Donor Spotlight: The Collin Bruce Mortgage Team & SONiC 102.9

The Collin Bruce Mortgage Team

Collin, Janel & the team at Collin Bruce Mortgage Team have had profound impact with their philanthropic commitment over the past 10 years. As passionate advocates and ambassadors for our youth in the community, the Collin Bruce Mortgage Team has helped to strengthen the futures of our youth through their many creative and generous avenues of support. With television and radio commercials, they have been instrumental in raising awareness of the challenges our youth face. Their benevolence has extended to major financial support, Christmas gifts for the youth celebrating the holidays at YESS, and they have generously matched support for fundraising initiatives at SONiC 102.9.

For the past 17 years, SONiC 102.9 has been serving our community and bringing people together with their annual Halloweenie Roast! With their partnership with the Collin Bruce Mortgage Team, they continue to raise awareness and show immense support to the youth accessing YESS programs. Be sure to tune in for all the best of Edmonton and hear about great upcoming fundraisers they host including the Abandoned Shopping Carts of YEG Calendars.

 

“SONiC is Alternative Edmonton, which means we love this city and want to support our community. YESS does fantastic, life-changing work and they are deserving of everyone’s support.” – SONiC 102.9

 

“We are proud supporters of YESS. These are kids, put in horrible situations. I can’t imagine what would happen to these youth if it wasn’t for YESS. This is why it is so incredibly important to support YESS and why we will continue to do so.” – Collin Bruce

 

The Abandoned Shopping Carts of YEG calendars are currently in their fifth year! It began as a silly topic on the radio to collect photos of abandoned carts around the city, but quickly grew into an awesome charity initiative supporting YESS! The calendars contain listeners’ photos, alternative album anniversaries, and rock star birthdays, and are printed locally at Print Machine.

Order yours online at sonic1029.com or pick one up at TGIF on Gateway Boulevard!

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National Philanthropy Day 2022: TELUS

YESS is honoured to recognize TELUS for their dedication in transforming the lives of youth experiencing homelessness. With their years of philanthropic commitment TELUS has been a pivotal support for youth to address trauma and have the resources they need to focus on healing. TELUS’ passion for community is exemplified in their annual TELUS Days of Giving and numerous employee engagement efforts. TELUS Community Ambassadors lend their support in ensuring youth have memorable holidays at YESS. Since 2000, the TELUS team and retirees have contributed over $430,000. Additionally, the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation through the Edmonton Community Board also contributed $72,000 in grants since 2005. Their generosity continues to make a profound impact on youth through the essential programs at YESS. Thank you to TELUS for being a pillar of support as we focus on breaking the cycle of youth homelessness.

 

“We believe that good business and doing good go hand-in-hand and are incredibly proud to be able to leverage our resources, time, and compassion to make a difference in our communities. Through our give where we live philosophy, since 2000, TELUS, our team members, and retirees have provided more than $1.4B in cash, in-kind contributions, time, and programs and volunteered 1.8 million days to charities and community organizations in our local communities—just like YESS. It is an honour to support the meaningful work of YESS who are not only helping to transform the lives of youth experiencing homelessness but also helping to make the world a better place.” – Jill Schnarr, Chief Social Innovation and Communications Officer, TELUS 

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The Impact of Art

Madeline LeBlanc (b.1998) is a playful artist whose practice consists of drawing, dress-up, film, and painting. Creating in the spur of the moment is how she likes to work best. Her mission as an artist is to create good art that invokes a sense of play, curiosity, nostalgia, or wonder. She creates work from commonly found materials (e.g. bedsheets, pencils, common craft paint, etc.) addressing issues of affordability and exclusiveness in the art world. 

Photo courtesy of Madeline LeBlanc

Madeline has exhibited her work at The Art Gallery of Alberta, The Works International Art & Design Festival, Latitude 53, and various arts organisations. 

She was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to attend Mason Gross School of Arts BFA program at Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) by American painter Marc Handleman and is a 2022 nominee for the Canadian Sobey Art Award by the University of Alberta Art and Design Department, Aiden Rowe. 

What was your experience on your journey from art classes at ARC to professional artist?

The journey has been a series of unexpected twists and turns (in the best way!). Having my start with art through YESS prepared me for the realness of being an artist as I created with and apprenticed the practice of the YESS artist-in-residence [at the time], Allison Tunis. 

Allison Tunis (left) and Madeline LeBlanc (right) in front of Madeline’s painting which will be hand-embroidered by Allison in a collaboration for Allison’s “Untitled Chronic Illness Project 2021-22

Allison and I had many conversations about art over workshops she held at the Armoury. Learning about her experience from being an art grad to slowly becoming a full-time artist was valuable because I got to learn the ins-and-outs of how to successfully pursue art as a career. Allison taught me how to write art applications and through her I became aware of art organisations in the city. I was lucky to have my first art show with YESS and grateful for the opportunity to take professional art courses through the YESS scholarship program. These opportunities gave me the confidence to be independent.

I do not think I would have had an opportunity of stability and resources in my life to practice art had it not been for YESS. Pursuing art at YESS was meaningful because I got to learn to be myself. I felt a level of support and encouragement that I had not experienced before. The opportunity to be something more than I was came with having access to daily meals, shelter, art supplies, and the direction of Allison and the team.

What is one thing you wish the community knew about youth who access YESS?

There’s a lot of hope. 

I think that sometimes when I tell people that I stayed at YESS they feel sorry for me; although, I don’t look at my time there like that. To me I have a better life because I stayed at YESS. It wasn’t a “step-down” it was a steppingstone to me being able to create a better life. I had a team of people believing in me and cheering me on. I’m thankful for the experience. 

What’s in store for the future?

Curtains! I am working on creating my own line of homeware goods. Turning my artwork into curtains, pillows, duvets, colouring books, and wall art. I’m in the middle of prototyping fabrics and designs. It is fun reimagining how my art is interacted with by giving it a function “off- the-wall” so to speak. 

Madeline’s work with curtains and a mock-up of duvet design “Lita”           

We are excited to share the announcement of a limited-edition art print release from former YESS youth, Madi LeBlanc, who has chosen to partner with YESS for a percentage of proceeds from this sale! This partnership not only supports the valuable work that YESS does for the community, but also showcases the talent and creativity of Madi.

The art prints being released feature original artwork created by Madi while she stayed at YESS, showcasing the power of art as a form of healing and self expression. By purchasing one of these limited-edition prints, you not only receive a unique work of art, but also contribute to the ongoing support and empowerment of our youth with proceeds going to both YESS programming and Madi.

There are six prints to choose from printed in a run of ten copies. Each artwork is printed on archival watercolor paper, hand signed by Madi, and contains a certificate of authenticity.

Join us in supporting Madi and the youth who currently access YESS programming by purchasing one of these exclusive prints.

Portfolio | madelineleblanc.com

Shop | makingmadi.com

Instagram | @makingmadi

LinkedIn | Madeline LeBlanc

 

                                          

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Journeys of Change and Empowerment

Being on the Board of Directors for YESS, I have had significant exposure over the past three years to the important work that YESS is doing to support Edmonton’s youth, and every time I hear of new initiatives or specific impacts of their work, I am overwhelmed with passion. With a mission to walk beside traumatized youth on their journeys towards healing and appropriate community integration, the opportunity is tremendous, yet complicated.

YESS works collaboratively within a network of care focused on the prevention of youth homelessness. They do this by providing youth with the necessary supports to stabilize their housing, improve their wellbeing, build life skills, connect with community, and avoid re-entry into homelessness. It’s not just about emergency shelter, but so much more. YESS strives to meet youth where they are at and works with them to build a trauma-informed support plan that the youth can understand and own themselves.

Now, outside of my work with YESS, I spend my work life managing change within organizations, and as such have learned a lot about the psychology of how people move through change. It’s most often not straightforward or smooth, and never the same for two people.

I’d like to introduce one model developed by Prosci, a global organization committed to the development and education of change management methodologies and tools. It’s called the ADKAR Model, and it represents the five outcomes every individual needs to achieve for change to be successful. In other words, this model outlines the stages of change that people go through as they adopt change. ADKAR, in its simplest terms, is defined as:

  • The first “A” stands for awareness, meaning understanding what needs to happen is the first step in moving an individual through change.
  • The “D” represents desire, which suggests that the next step in an individual’s change journey is why they should change, otherwise known as “what’s in it for them.”
  • The “K” indicates the stage where knowledge comes into play, and individuals learn how to make a change.
  • The second “A” speaks to an individual’s ability to implement new skills and behaviours towards changing.
  • Last, the “R” represents the reinforcement required to make a change stick, or what’s needed to sustain a change.

I share with you this model because I think it helps understand youth’s journeys, as well as YESS’ approach to support. The idea behind the model is that people need to move through each stage at their own pace, step by step. Each person spends more or less time within each phase based on their own experiences and abilities. Consider the last change you went through—was it exactly the same for others around you?

And what I have learned in my time working with the YESS team is that the path each youth takes is not clear, straight, simple, or short. It is indeed an individual journey, and when we try to leverage a standard one-size-fits-all model, we fall short. We need to make space for our youth to build trust and find safety in working with YESS, allow them to create their own goals, and craft their own plan to achieve those goals.

And here’s where we see impact: YESS has already created a support model that allows youth to be in charge of their own plan, focusing on what is important to them and allowing the right amount of time to process as they need—an approach that takes time and energy beyond what a one-size-fits-all model might require.

So, putting that into the context of the ADKAR Model, YESS is already doing their part to support youth in their individual change journeys towards healing and community integration, allowing them to address their own unique barriers, in their own time.

Part of why I become a Board Trustee is because I hope we, as a community, can do the same. What I’ve learned through stories of youth who access YESS is that the change process is different for everyone, and every time I think I understand these youth’s experiences, I learn something more. Their journeys are evolving, and so are the perceptions of the community. People are starting to understand the impact of trauma-informed structure and processes, and I am honoured to be part of YESS’ contribution to this awareness building.

From the YESS team: It is our belief that if we give youth safe space, consistent and non-judgemental support and teaching, and the time to choose their own path to success, we can prevent further entrenchment into the cycles of trauma and homelessness.

How can we as a community continue to show up and find new ways to support youth in their unique journeys?

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Meeting Youth Where They’re At

Tell us about yourself and your position at YESS.

My name is D’orjay Jackson. I am a Black, queer, gender non-conforming Shaman, country music singer/songwriter, and the Programming Coordinator at YESS. I have been practicing energy medicine for almost 15 years and I am a full mesa carrying Shaman (Munay Ki), Pranic Healer, and I am a Buddhist Practitioner of Rimay tradition within the Vajrayana lineage and carry forward empowerments bestowed upon me by my Guru into my healing and creative practices.

I started volunteering with YESS in 2017 at events and then shifted to offering my Shamanic services to the youth through volunteer programming and have now transitioned to being employed at YESS in the role of Programming Coordinator.

I am responsible for organizing recreational programming as well as cultural programming and supports, so anything from going swimming to connecting with an elder to learn traditional practices, I am the person that organizes and facilitates that. I also do things like navigate other volunteers that want to come and provide services here (like I used to do!), so organizing them, setting up the logistics, and communicating the programming to the staff and the youth. For example, coming up we have a weekly yoga class starting in October, or our pet therapy friends who bring in different animals to connect with the youth every month. I am currently working on setting up regular music programming and some other fun things! I am the one who builds the ARC rec calendar! 

I also work actively with building partnerships and connections with other agencies that work with at-risk youth in the city. I am on the steering committees for YEG Youth Connect and A4 Youth Convention and I also meet with and collaborate with other agencies to work on programming together to create more opportunities for the youth to be in community with each other across the city! I just met with Treaty 8 Urban Youth Agency and we are planning a joint ribbon skirt making class for November!

I provide one-on-one services to the youth here as well so they can access me for mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness support, which can be tailored to what the youth’s needs are in that moment. Sometimes we might do a full shamanic session with a guided journey, other times it’s more dialogue-centered while utilizing divination and writing tools, or teaching the youth about how our brains, bodies, and souls all work together, and supporting them with new tools to be in right relationship with those aspects of themselves. Other times as goals and dream arise in a session, that can turn into me supporting them by helping with connecting to them to other resources we or other agencies provide, helping them in artistic projects (even assisting in writing and applying for grants for said artistic projects) or maybe even just sending an email on their behalf because they are struggling that day, or driving them to an appointment so they are not alone. 

What does it mean to “meet youth where they are at”? How is this philosophy practiced in YESS programs?

To me, meeting youth where they are at means that we are making sure we are creating space for them to feel autonomous, and as much as possible it means following their lead and really making sure that we are working hard at setting down any subconscious and conscious bias that we have around what our youth are experiencing (marginalized intersections of identity, addiction, houselessness, gang activity, violence, and other traumas). Meeting them where they’re at is also understanding that we don’t always know what is best for the youth and ensuring we are creating space to empower them to guide us to what is best for them and then do everything we can to support them to self-actualization. How I apply that at YESS with the youth is being inquisitive and as disarming as possible (sometimes sugar is a great icebreaker!) and seeing how they might feel best supported in that moment. Sometimes they just need to come and have some quiet time in my office or playing a game of pool with them, connecting them with some fun little gemstones and rocks, helping them build a medicine bundle for themselves, or walking them through a guided meditation or breathing exercises. Sometimes just kind of shooting the breeze with them and sharing a joke for a few minutes is all it takes for them to feel seen and valued. Whatever it is, I let them LEAD!

What is something you wish the community knew about youth who access YESS?

I wish the community knew that the youth who access YESS belong and that they are just as important a part of our community as anyone else! I think for me specifically, what I see so much of that I can’t wait to help educate the community on, is how many incredible creative beings we have here! There’s so much talent here raw and refined alike that I just feel is not being showcased fully yet, and so definitely a big goal I have while I’m working here is to share that!

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A Huge Thank You to the Edmonton Civic Employees Charitable Assistance Fund!

The Edmonton Civic Employees Charitable Assistance Fund (ECECAF) donated $34,000 to our recent project of renovating the laundry room and bathroom space in Graham’s Place, one of our supportive housing programs.

The remodeling of Graham’s Place bathroom space and laundry room has provided a comfortable home-like environment for youth to thrive and achieve their personal goals. The new laundry room has provided a sustainable way for our staff to teach life skills, and the remodeled bathrooms have created a space of self-care and privacy. The new setup for bathrooms has also taken away the notion of gendered bathrooms and has created a safe and neutral environment for all.

 

Tell us why you choose to support YESS?

YESS is a locally based, grass-roots organization that aligns with many of the values ECECAF strives to uphold. We recognize the desperate situation of traumatized youth in Edmonton and applaud the tireless dedication by YESS to mitigate and heal this issue. We especially realize the importance of supporting youth as they are our future.

 

How does ECECAF give back to the community?

ECECAF gives back to the community by helping our contributing members to help others on a larger scale through collective donations.

We choose to support local organizations which in turn tend to support the community we live in, our members, their families, and their neighbours.

 

Why is it important for ECECAF to support the community?

With our motto being “Impacting Lives and Promoting Healthy Communities,” ECECAF was formed in 1941 to address three main concerns: 

  • To contribute to the comfort of military patients in Edmonton hospitals
  • To provide assistance to soldiers and their families during WWII
  • To give financial assistance to charitable and welfare organizations formed for the purpose of scientific research into the causes and cures of diseases

We still believe that by helping those in our community who need help the most, we help the entire community in turn.

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Spotlight on the Youth Education and Employment Program

The YESS Youth Education and Employment Program provides youth between the ages of 15–24 with skills and knowledge to help them identify career goals, access job-specific training, and learn job readiness skills like cover letter writing and interview skills.

This year, we are so grateful for the support of The Home Depot Canada Foundation and their grant of $150,000 in support of the Youth Education and Employment Program! The Home Depot Canada Foundation is committed to preventing and ending youth homelessness in Canada. Together with community partners across the country, they work to remove barriers, break cycles of inequity, and enable at-risk youth facing homelessness to achieve positive development outcomes and realize their full potential.

 

Staff at the Skyview, South Common, Westmount, and Windermere Home Depot locations with The Home Depot Canada Foundation grant amount of $150,000 in support of YESS

 

We talked to YESS staff members Caitlin Parker, Karley Spelrem, and Juwayriya Abdullahi, who run and support the Youth Education and Employment Program, about what they see youth learn and achieve in this program.

 

Describe your role at YESS!

Caitlin and Juwayriya: We are the Employment Coordinators. We facilitate the Youth Education and Employment Program. Before the program begins, we provide information to youth about what the program entails and complete the intake for each of the youth who are interested. We also reach out and form connections to agencies throughout Edmonton to support the youth during their placements. During the program, we teach youth for three weeks about life skills that can help them obtain employment. An example of this would be discussing employability skills and mental health. After this takes place, each of the youth complete the 12-week employment/practicum portion of the program. We support both the youth and the employers throughout these weeks. Finally, we work with the Transitional Worker to form a plan for what comes next after each youth has completed the entire 15-week program.

Karley: I am the Transitional Worker at YESS where I work with our Supportive Housing Program to transition youth out of our group homes and into independence. I also work with community youth as well as Children Services youth to transition them into our group homes. I support youth in the Youth Education and Employment Program with their transition out of the program, whether that is getting hired onto to work full-time or finding alternative job placements that work with their schedules.

 

Describe the Youth Education and Employment Program.

The Youth Education and Employment Program is a 15-week program that assists youth between the ages of 15-24 with building skills to enter the workforce. The first three weeks entails in-class lessons with the Employment Coordinators where the youth learn life skills such as resume building and how to be successful in an interview. Following that, the youth are placed with an employer for 12 weeks while being provided with the support needed to ensure they are successful at their work placements. Finally, a transition plan is created to provide the youth with a clear path for what their life will look like after the employment program is complete.

 

What are the training/opportunities/outlets that this program provides for youth who access YESS?

The Youth Education and Employment Program provides youth with three weeks of in-class training, followed by 12 weeks of work experience at a place of employment. Youth are trained in basic safety courses such as First Aid and food safety, as well as employment-specific training by obtaining licensing, that is required by employers at their work placements. Youth are led through different courses during the initial 3 weeks which include employment skills, mental health, sexual awareness, and finances. The program supports youth in their placements of choice by seeking to eliminate barriers that might cause inconsistency.

 

How is this program part of the YESS mission to walk beside youth on their journeys towards healing and appropriate community integration?

Within our Youth Education and Employment Program we provide youth with training on mental health, relationships, boundaries, advocacy, health and safety, basic hygiene, cooking skills, etc. We prioritize the first three weeks to class time where we enhance each of these skills before entering the workplace. We also ensure the youth are housed or have housing set up prior to attending the program to eliminate any barriers while in the work field. With this wraparound support from Employment Coordinators and Transitional Workers, we are able to ensure the success of each youth after the eight-week mark of completing our employment program.

 

What is one thing you wish the community knew about youth who access YESS?

Juwayriya: The youth who access YESS did not choose to experience the barriers they face. They are survivors who are fighting to break the cycle of violence and trauma they have been entrenched in. They are inspiring because of their motivation to help improve their circumstances. They are resilient because they are persistent in their resolve despite setbacks.

The youth at YESS have experienced trauma throughout their lives, yet they are tenacious in their pursuit of healing, community integration, and reaching their full potential in life.

 


 

Thank you so much to the Youth Education and Employment Program work experience partners!

Atlantic Fence
Bottle Depot Windermere (Windermere, 3515 Allan Drive)
Bottle Depot Winterburn (West End, 21410 100 Ave)
Evergreen Recycling
FIND Edmonton
Habitat for Humanity – ReStore North
Habitat for Humanity – ReStore Sherwood Park
Habitat for Humanity – ReStore South
Habitat for Humanity – ReStore West
Little Caesars (McConachie Edmonton)
Pita Pit (104 Street NW, Whyte Ave)
YESS Kitchen

The Youth Education and Employment Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy

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Recipe for a Legacy: Find Your Passion, Share What You Love, Enrich a Life

Captured in the rhythm and warmth of the YESS kitchen is the heart and soul of a wholly talented and imaginative culinary team focused on the delivery of daily healthy meals for young people seeking respite and comfort.

Moments of gentle conversation and spontaneous laughter mingle together with the many sounds and nuances of this hub of activity: the rhythmic whisk and crunch of vegetables being peeled and chopped; the tap-tap-tap of aromatic herbs being minced; bubbling pots; the sizzle and bounce of oil on the grill; the clinking of cutlery and gentle clatter of dishes.

A beautiful medley of old, new, and shared experiences, mingle together to craft a beautifully delicious legacy of food, nutriment, and welcome.


MEET THE KITCHEN TEAM

“Legacy is defined as ‘something that is left or handed down by a predecessor.’ And so, what knowledge has been passed on to me that I am now bringing to YESS? Hello, I’m Ryan Little and I have been with YESS since January 2021. This past March, I assumed the role of Kitchen Team Supervisor. This is the story of my legacy and how I’ve applied it during my time at YESS.”

As a child, I was gifted with a love for cooking from my dad. He was always willing to try something new and recreate the meals that he had seen on one of his cooking shows. He loved sharing with others what he thought was good. I can remember big family meals that he had cooked for everyone, and it brought us together regularly. These values were ingrained in me from early on. When I started to help him, he would encourage me to “play with flavours” and “try everything at least once”. You never know that you do or do not like something unless you try it. It is a standard that I hold many people to, even to this day. Growing up in a rural Manitoba community allowed me to also learn a wide range of cultural foods from our neighbours. We would have perogy and cabbage roll making parties; we would share the Bannock that we made with others; and our community potlucks were another staple that grew my passion for food and cooking.

That is where it all started for me. Then, as a teen, I took a job in the kitchen at our local small-town diner and that passion continued. In my early 20’s, I went to culinary school and further refined my skills, focusing on flavours and playing with new and existing cuisines. Once I had finished there, I worked in steak houses, catering, hotels, Mexican, southern, east coast, fine dining… You name it. I have done it. All of this expanded my knowledge and continuously kept me passionate about my job. With the pandemic, I found myself – along with countless others – looking for a job. Then, YESS came along.

YESS has been a great learning experience for me. I have gotten to share my knowledge of food with the youth. I’ve even gotten to experiment with foods and flavours that I have not had the opportunity to work with before. In the kitchen, the food pantry is donation based, and we plan our menus according to what donations we have. We do purchase small amounts of food to supplement what we need to finesse the meals. We are open to all feedback, and regularly get feedback from the youth in attendance. There are times the youth do not love the food we offer, and that is okay. For me, the takeaway is that they tried it! We have also been able to do special requests for birthdays and other celebrations, and that allows us to get to play with food that we would not otherwise cook.

The legacy I bring to YESS is my knowledge of the different styles of cooking that I have done; the home recipes that my dad taught me; and the dishes taught to me by neighbours. I want to share all of that, and I want the youth to get to enjoy the foods I love. I want them to talk about the meals that we make, and for them to give us their opinions. Their opinions are very important to me and help me to continuously grow as a chef.

When the youth or I move on from YESS, I want my legacy to simply be that I shared what I loved. My hope is that the youth loved it as well and want to share it with others.


Greetings! I’m George Richter and I have been a YESS Kitchen Team Member since September of 2021. I feel that my defining legacy will be found in relationship building. I recall many favourite memories of food experiences that I have woven into meal preparation and cooking, so that it becomes one full experience for the youth.

Just recently, I had a steak dinner with my friends to celebrate a success with his work. There were laughs, smiles and great times. There are also those times where food is associated with bad memories. Memories of making ends meet, struggling with isolation, fearful of change or new experiences.

I think that our job as cooks is to create a positive space where the youth can be themselves and be able to get the essentials that they need to thrive as human beings.

Some foods may be triggering to youth or may be off limits with religious or dietary restrictions. We must face those challenges and be prepared for all kinds of curveballs we might face.

A personal story, linked to food, was when I first came to Edmonton. With no social circle and feeling isolated, I got a job at a Mexican restaurant. I made some great friends and learned how to make great tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. All those became the foods that brought me comfort.

From that job, I started having a social circle and started thriving more as an individual. I associate the process of my discovery of Mexican cuisine a lot with where my passion began, and I wish that to be my legacy to the youth. It could well be that they experience something similar – an unexpected friendship and connection when in a dark or unfamiliar time – and are able to turn that into the start of something positive.

Outside of food, I foster a culture of collaboration, positivity, and fun – which cannot be said for many places in hospitality. I find that the team we have here supports each other well and there is a comradery that I have not seen before joining YESS. It is my wish that this culture continues even after any of the kitchen team moves on and that we continue to strive for creating an inclusive space where we encourage everyone to do their best every day.


Hello, I am Damodar Manikyala, known as Reddy by everyone. I have been at YESS for the last three and a half years as a kitchen team member. Before joining YESS, I worked with many hotels, and restaurants, in addition to 10 years on cruise ships. Altogether, I have almost 20 years of cooking experience ranging from fine dining to batch style cooking.

My passion is cooking. I enjoy cooking food for others and playing with flavours, while at the same time, making nutritious food to keep us healthy. I believe in eating healthy food rather than spending money on medicine when we get sick.

Legacy for me is taking what I have learned through my experiences and sharing them with my colleagues. Teaching them the simple and easy methods of cooking that save time and energy while at the same time being delicious to eat.

Though we never get to meet youth directly, our prepared meals will make them talk about our food and the passion that we show towards the food to keep everyone healthy. That is the legacy I want to leave for them.

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D’Arcy’s Meat Market Shares the Love with the YESS Kitchen

We want to give a huge thanks to D’Arcy’s Meat Market for supporting youth in their community amidst all their other giving initiatives!

The partnership we have built with them continues to support our kitchen and provides nutrition for youth who access our programs. We talked to Kyle Iseke, owner of D’Arcy’s Meat Market, about why their team chose to give to YESS.


We had been looking for a few places that we could donate some meats as we had been very busy during this pandemic. Our team was staying safe and customers were very supportive. Earlier in the year we had donated a large order of ground beef to the St. Albert Food Bank and thought about finding a different place to send some meats and sort of spread the love around, especially because we have a location in Edmonton. When we started looking for a place, we found some were not accepting donations because of the pandemic. It was around this time YESS had reached out to us looking for help getting proteins and obviously the timing was great, but also YESS does wonderful work and has a great reputation for making a difference, so it was an easy choice to get on board.

I think in general D’Arcy’s Meat Market is giving back to the community by serving as a bridge between local livestock producers and consumers looking to purchase local meat. So much of what we consume these days comes from so far away and we believe that simply by using the amazing agriculture we have in this province we can support our economy, improve our food security, lessens the environmental strain caused by long haul trucking or flying in foods, and provide a more natural product that undergoes less processing. Of course, we also try to support causes like YESS, the Food Bank, SAIF (Stop Abuse in Families Society in St. Albert), and as many shelters, sports organizations, and silent auctions that we can afford.

Giving back to the community is very important because when we have a strong and well-supported society, I believe my business thrives. I also have two young children and I’d like to set a good example for them that, when possible, taking care of your neighbours is an important thing to do.

 

Photo credit: D’Arcy’s Meat Market team after they won the best sausage in Edmonton award / Photo courtesy of Kyle Iseke

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YESS Celebrates Indigenous History Month!

by Shantell Martineau, Programming Coordinator

 

Can you tell us about the Ceremony you just went on with the youth?

YESS was invited to bring Youth to the land for 6 days of Ceremony. It was a Fasting Ceremony. There was an opportunity to be of service and help. Helping roles looked like dishwashing, cooking the feast, chopping wood, set-up/take-down, and supporting the lodge helpers. The roles to fill provided access to knowledge, companionship, leadership, and growth opportunities for both the Youth and Staff. Entering the lodges, singing the songs, feeling the drums and rattles, feasting together, and hearing the teachings of the Ceremony were all accessible for Youth. Seeing Youth connect with Elder, be inquisitive, receive helper protocol, explore the land, and support each other along this journey was a gift. Learning along the way that Ceremony can be explored. Not everyone is ready to enter the lodge, but maybe sitting around the lodge and hearing the singing and prayers and teachings is enough. I personally learnt that meeting the needs and readiness is enough. 

What do you wish more people knew for Indigenous History Month?

I wish more people knew about the sacred connection Indigenous Peoples have with Mother Earth, with Creator, with Spirit, and with all Creation. Connection to ancestral lineage that gives strength and resiliency. I wish more people could see us as we see them, our relations, our brothers, our sisters, our equals. I wish more people could witness the natural learning we enter while we connect on the land. We gather with the land, we pray with the land, we celebrate and hold Ceremony for the land. I wish more people could understand and respect this truth. I wish more helpers step forward and support Indigenous Peoples right to advocate and to create spaces for this connection to grow stronger. I wish this help could be witnessed and felt every day of the year but starting with a Month is still a good way to grow.

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