Blog

Canadian Western Bank Shares the H4AN Love

Canadian Western Bank is the proud presenting sponsor of the 15th Annual Homeless For A Night–in fact, they have been the presenting sponsor of H4AN for nine years! CWB has been a huge part of this amazing event that continues to bring the community together to support youth experiencing homelessness in Edmonton.

For this year’s milestone event, we sat down with Lacey Jansen, Community Investment Coordinator at CWB, to share the #H4AN love!

What inspired Canadian Western Bank to participate in Homeless for a Night?

CWB is committed to connecting with and supporting youth in the communities where we operate. We want young people to succeed and Homeless For A Night allows us to not only support YESS’ efforts with local at-risk youth, but also to help members of our community gain perspective on the difficult realities faced by these teens on a daily basis.

How many years have you and CWB been involved in Homeless for a Night?

CWB is proud of our long-standing relationship that first started about a decade ago. We’ve donated nearly $500,000 through various initiatives, sponsorships and employee matching grants, and have been the presenting sponsor for H4AN since 2007.

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

Our employees have told us that they greatly value the work that YESS does in our community, and so we have people that come out and participate year after year. We also have a culture based on values that include integrity, respect and caring – these are all qualities that our people have and so giving back in the community is something that they want to do. I think knowing how YESS is so important for a young person going through a difficult time or faced with situations out of their control, is enough of an inspiration for employees to get involved. But it also helps that H4AN is a really unique experience. Not many people can say they’ve camped out in TELUS field, in the middle of the city. At the end of the day, our employees are just great at getting out to our community initiatives whether that’s fundraising for a cause or volunteering their time.

What is the most challenging part of H4AN?

I think the event really is about coming together to learn about what local youth are experiencing, but also to say to ourselves “I can help change this.” So the challenge then is in how we can make an impact once we leave the event.

What about your favourite part?

Hands down, the best part of the evening is the sharing of stories from the people who have been positively affected by YESS. Seeing these young people flourish and taking a different path for their lives is so heart-warming and inspiring. Just knowing we’re all there, forgoing some of our comforts, for the same mission – to help youth in our city.

How does CWB’s participation in H4AN strengthen your team and build camaraderie among your employees?

It definitely helps to bring us together. We have 8 branches and our corporate office in Edmonton and surrounding areas, and so it’s an opportunity to bring together people that we don’t often get to see and to do something meaningful together. I’d definitely encourage other businesses to sign-up a team – it’s the kind of experience that will leave people talking and sharing stories for years

Read more

A Big Milestone for H4AN!

This year we are hitting the milestone of the 15th Annual Homeless For A Night event in support of YESS! Of course there have been changes over the years: the event has changed venues, changed entertainment, staff has changed over—since it started, we have even changed our name! We have watched this event grow: we see new faces at the event year-after-year, hear new stories about what inspired new participants to give to YESS.

But some of the most amazing parts of Homeless For A Night are those that stay the same. Seeing familiar supporters every year who are so dedicated and so dear to us. Hearing the voices of people united for a common cause. Watching a community sleep outside so hundreds of youth don’t have to.

Of course, the experience of Homeless For A Night comes nowhere close to being on the streets. We would not want to create that experience for anyone. We would not want to shatter the bonds between people and their parents, ruin their childhoods. We would not want to take their education or their school experiences away from them. We would not want to make them watch their friends turn away from them. We would not want them to starve or turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of such profound loneliness.

Because that is what homelessness looks like. Those are the things that cannot be fixed just by placing a roof over someone’s head. Those things need more care: counselling, guidance, trust, love, hope. The things that YESS provides to youth who show up at our doors.

All we can do is invite people to step outside their comfort zones and imagine a life with far less luxury. And remind them over and over again to imagine a little more, teach them what homelessness means beyond not having a house or a bed to sleep in.

2 (2)

A lot has changed about Homeless For A Night over the years, but the experience has remained the same. Just one night talking about the harsh reality of youth homelessness among a group of like-minded people who want to make a difference can change the world. It certainly changes the lives of youth who come to YESS and find the programs and resources Homeless For A Night participants support.

These 15 years would not have been possible without you. To our participants—new, long-lasting, one-timers—to our sponsors throughout the years, to all the volunteers who make the event possible, to all the friends, family, coworkers, teammates of participants who have contributed through pledges…

THANK YOU

You have given youth who have had the odds stacked against them for most of their lives a chance to change their stories. That is what we do and what Homeless For A Night is all about.

We invite you to #FighttheNight with us, to fight against youth homelessness, to be part of changing the stories of hundreds of young lives every year. You can find out more at HomelessForANight.YESS.orgToday is the last day to register if you want to participate in the 15th Annual Homeless For A Night!

Read more