted in applause for Jay’s bravery, wisdom, and strength. We are so grateful to have former YESS youth share their stories of hope and resiliency. Thank you so much, Jay, for sharing youth powerful words with our guests.

Even with Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman in attendance, our guests proved themselves to be the true heroes of the YESS Gala for Youth, raising over $60,000 during dinner to provide basic needs to youth who are experiencing homelessness and need it most. Over 60,000 meals are served in the Nexus shelter every year, and the amazing support of our guests will go a long way in making sure our youth can always find what they need at YESS.

The evening rolled on to the exciting live auction, emceed by the one and only Danny Hooper. Bidding took off faster than a speeding bullet on fantastic items like a trip for two to anywhere WestJet flies with all the EIA perks, paired with a condo rental at Big White Ski Resort (donated by René Cloutier, WestJet, and Edmonton International Airport), a trip for two to Yellowknife including flights, accommodation, and a golf package (donated by Canadian North, The Explorer Hotel, and the Yellowknife Golf Club), a barbecue dinner for 24 at the Sawmill Restaurant Group (donated by Tom Goodchild), and a masterpiece by Giselle Denis painted live at the gala!

YESS Gala For Youth 2016 Remarkable Moments

But the excitement wasn’t over yet. Lex Luthor took to the stage to reveal his whole bad guy-turned-philanthropist act to be a hoax! His fiendish ways still very much intact, Lex summoned his henchmen, the Joker and Catwoman, to rob the guests of their Champion City jewels. The villains ran rampant and Lex relished his victory—until Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman swooped in to save the day! They apprehended the villains and march them out of the ballroom to cheers from the crowd.

With our guests and their Champion City jewels safe and sound, Crystal Pearce from Hillberg and Berkmade a draw for much finer fare than back-alley baubles: jewellery sets from the collection at Hillberg and Berk.

The evening drew to a triumphant close with the sweet taste of dessert—white chocolate cranberry tart, avocado ice cream, and macaron with dark chocolate ganache, made possible by Dentons—and the rocking sound of Samantha King and The Retrofitz.

YESS Gala For Youth 2016 Sponsors

We would like to thank the superheroes of the YESS Gala for Youth: our sponsors, guests, donors, volunteers, and staff, for bringing this Adventure in Champion City to life. You helped us raise over $218,000, which will empower our youth on their journeys to brighter futures.

To see all the photos that were captured in Champion city, click here, or visit www.onestepbeyond.ca!

Thanks to all of our sponsors this year, including:

Presenting Sponsor: René Cloutier and Nordic Mechanical Services

Dinner Sponsor: Collin Bruce Mortgage Team

Silent Auction Sponsor: Canterra Hotel Suites

Live Auction Sponsor: Carlson Construction

Gift Sponsor: Crystal Glass

Welcome Sponsor: The Violet Chocolate Company

Dessert Sponsor: Dentons

Jewellery Sponsor: Hillberg and Berk

Centrepiece Sponsor: Interpipeline

Gift Bag Sponsor: MC College

WiFi Sponsor: SC Systems

Wine & Spirits Sponsor: Sherlock Holmes Hospitality Group

Event Photography Sponsor: One Step Beyond Photography

Audio Visual Sponsor: Inland AV

Printing Sponsor: Cowan Graphics

Decor Sponsors: River City Events

Accessory Sponsor: Simons

Projection Mapping Sponsor: Owen Brierley and Edmonton Digital Arts College

Outdoor Advertising Sponsor: Pattison

Venue: Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel,

Media: CityTV and Dinner Television, SONiC 102.9

Event Designer: Samantha Kelch, sk events

Volunteer Sponsor: Boston Pizza Northern Alberta

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