Donor Spotlight: Monthly Giving

*this donor requested to remain anonymous


Tell us a bit about yourself!

Our family are born Edmontonians, derived from homesteader stock. I was gifted with the ability and means to achieve a professional career. I recognize that although I have always worked hard, I was granted a degree of privilege that was not evenly distributed in our society in the 1980s and 90s.

What inspired you to start giving to YESS?

We believe in the dignity of all lives, and we recognize that not all people are free to be their authentic selves. With the recent attacks on one segment of our youth… we felt the need to re-direct some of our support for social programs into more direct youth support. 

What made you choose monthly giving as your way to give?

I value simplicity. With monthly giving, I don’t have to think about the financial end again until I want to change the amount. It’s just easy.

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

I don’t pretend to be the expert on the youth. But I can say that people end up in horrifying circumstances for a variety of reasons, and our society needs to empower people to get out of bad situations—whether that is a choice to leave home for a more precarious situation, or a choice to re-build a life some time afterwards. 

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How Youth Are Different

Our previous strategies to serve youth have been focused too much on symptom solutions and not enough on addressing the root cause of their difficulties: family and community breakdown and the untreated trauma in young people as a result. In addition, with the competitive funding landscape, we viewed our different agencies as rivals, instead of fostering collaboration between us. Overall, the current system does not consider long-term outcomes for youth – being merely reactive rather than proactive in terms of potential results from any given program or initiative. The voices of those young people served by us were heard loud and clear: they sought a safe environment where they would not be forced to rehash traumatic stories every time support was needed while also receiving a consistent continuum care that adheres to similar ethical principles across all organizations involved with providing assistance.


Brain Development

Research establishes that the frontal cortex and reasoning are of the brain continue to develop until the age of 25 in healthy resilient brains. This development can be altered or slowed if a youth is in crisis, and we cannot presume a fully reasoning adult brain just because someone is over 18. In addition, children and youth often have difficulty understanding what has happened to them in traumatic situations, and the ways they react can be highly shame-based and disruptive to their brain development. This often also negatively affects their ability to have healthy relationships with themselves and others.

Therefore, placing chronological expectations on young people who are the age of “adulthood” (18) in our systems, before their rational brains have fully developed, and expecting them to find benefit and support through the same systems that service adults, with the expectation that they have all of the life skills and tools as those adults, is setting the young person and the system up for failure.


Establishment of Community Youth Support Centers

One of the priority Youth Agency Collaboration innovations is creating small, community-based 24/7 crisis intervention, intake, and holistic wellbeing and life skills assessment services that are co-located with resource hubs for youth across Edmonton. This would eliminate many of the immediate gaps for youth in crisis in ensuring that any young person would have a save place to get help in their community and not be turned away.


24/7 Help (In communities where youth live)

  • Crisis identification, diversion, triage, de-escalation, and stabilization
  • Emergency and reserved beds (ideally 12 or fewer)
  • Holistic wellbeing and life skills assessment and entry into the Youth Agency Collaboration connected communities of care


Resource and services hub (Monday-Friday)

  • Onsite medical clinic
  • Onsite mental health support
  • Housing connections
  • Cultural and identity supports
  • Employment and education connections
  • Programming and recreation


Currently, YESS is demonstrating the first Community Youth Support Centre. Because the need is so great and the strategy is so compelling, we have leaned in to creating the first site to demonstrate and evaluate the coordinated intake and holistic assessment components. In June 2023, YESS consolidated all of our existing programming, recreation, mental health, and primary medical care into the Whyte Avenue location, alongside our 24/7 access to emergency beds and crisis intervention. Our intent is to address the immediate need we are seeing for youth in crisis and build a strong evaluation model for the Community Youth Support Centre that is scalable and repeatable across the city and potentially across the province.

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What is the Youth Agency Collaboration?

The Youth Agency Collaboration was formed in 2019 by a group of youth serving agencies with one mission: create a strategic, connected continuum of care throughout Edmonton that will ensure young people have solid, holistic foundations upon which they can build their futures. Today, the Youth Agency Collaboration is more than 27 youth agencies dedicated to providing comprehensive supports and minimal barriers around-the-clock for youth while driving meaningful collaboration and outcomes sharing between stakeholders. Most importantly, the Youth Agency Collaboration is dedicated to shifting the funding, the dialogue, and the focus for youth to be on their holistic wellbeing.


The Current State of Youth Crisis in Edmonton

The need for a better strategy to support youth wellbeing could not be more urgent. We are seeing the following trends and increases across agencies:

  • increased youth in crisis presenting at agencies
  • increased youth houselessness
  • increased numbers of youth trying to access shelter and in youth agencies
  • increased number of youth using substances as well as overdose and poisonings
  • increased suicide and suicidal ideation in youth
  • increased number of youth with significant complex mental health issues
  • increased crisis incident in community with youth (arson, crime, violence)
  • increased instances of discrimination, fear and hate towards youth (cultural, identity-based, poverty and homelessness)
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YESS Director of Programs, Delalie Mortotsi, Wins RISE Community Champion Award!

The EMCN RISE Awards celebrate the accomplishments of newcomers and immigrants in the Edmonton area who demonstrate outstanding commitments to creating a more welcoming and inclusive community for all and commendable service to building strong communities through social, cultural, and economic development.

The Community Champion Award recognizes an individual’s or group’s exceptional contributions to their community and their commitment to positively impacting the lives of those around them. They demonstrate exceptional leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and innovations in their efforts to strengthen community awareness for newcomer equity. This can include volunteering time, energy, and resources towards a particular cause or organization, advocating for social justice and newcomer equality, or leading community-wide initiatives to improve the newcomer community’s wellbeing.

Nneka Otogbolu, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Edmonton Community Foundation (left), presents the Community Champion Award to Delalie Mortotsi, Director of Programs at YESS (right), at the EMCN RISE Awards in October 2023

Dela’s nomination was supported by Jessica Day, Chief Programs Officer, YESS; Eman Mohamed, Compass Supervisor, YESS; Karley Spelrem, Transition Team Lead, YESS previous YESS youth; Karis Nsofor, Ethno-Cultural Capacity Building Project Manager, Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations; Tina Pye, Contracts Specialist, Alberta Children and Family Services, Government of Alberta; Belen Samuel, Edmonton change-maker.

Here are some excerpts from the nomination forms celebrating Dela’s incredible work!


From Jessica Day, Chief Programs Officer, YESS

Delalie Mortotsi (Dela) joined Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) in 2013. During her time, she has worked in a number of roles, including Executive Assistant, Supervisor of Supportive Homes and Services, Manager of Supportive Homes and Services, and her current role, Director of Programs.

In 2017, while serving as Supervisor, Dela initiated open lines of communication with Alberta Childrens’ Services (CS), the largest funder for our supportive homes. She diligently set about building trusted relationships with various personnel, including CS contract managers, placement workers, case managers, and those working within Northern Alberta Child Intervention Services and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate. Dela’s focused efforts played a transformative role in the system, establishing consistency, fostering communication, enhancing collaboration, and ensuring transparency about organizational and service-level obstacles. This unified approach empowered CS to gain a clearer insight into the work conducted on the front lines, enabling them to provide better support, create standardized procedures, and respond to challenges and issues with heightened efficiency and effectiveness.

Dela’s ability to tackle problems has been noted by CS as beyond impressive and has earned her a respected position where she has been consistently relied upon to guide CS’s agency-wide approach to working with agencies across Alberta.

… As a pivotal leader within YESS, Dela champions growth and development by embracing transparent communications, maintaining consistent leadership, and being open to various perspectives, ideas, and methods to tackle challenges faced by youth or staff. Her influence at YESS is multifaceted and marked by her historical understanding, extensive knowledge, flexibility, agility, and unwavering consistency. She places strong emphasis on accommodation and collaboration, aspects that permeate every layer of the organization. From personal growth and leadership to youth processes, program development, training, community engagement, and interactions with executive teams and various departments, Dela’s guidance shapes and enriches all these areas. Her leadership paints a picture of an adept and compassionate leader, steadfastly committed to the holistic well-being and success of the organization and the individuals it serves.

Dela has contributed unique expertise in supporting newcomer staff and youth within YESS. Her experience in navigating the immigration process and pathways to citizenship have been invaluable. Dela has established herself as a process expert and builds relationships with youth based on encouragement, trust, accountability, and predictability. She extends beyond merely empowering young individuals; she has skillfully created a nurturing environment where they feel at ease approaching her with any concerns or grievances. The youth know that they can count on Dela’s fairness and transparency, solidifying her role as a supportive and reliable figure in their lives. Her nuanced understanding of their needs and her authentic approach to relationship-building highlight her exceptional dedication to those she serves.


From Eman Mohamed, Compass Supervisor, YESS

Delalie (Dela) Mortotsi is an incredible Community Member, Leader, Director, and Friend to anyone who has interacted with her. Dela has been my direct supervisor for almost seven years now. In that time, I went from being a summer student to leading my own department at YESS, and realistically that is only possible because of Dela.

YESS was my first step into Youth Work. While I had worked at other agencies with vulnerable populations, YESS opened the door for me to my love of youth work. If you had asked my young self when I walked into those doors if I would still be working at this organization and be more dedicated as time passed, I probably would not have believed you. However, an incredible mentor showed me how to advocate for clients, be professional and collaborate efficiently to do meaningful work.

There are probably 100 examples I can give about Dela’s work, 100 times where she has gone above and beyond for our clients, 100 times she stayed late to solve a problem, 100 times she worked a weekend to meet clients (and staff) who needed her assistance, 100 times she learned immigration issues to provide support and knowledge to our clients, 100 times she worked programs because no one else was there, 100 times she met with new agencies to provide her expertise to foster better community relations.


From Karley Spelrem, Transition Team Lead, YESS

Beyond her role as a manager, Dela actively engages with the community, seeking opportunities to give back and make a positive impact. Whether through collaboration, organizing fundraising events, or supporting community-led projects, Dela consistently showcases her commitment to improving the lives of others.

What sets Dela apart, is her genuine belief in the power of community and her relentless effort to ensure equality, safety and the prosperity of others. She understands the importance of inclusivity, diversity, and the strength that comes from each individual’s voice. Dela actively promotes and supports initiatives that foster a sense of belonging and unity for everyone in our community, regardless of background or circumstance.


From YESS Youth

I have known Dela since I started accessing YESS as a youth. She has greatly supported me in getting housing, healthcare, and my immigration process. I first accessed YESS after my refugee claimant process was denied in 2014, and I needed emergency housing. I had just moved to Edmonton, knew no one, had insufficient funds to rent a room and had just received a letter of deportation. I first met Dela at the Armory Resource Centre. I desperately needed immigration services, and Dela and the team at YESS helped me get the ball rolling. She has been fighting in my corner ever since we sat down, and I confided in her my fears of being deported with no family to go back to, being alone in Edmonton, and starting to navigate my path. After a few months in the emergency shelter, she advocated for me to get into Shanoa’s place. I stayed until my immigration process succeeded in a permanent residency in Canada. Over my time living at Shanoa’s place, Dela connected me with numerous immigration resources and supports in the community and even education services to help me get my schooling on track. Not only was she diligent with my immigration she also encouraged me to make good decisions. At the same time, in the community, she encouraged me to keep my school on track and attend the various services YESS offers, such as cooking classes and art workshops, where I sold two paintings. One thing that stood out was that Dela encouraged me to focus on all aspects of my life even though all I wanted to do was spend all m time dealing with immigration. Dela is more than qualified for the EMCN Community Champion Award because she has made a lasting positive impact on my life. I am proud to say that I am here with the help of the team at YESS and especially Dela for being a fight in my corner even when I gave up a few times due to immigration delays or setbacks. As an adult, I genuinely treasure her honesty and authenticity with me because she was intent on the best for me and my situation, such as working with me on the letter to request funds for an immigration lawyer, applying for scholarships, getting my first apartment, and being an ear to listen. As a Black youth, navigating certain services or even feeling inadequate to apply for specific resources was challenging. Still, Dela had my back and was a great motivator when I doubted myself. And look, I successfully earned a $2000 scholarship for my first year in college and received $5000 from an immigration lawyer who helped me get my PR. I am genuinely grateful to Dela for all the work and support she has given me over the years, and even when I call and check in with her, I always share my appreciation for having her in my corner since day one. Looking back to when I was 17 years old and entering YESS for the first time, I felt ashamed for being homeless, on deportation, and with no support whatsoever. Yet after meeting Dela, I gained someone who would advocate for me in what I needed, call me out when I needed it and show care, compassion, and respect as I navigated my situation. Indeed, that is the kind of supportive human being she is, and it is deeply reflected in her work at YESS, primarily through the youth she continues to fight for, such as myself.


From YESS Youth

I have known Dela since I was 16 years old, when I moved into Graham’s Place. There were a lot of ups and downs between Dela and I at the very beginning, because she was very protective of me and I disliked having a stranger care for me in the capacity that she showed. At the end of the day she and I now have a great relationship, and that’s because now as a 22 year old I understand where she was coming from and I understand that it’s okay to allow people into your life.

Dela really showed compassion towards me and my situation right from the beginning. I was a minor in a relationship with a much older person who was not a safe person for me to be around, but I didn’t want to leave him. She was determined to break my rose-coloured glasses, and with her persistence and the leadership of her team at Graham’s Place, she succeeded in this. She never gave up on me, always had my back, told me honestly when and where and how I messed up, and showed me how to fix it, and she displayed an emormous amount of love for everybody at Graham’s.

Dela is a hard ass, but that’s one of the many things that makes her such an amazing team leader. She sees where there could be improvement and she strives to create realistic goals to meet the ultimate goal of creating a better space for youth and staff within YESS. She is a never-ending advocate for her staff and for the youth she encounters. Dela is motivated to succeed within YESS and her dedication and many years at the organization show this. She is detail oriented and organized, skills every employer runs after, and she compartmentalizes very well which is an absolute asset in this industry. As a youth, I appreciate her honesty and compassion when situations aren’t quite right and there’s limited resources. That honesty helps me because it shows on behalf of YESS that they care, and that there’s really just not much they can always do for every situation, but Dela and YESS staff always give out information for other agencies or people who might be a better fit for supporting your situation.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, Dela did everything in her power to ensure I was ready to take care of a child, being a child myself at 17. She ensured I had parenting and prenatal classes, Dela made sure I made it to all of my doctors’ appointments and supported me with clothing, a stroller and baby carrier, formula, diapers and wipes, blankets, and everything one would need to start a family. She supported me leaving my ex and becoming a single parent. She had my back every step of the journey and without her love and continuous support I would not be who I am today and my daughter would not have the life she has today. 

Dela has always been a huge support in my life and as she advances in the company, it makes me proud to see that her hard work, dedication, love, compassion, empathy, and kindness has paid off within YESS. I hope to see Dela in a higher position in the future but for now I truly believe there isn’t a better fit for the position than Dela herself.


From Karis Nsofor, Ethno-Cultural Capacity Building Project Manager, Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.

Some of my most memorable stories of Delalie involve her stepping boldly into the role of advocate for youth from immigrant and newcomer BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of colour] backgrounds. In her capacity at YESS, Delalie’s gift not only lies in connecting deeply with those she supports but also in facilitating impactful collaborative spaces and opportunities. Her advocacy efforts ensure that community members are wrapped around in the supports and services that they need to thrive and be actively involved in the community.


From Tina Pye, Contracts Specialist, Alberta Children and Family Services, Government of Alberta

Delalie is highly respected in her professional field, by her colleagues, community members, and most importantly by the youth she serves. I have seen her demonstrated leadership by identifying gaps in services and creating community partnerships to help fill those gaps for youth and young adults. Delalie is assertive and impactful when advocating for change. She builds healthy relationship with every person she encounters regardless of their social-economic status or position. She does not only promote inclusivity; she embodies it in her every word and action. Delalie is an indelible individual, and our community is very fortunate to have her as an active, contributing member. Delalie is a recognized leader in the movement to improve the lives of our courageous young people who rely on the interdependence of community, that Delalie relentlessly helps shape.


From Belen Samuel, Edmonton change-maker

Dela is one of the most selfless, caring, and principled individuals I have ever met. She was one of the first people I met while working at YESS: she has not only mentored me to becoming a better community service professional, but she has also informed the ways that I continue to dedicate myself to the world of community-based support services. She is the reason many community and support professionals like me see possibility beyond the impossible and in the face of limited resources and capacity.

She is not only committed to her work of making life better and essentially liveable for the lives of unhoused and societally neglected populations, but she is deeply committed to solving the precarious nature and issues of migration that uniquely affect so many refugees and immigrants of colour. The most memorable example is the case of an individual who she ensured safety and inclusion for despite and upon state requests of deportation back to the client’s country of birth. Her leadership and advocacy efforts in aligning legal services, provincial and federal consultation, and collaborative organizational teamwork not only resulted in the approved status and settlement of this client, but also made their current life of accessing higher education and supporting their own siblings despite being orphaned and abandoned in so-called Edmonton possible.

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Our Collaboration with Our Neighbours

We spoke to neighbourhood members Elizabeth Showalter and Barbara McPherson, who have been involved in a community group since the summer of 2022. This group’s feedback has been instrumental in how YESS has introduced the concept of the changes in our programs in June 2023, and how we can ensure the felt safety of not only our youth, but also for our neighbours in the Bonnie Doon community where we are based.


Interview with Elizabeth Showalter

Tell us about yourself and your connection with YESS.

I live nearby the Youth Community Support Centre and first connected with YESS last summer. I’ve been able to attend clean ups and meetings to learn more about YESS, get to know staff and help maintain a relationship between the organization and the community. I’ve been working with some other neighbours and the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Empowerment Team on this.


What was your opinion of the changes to YESS programs when you first heard of them?

Having learned about the mental health challenges faced by youth and the need for more supports in one place, I was glad to hear that the changes were able to fill an important gap and address some barriers that youth faced in the old model and provide more staff to support them. 


How have you seen the positive impact of these changes not only for youth, but in the community?

I’ve heard that youth have been able to access more supports for mental health and I think YESS has done a good job of keeping the community informed as change has occurred. 


What is one thing you wish the wider community knew about youth who access YESS?
That YESS is a safe place for youth and that feeling safe is important to them.


Interview with Barbara McPherson

Tell us about yourself and your connection with YESS.

My first connection point with YESS is proximity—I live in the neighbourhood. And then last summer I got involved with the neighbourhood action community group that Elizabeth Schowalter headed up.


What was your opinion of the changes to YESS programs when you first heard of them?

I was very much in support of the new model. It is excellent to see all the resources co-located and available for youth. Now, youth don’t have to leave the building to access the most essential services, and this reduces barriers for youth in how they get help.


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

I found it very compelling to learn that 100% of youth who access YESS have experienced trauma. Across all the different kinds of experiences kids have had, they have this in common. This is significant, and it points to the importance of a place like YESS existing and helping youth find their way.

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Our Collaboration with the City of Edmonton

The City of Edmonton Neighbourhood Empowerment Team has been an important partner in creating a sense of literal and felt safety for our neighbourhood as we have undergone so many changes in YESS programs at our Whyte Ave building.

We have been in closer communication and connection with our neighbourhood since summer 2022. Having the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team be part of these conversations has coordinated so many resources for both the community and the youth who access YESS.

We talked to Maggie Farbrother, Community Safety Liaison with the City of Edmonton, about their team’s experience of this process and the impact they have seen.


Tell us about your organization’s connection to YESS.

The Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) has been working closely with YESS to support a stronger sense of community safety for all in the community surrounding the 24/7 overnight shelter located at 9310 82 Avenue.  In partnership with YESS, Edmonton Police Service (EPS), other City of Edmonton departments, and community members, positive change has occurred over time, allowing for stronger communication and collaboration between YESS as an organization, and the surrounding residential community.


How has your organization been involved in the recent changes to YESS programs?

The Neighbourhood Empowerment Team has been working closely with YESS to support a stronger sense of community safety for all in the community surrounding the Community Youth Support Centre site. Though NET was not involved in the new program changes directly, the existing work to work collaboratively with the community allowed for safe and productive space for community consultation. YESS has worked hard to hear the concerns of their neighbours and take that into account to ensure a better sense of community for all.


How have you seen the positive impact of these changes not only for youth, but in the community?

One positive impact I believe is really beautiful from all the changes YESS has made, is seeing the broader communication and collaboration happening with YESS and in the community. At times there have been differing perspectives on the best course of action forward, and though disagreements continue to exist, there is a strong willingness to work together to tackle issues, not separately but together as a community.


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

Over the last year the community surrounding YESS has taken a lot of time to learn about the programs and youth that access YESS. I do believe that education has helped build a stronger community and sense of safety for all. I wish the wider community beyond this was able to see the challenges, but also resiliency that many of the youth have and face on a daily basis.

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Do I Need a Will?

This article was originally published as part of the 2021 Planned Giving Newsletter. It has been updated for the 2023 edition.


A will is one of the most profound and consequential documents that you can ever create and, for many, an emotional but deeply fulfilling process. The questions it presents are numerous and the conversations inspired amongst family and loved ones are a gift in and of themselves. Shelly Chamaschuk provides valuable information on wills in Alberta and answers the most basic and often-heard estate planning question: do I need a will?



The answer is YES. I believe that every person who is eligible to make a Will, should have a Will. The reasons are many, but here are a few of the most important ones:


  1. People often assume that their immediate family (spouse, common-law partner, adult children) will be able to look after their estate if they pass away. This is incorrect. No person, not even a spouse, has the legal authority to deal with your estate when you pass away. Having a Will makes the process of estate administration much easier because the person you name as your executor (now called your Personal Representative) takes authority from the Will immediately upon your death, and can begin administering certain aspects of your estate right away. Without a Will, no steps can be taken until a grant of administration is obtained from the Court. Even with a Will, your Personal Representative may have to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to deal with some of your assets, but institutions like banks and investment companies are much more cooperative and willing to provide information to the person named in a Will as the Personal Representative than they are to a person making inquiries that has no Will to rely on. By making a Will, you make the process of settling your estate much easier and less stressful for your family and friends who may are left to sort out your estate without any guidance from you and without knowing your wishes.


  1. A Will allows you to choose who will act as your Personal Representative and administer your estate. You can choose a person(s) whom you trust and you know will follow your wishes as you have set them out in your Will. If you die without a Will, legislation in Alberta provides a list of the people who have the first right to apply to administer your estate, but that may not be who you would choose to do this job for you.


  1. A Will allows you to choose who will receive the proceeds of your estate. Although you have a legal obligation to support your dependents (spouse, common-law partner, minor children, adult children who are unable to earn a livelihood due to a physical or mental disability), you can otherwise make gifts as you choose. If you die without a Will, again there is legislation in Alberta that determines which family members will receive your estate.


  1. A Will allows you to leave gifts to a charity or charities in the amounts or proportions you decide. Without a Will, there is no provision for any of your estate to be given to the charities you supported during your lifetime. For many people it is important to them that some of their estate be left to their favorite charities. There are also some income tax benefits to your estate to making charitable gifts in your Will.


Making a Will is much easier than most people think. I often have clients comment when they are leaving my office having signed their Wills about how simple and easy the process was, and had they known, they would have done a Will much sooner.

I encourage everyone to make a Will to make it easier for your loved ones to take care of your estate during a sad and stressful time for them, to prevent unnecessary family disputes, and to ensure that your estate is given to those that you want to receive it.


This article was written by Shelly K. Chamaschuk, a Barrister & Solicitor with Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP. Her practice focuses on corporate/commercial matters, business and succession planning, estate planning, including wills, enduring powers of attorney, personal directives, family trusts, and estate administration. She is the firm’s Wills, Estates & Trusts Team Lead.

Prior to entering law, Shelly worked for the Capital Health Authority and was the Regional Coordinator for the Department of Laboratory Medicine. She also worked overseas as a medical laboratory technologist in Saudi Arabia and with a humanitarian aid project in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Shelly is a regular presenter for the Edmonton Community Foundation and lecturer for the Legal Education Society of Alberta.



Impact the Future

Youth rely on valued and trusted sources of support and are inspired to look to the future with hope, purpose, and the courage to strive for a better tomorrow.

Will you consider including YESS in your estate plans? Every legacy gift to YESS is a thoughtful gift from the heart, a meaningful part of your life story, and a way to help YESS thrive in its commitment to champion youth who reach out in their need for healing, relief, and guidance.

Leaving a legacy gift is as easy as 1-2-3! To make your legacy gift, consider the following:


  1. Adding a codicil (a supplement) to your current will,
  2. Creating a new will, or
  3. Adding YESS as a beneficiary to an investment or life insurance policy


We’d be happy to work with you, your family and your advisors on a confidential basis to ensure that your gift meets your philanthropic goals.

If you have already provided for a legacy gift to YESS in your estate plans, we’d be delighted to learn in confidence about your future plans. Thank you for your life-changing gift! It will surely help to enable young people in crisis to heal, improve their well-being, find connection and stability, and to create healthy futures.

To learn more about making a legacy gift, please contact Eileen Papulkas by phone at 780.468.7070 x298 or by email at


What you need to know if you wish to leave a gift to YESS in your will:

YESS’s legal name:

Y.E.S.S.: Youth Emergency Shelter Society of Edmonton o/a (YESS) Youth Empowerment and Support Services

CRA Registered Charitable No.: 12953-7437 RR 0001

Full mailing address:
9310 82 Ave NW Edmonton AB T6C 0Z6


Sample wording for a Specific gift in your Will:

“I give to currently of Y.E.S.S.: Youth Emergency Shelter Society of Edmonton o/a (YESS) Youth Empowerment and Support Services currently of 9310 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB, T6C 0Z6, the sum of $______ to be used at the discretion of the organization.”


Sample wording for a Residual gift in your Will:

“I give to Y.E.S.S.: Youth Emergency Shelter Society of Edmonton o/a (YESS) Youth Empowerment and Support Services currently of 9310 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB, T6C 0Z6, all (or ______%) of the residue of my estate, to be used at the discretion of the organization.”

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Community Spotlight: Edmonton’s Food Bank

Interview with Hailey Helset, Agency Depot Engagement Manager at Edmonton’s Food Bank


Tell us about yourself and your organization!

My name is Hailey Helset and I am the Agency Depot Engagement Manager with Edmonton’s Food Bank. I started as a summer student in 2019 working to build hampers for people in need before I finished my degree in criminology. When I graduated in April 2020, I worked the following summer in the same position before transitioning into my current role at Edmonton’s Food Bank. I now have the pleasure of working with 300+ organizations including agencies, soup kitchens, schools, shelters, and food depots across the City of Edmonton.Edmonton’s Food Bank provides food to more than 30,000 people through our hamper programs every month. Of those receiving food through these programs, approximately 40% are children under the age of 18. Edmonton’s Food Bank is, primarily, a central food warehouse and distribution centre for local social service agencies, shelters, soup kitchens, and schools. We raise food and collect food donations from the food industry and other donors. In 2022, Edmonton’s Food Bank collected, sorted, and redistributed 5.9 million kilograms of food.


What kinds of programs and support does Edmonton’s Food Bank offer, and how do you see the impact of these programs? What is the ripple effect of creating food security?

Edmonton’s Food Bank has many programs to reduce food insecurity. These include: 

  • Hamper programs that provide food hampers for individuals and families
  • Food for partner programs that provide about 400,000 meals and snacks every month
  • Supporting Nutrition for all Classes and Kids (S.N.A.C.K) for schools and child-focused agencies
  • The Beyond Food Program that assists people with job readiness and personal supports such as assistance with resume writing and job searches, safety tickets, referrals, and much, much more

These food programs help directly with food insecurity and relieve one source of concern. By supporting food needs, we help people free up their monetary resources for rent, utilities, or other important expenses. We also often hear it helps to know there are people in the community supporting them through their difficulties. Our Beyond Food Program decreases food insecurity by helping people to increase their employability and earning potential or by maximizing the supports they receive. In 2022 the Beyond Food Program assisted over 800 clients. It is only with the support of the community that we are able to make these positive impacts for the people we serve.


Like YESS, Edmonton’s Food Bank has a long legacy in Edmonton. How do you continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community?

Edmonton’s Food Bank was Canada’s first food bank! We have been operating for 42 years and continuously evolving to help meet the needs of our community. Our annual client surveys show what is most needed. For example, our Beyond Food Program was created after our 2015 survey. This summer we opened a new building that will feature a pantry to help provide other access for our clients. We provide mobile hamper depots to meet clients in their own neighbourhoods where barriers exist.

Edmonton’s Food Bank does “food” really well, and to help move toward lasting change we continue to collaborate with other agencies assisting people in need to provide the best network of resources possible to people. 


What is one thing you wish the community knew about people who access Edmonton’s Food Bank?

That it could be anyone! All it takes for many people is one unexpected large expense or loss of a job and they can quickly need our assistance. We have people who were donors become clients and people who were clients become donors. We are here when you need us.

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Community Spotlight: The Pride Centre of Edmonton

Interview with Esjay Lafayette, Executive Director of the Pride Centre of Edmonton


Tell us about yourself and your organization!

My name is Esjay Lafayette (he/him) and I am the Executive Director of the Pride Centre of Edmonton (PCE). I joined the PCE team in 2020 as the Operations Manager and became the ED in October 2022—prior to that, I worked as an electrician but a combination of factors (turning 40, the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement) motivated me to change careers. I wanted to dedicate my time and skillset to helping the community rather than just making money for an industry, which aligned with an opportunity at the PCE. With the expertise of Pe Metawe Consulting, we are implementing a new strategic plan, committed to the advancement of all 2SLGBTQIA+ people but with a specific focus on three key groups: youth, trans and gender diverse people, and queer asylum seekers and newcomers. When I’m not at work, you can find me hanging out with my partner, two teenagers, and dog, Samson; skateboarding, or watching reruns of M.A.S.H. and The Golden Girls.


What kinds of programs and support does the Pride Centre offer, and how do you see the impact of these programs?

The PCE offers an accessible, trauma-informed, judgement-free space and support systems for people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, and the people in their lives. Our programming includes:

  • Free drop-in counselling sessions every Tuesday and Thursday with intern therapists, via our partnership with The Family Centre;
  • In-person and virtual youth programming (ages 13 to 24) every Wednesday evening;
  • Gender affirming wares programming which includes a community closet – people can access second-hand garments and jewelry, new undergarments, toiletries, and seasonal clothing at absolutely no cost;
  • The Binder Exchange Program, which provides community members with gently used binders, gift cards for gender affirming gear, and binder fittings and education for safe wear, free of charge;
  • The largest queer library in Alberta, which includes YA fiction and books for children 12 and under, is available to the PCE members — memberships are $25 or sliding scale. We also offer fee waivers, so memberships are accessible to all;
  • Support for queer asylum seekers through a partnership with EMCN’s (Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers) Rainbow Refuge program and LGBTQ+ Newcomers Group, and support letters for refugee hearings and advocacy work;
  • Information and referral wayfinding, from housing to food insecurity.

During public hours, people can utilize various equipment and services in our space, including: washing facilities and public washrooms, computers and charges, printing, a games room, a sensory room, art supplies, light refreshments, a community kitchen for baking and cooking, and a community fridge, freezer, and pantry.

At the PCE, we see the impacts of our programming on a daily basis—by meeting people where they are at, we’re able to mitigate a lot of loneliness and isolation. By developing trust and healthy relationships with community members and other organizations, we’re able to build connections, bridge gaps, and remove barriers to resources. Safety is one of our top priorities, therefore the resources and information we provide to community members is vetted to the best of our ability, as are the people and collectives we collaborate with.


Like YESS, the Pride Centre has a long legacy in Edmonton. How does the centre continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community? Why is it important to still have dedicated safe spaces for the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

In addition to our new strategic plan, the PCE has applied for support from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) to action this plan. We are also working with CASA on a one-year pilot program that will provide community members with access to a registered social worker.

These steps were taken after engaging with community and gathering feedback—our evolution, as both an organization and as frontline workers, is directly linked to listening, observing, believing, and responding accordingly to those who access our services and programs.

Ironically, increased societal acceptance and queer visibility has created more danger for, particularly, identifiable 2SLGBTQIA+ people. The political climate in the States has a contingent in Alberta that is vocally homophobic, especially towards trans and gender diverse folks which creates safety issues. Most of the community members who access the PCE do not have social capital. They are typically lower income with intersecting identities, and their queerness is just the cherry on top of all the other barriers they face. These community members in particular deserve dedicated safe spaces to engage in human connection without the threat of being targeted for who they fundamentally are. It’s also important that a city the size of Edmonton and the surrounding areas provide multiple safe spaces for the queer community that include options for youth under 18 and don’t involve alcohol.


Pride is about activism, but it is also a celebration! What is the impact of the 2SLGBTQ+ community having opportunities to celebrate themselves and share joy?

Just like hurt and pain are integral to the human experience, so is joy and celebration. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, and even more so for those generations before me, there was virtually no diverse queer representation, and limited opportunities to come together and celebrate in safety. Historically, our pain and suffering was focused on. We were often depicted as sick and/or dangerous. My mom struggled immensely when I came out as trans. She worried terribly that I could not live a fulfilling life as a trans person. Her experience is not unique for many guardians of queer folks, but also for queer people themselves. These feelings of despair are directly a result of the absence of balanced, truthful representations of queer people and our experiences. The impact of people openly expressing and celebrating who they are helps counter the myth that being queer equals an unhappy life, it provides hope for people who do not feel safe or ready to come out, and it is a form of speaking truth to power. There are a lot of people in power locally and globally who still don’t want us around, so queer joy and celebration is absolutely a form of resistance.


What is one thing you wish the community knew about the Pride Centre?

There is a lot of diversity amongst the PCE community. We serve a large demographic of people, with many intersecting identities and barriers, but our team is small. There are four core staff members, myself included, striving to make deep, systemic changes in the way our organization operates while continuing to offer frontline services and balance our own wellbeing. However, we are beginning to run on fumes, and our financial situation is currently precarious—donations are greatly needed, as is advocating for the PCE, so we can continue to evolve and expand and increase our capacity, which will ultimately increase the impact of the work we do.

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Thank You to Vans!

Our friends at Vans are monthly donors to YESS by providing footwear and clothing for youth. Last month, Vans and the Vans Community Fund went above and beyond and donated $16,178.40 to YESS.

This donation will remain within our community, supporting those who need it most.


Tell us why you choose to support YESS?

We support YESS because we see it as a positive institution delivering real change in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness in our community.


How does Vans give back to the community?

Within our community Vans gives back through store donations of gently used and nonsalable product to organizations helping youth and families in need. Vans also donates product for Go Skate Day, and during the Fort Mac fires, Vans sent an entire semi-trailer of product up from California to help families in need. Each family got a free meal, pair of shoes, and piece of clothing. They’ve also been spotted helping out the arts scene here in Edmonton!


Why is it important for Van’s to support the community?

The community is who supports us, so we need to do the same for them!

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