Blog

Spring Recipe from The Organic Box

The Organic Box provides hundreds of dollars’ worth of produce to our kitchens every week. They have also shared their passion for helping our youth with their Food Family initiative, which leads to donations of almost $13,000 annually.

Oven-Roasted Root Crops with Chicken

  • 8 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 8 ounces potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces romanesco broccoli, trimmed to similar pieces
  • 6 shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths, thick ends halved lengthwise
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried, divided
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary or 3/4 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2.5-3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 475 degrees. Toss brussels sprouts, potatoes, shallots, carrots, garlic, oil, 2 tsp fresh thyme, 1 tsp fresh rosemary, sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper together in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. In a small mixing bowl stir together melted butter, remaining 2 tsp fresh thyme, remaining 1 tsp fresh rosemary, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place vegetables in a single layer on an 18 by 13-inch baking sheet, arranging brussels sprouts in the center. Place chicken, skin side up, on top of vegetables, arranging thighs around the perimeter of the sheet. 
  4. Brush chicken with herb butter. Roast until thighs register 175 degrees, 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through roasting.
  5. Remove sheet from oven, tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter or plates. Toss vegetables with pan juices, season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to platter or plates and serve warm.
Read more

YESS Art Connections Program Empowers Youth

In February we hosted ART at ARC: Stories of Resilience, Strength & Creativity, the youth art show and sale to celebrate the artwork created by youth in the YESS Art Connections Program. There were over 80 pieces of original art in 8 types of media and up to 100 pieces of printed art! This program is an important part of helping youth on their journeys towards healing, providing them with a safe space to express themselves and work through their trauma through the power of art. Their guide to exploring their creativity is Svitlana Kravchuk, art program facilitator. Svitlana is a multidisciplinary artist, mainly concentrating on painting, mixed media, and performance art.

“I feel like there are a lot of talented young people in our community who have a lot of passion and creativity that should be shared with others,” says Svitlana. “I wanted to be a part of their support system through making art together and finding way to visually express and communicate what might be going on for them.”

Portrait of Svitlana by Jeremy Vanderweide

“Often when youth are traumatized, the first piece of them to disappear is their voice; being able to speak their truth, say what they feel, identify what scares them and reach out for help,” says Jessica Day, Director of Program Innovation at YESS. “When a youth is silenced through trauma, talking with a therapist or a friend or a youth worker can be intimidating and easier to just avoid, despite a system that pushes for youth to speak up and speak out. If youth do not have the tools to rebuild their voice, they will forever stay silent in their journey. Art and the art programming at YESS have been an incredible outlet for youth to begin to build a relationship with their feelings and their thoughts. It is a visual representation of their stories, their emotions, and their world view, and it allows them to see positive and healthy responses to their expressions. Art gives them back their voice and reinforces that their voice is important and beautiful.”

There are a lot of new experiences to come in the Art Connections Program with Svitlana at the helm. In April there will be a workshop with spoken word artist Buddy Wakefield. Buddy is a three-time world champion spoken word artist who will also be performing at Underneath the Stars, the 2019 YESS Gala for Youth.

Our partner in sharing this love of creativity with our youth is Simons, who have generously supported the YESS Art Connections Program for severalyears. Simons is committed to celebrating arts and culture in all their diversity and beauty. Yvonne Cowan, Director of Store Operations in Edmonton, is very proud of how Simons champions the young artists and supports the Art Connections Program at YESS.

“Our continued commitment and support of the Art Connections Program at YESS is truly an honour for us at Simons,” says Yvonne. “Art evokes emotions, inspires conversations, and creates community. You can’t help but be inspired by these talented youth who take us on remarkable spiritual journeys. Their ability to convey messages of hope and healing in an honest, genuine, and pure form is courageous.”

The Art Connections Program also gives youth the opportunity connect with other artists, cultures, and communities.

“What I am most looking forward to is inviting Indigenous artists as well as other artists who represent our communities to share their own stories, knowledge, and experiences through art,” says Svitlana. “I’m hoping to engage more youth and more professional artists in the program, helping youth to be proud of their work and motivated to continue with their artistic endeavours.”

Svitlana uses her own art to explore concepts of displacement, trauma, and female experiences. She understands how art can be used as a powerful tool for expression and coping.

“Everyone’s experience is different. For me, art is a raw expression of heart, mind, and soul. Sometimes it can act as an emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual release and grounding. It can also act as an incredible communication tool that tells a story or reflects where the artist may be in their journey.”

Read more

Underneath the Stars at the 2019 YESS Gala for Youth

On Friday, April 26, guests joined us Underneath the Stars at the 2019 YESS Gala for Youth!

Guests arrived at the Edmonton Convention Centre and entered The Stars Align Foyer, a curated gallery full of youth art in a collaboration between YESS, iHuman Youth Society, and the Trinity Youth Project. There were installations, demonstrations where guests could create their own artwork, and there was a game with our own Trauma Care Team. Bethany and Marcia shared their expertise to teach guests how trauma affects the brain and body, and how the trauma-informed care model at YESS is helping youth heal.


Photos by Nancy Critchley Photography

The hall was transformed into a galaxy of stars, an awesome sight for everyone to behold as they entered. Thank you so much to our event planners at Foundry Conferences & Events and Invert 720 for the cosmic magic they created.

There were two raffle prizes available for guests to go starry-eyed over: 100 bottles of wine generously provided by Sherlock Holmes Hospitality Group, or a wellness package with items from Ballet Edmonton, the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, MC College, Prana Yoga Studio, SVPT Fitness + Athletics, Simons, and Too Fit Fitness.

We were excited to welcome back Ryan Jespersen as our gala emcee. As Ryan invited guests to put on their 3D glasses, the lights went out and the screen displayed an amazing animation of Earth and its place in the cosmos, to the narration of Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot.”

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan

Then Ballet Edmonton took the stage in a special performance to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” Under the direction of celebrated Canadian choreographer Wen Wei Wang, Ballet Edmonton has been the resident contemporary ballet company since 2012. The company pushes the boundaties of the traditional ballet aesthetic to allow for new, exciting physical vocabulary to emerge. Ballet Edmonton is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to artistic collaboration in the dance and arts communities.


Photos by Nancy Critchley Photography

After the ballet company, a single dancer took the stage. Mataya is a young Cree person from Calling Lake First Nation. She is currently attending Grade 12 at McNally High School and is a resident at Graham’s Place, on of YESS’ transitional residences. Mataya performed the Jingle Dress Dance, a traditional healing dance of many Indigenous peoples. Women and girls who perform the Jingle Dress Dance often pray for healing of loved ones. This dance gives people strength through emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual struggles. Mataya started dancing when she was 7 years old and she is looking to continue practicing powwow and travel across Turtle Island sharing her healing dance with other.

“Mataya feels as though there is yet a lot of healing to be done, not only in her personal life, but also healing of her family members and of our whole community altogether. When she hears the beat of the drum, it makes her heart beat faster—it makes her happies and takes the heaviness off her shoulders, like the rain washing away the pain.”

After these performances, Ryan welcomed Mayor Don Iveson to the stage. He shared a message of hope and gratitude to all organizations that are walking beside youth and the community that supports them. “Things are getting better for kids thanks to you and thanks to staff and thanks to people who make events like tonight possible… Making sure we uplift every Edmontonian, making sure no one gets left behind.”

After dinner was served, YESS President & CEO Margo Long took the stage to share with guests what has been happening this past year at YESS.

“A sense of community cannot occur when we view traumatized youth as “them.” They are not “them,” they are us. It requires every one of us to empathize and walk beside those who are in pain. Play a part in the power of connection and healing.

“Our youth are kind, they are brilliant, they are creative, they are hilarious, and they are tough as hell, and they’ve been hurt so very badly let’s invest in a future that is rich with their contribution and their voices.”

Margo Long, YESS President & CEO

Margo also shared information on the return on investment our supporters are part of when they donate to YESS. It costs $6000 to support one youth at YESS for a year and last year we saw over 800 youth in our programs—including shelter, trauma-informed care, access to counselling, life skills resources, and more. It costs $112,000 to support an adult entrenched in homelessness and addiction. Programs for youth trauma and homelessness are truly an integral part of diverting people out of homelessness at a crucial time in their lives and create a community where everyone can feel safe and supported and heal together.

Photos by Nancy Critchley Photography

Three-time world champion spoken word artist Buddy Wakefield took the stage to share a series of poems about honesty, forgiveness, and healing. Buddy is not concerned with what poetry is or is not and delivers raw, rounded, disarming performances of humour and heart. “Forgiveness is for anyone who needs safe passage…” Many guests were deeply touched by Buddy’s words and gave him a standing ovation.

In the grand finale, international stars and local talent The Melisizwe Brothers took the stage. Their charisma was undeniable, and there is something so special about youth supporting youth. This talented group of brothers has been featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show, New Year’s Eve at New York Times Square in front of over 1 million people, America’s Got Talent, and provided lead vocals on the Netflix series Motown Magic.

After an exciting live auction with incredible packages from Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company, Central Mountain Air and The Cloutier Family, Impark and the Edmonton International Airport, Giselle Denis Fine Artist, WestJet and Suzanne & Michael Dudey, and Workshop Eatery, Knight Group Real Estate, and Paul Woida, the starry evening came to a close. Guests were invited to join us at the gala afterparty at Revel Bistro & Bar!

Thank you so much to all of the guests, sponsors, donors, performers, and volunteers who joined us Underneath the Stars at the 2019 YESS Gala for Youth! We hope you all experienced a sense of connection and community!

We are so excited to share that this year’s event raised $260,355 in support of YESS programs and services for youth who have experienced trauma!

We are so grateful for your support as we walk beside youth on their journeys towards healing and appropriate community integration.

A special thank you to our sponsors who made this event possible:

Read more