Community

Community Spotlight: Mealshare

Mealshare is committed to creating a world where it’s easier to share with those in need, and every child and youth is fed as a result. And, they won’t stop until that’s happened.

How does Mealshare work? Mealshare partners with restaurants and selects a “Mealshare Item” for the menu. When a customer orders this item, they get their meal, just like normal—and for each of those items sold, restaurants contribute $1.00 to Mealshare. Those funds are shared with partner agencies like YESS to purchase groceries and ingredients to provide meals for children and youth. Buy one, give one—it’s that simple!

Mealshare first partnered with us in 2015 and they have donated over $100,000 to YESS! 

We talked to Shree Govindarajan about her experience in bringing restaurants and charities together to support youth and children in our communities.


Tell us about yourself and your role at Mealshare.

My name is Shree, and I am the Edmonton Community Leader for Mealshare. I joined the organization in August 2018 to help fight against youth hunger, and connect with the restaurant community to do so. The Community Leader position is a combination of restaurant recruitment and retention, as well as managing our charity partners, and other community stakeholders. It’s been a rewarding experience, and such a great way to engage with my city.

How does Mealshare work?

It’s really simple! Mealshare is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end youth hunger in our lifetimes, with a Buy 1, Give 1 model. Our partner restaurants put the Mealshare logo on 2-3 menu items, and when patrons go in and order those items, they not only get a delicious meal, but they also share a meal with a youth in need through our program. Our partner restaurants provide us with funds for each one of their Mealshare items sold, and we distribute those funds to partner charities who then serve those meals. It’s a really great way to turn dining out into helping out!

Why did Mealshare choose to focus on supporting kids and youth focused organizations?

Kids and youth are such a vulnerable population, and we wanted to focus on these groups as well as the glaring issue of youth hunger in our communities. When people think of starving kids, they often think of groups in other countries, of it being a far-away issue. They often don’t think about the kids who live in their own communities, who are going to school without lunches in their backpacks, or food in their bellies. Especially as kids need good nutrition in this critical growth stage, it’s so important that they receive healthy meals on a consistent basis, and we’re so happy we can help through our program.

How does Mealshare see their impact in the community?

Recently, Mealshare hit the 4.5 million meals shared mark, which is incredible. Just thinking about 4.5 million Canadian kids who were fed through our program is very humbling, and also mind-blowing. Our impact on a day-to-day basis is still humbling, if not a little more easy to digest. We hear from restaurant owners that their customers love that they can give back to their communities in a way that is tangible, and guilt-free. We hear from our charity partners that it is nice to have a consistent source of funding, and that it helps them to plan and budget better. We see it in volunteer sessions with our partner charities, when we can serve meals directly alongside our restaurant partners, and see the impact of our work as kids and youth fill their plates.

Find out which Edmonton restaurants partner with Mealshare here

Read more

The Orange Door Project

The Home Depot Canada Foundation is committed to supporting initiatives that prevent and end youth homelessness in Canada. They support youth at-risk or facing homelessness by helping them realize their full potential and build a brighter future.

In December 2020 for the Orange Door Project Campaign, 182 stores participated nationwide to support their local youth-serving charities. First established in 2008, the Orange Door Project’s in-store fundraising campaign unites our communities together to help give back through $2 donations at the till.

With the Orange Door Project and support from The Home Depot Canada Foundation, over $1 million was raised for 125 youth-serving charities across Canada! In Edmonton and the surrounding area, nine stores selected YESS as their charity of choice and raised over $50,000 for youth in our community!

After going through an uncertain year and adjusting to health and safety protocols in the pandemic, the support of the community rallying together and giving back has truly blown us away!

Keep an eye out at your local Home Depot for their next Orange Door Project Campaign!

Home Depot Strathcona

Home Depot Clareview

Home Depot Sherwood Park

Home Depot South Edmonton Common

Home Depot Skyview

Read more

Long View Systems & SkipTheDepot

Last year, Long View Systems wanted to do a fundraiser to support YESS and youth in their community, but the pandemic made it difficult for them to work together when they couldn’t get together. They contacted our Community Engagement team for more information on fundraising options that would be accessible them, and we helped them find a solution with SkipTheDepot!

Tell us a bit about yourselves! Long View is one of North America’s fastest-growing IT Solutions organizations. We are one of the largest privately-owned IT services and solutions companies in North America, with offices across the continent. Our people-centric approach allows us to employ and retain many of the world’s leading enterprise technologists. We support the world’s dynamic businesses by bringing agility, simplicity and insight to your people, so they can serve your clients.

What made you choose YESS for your fundraiser? We chose YESS as an organization to donate to as we wanted to support our local youth in need and work with an organization that focuses on improving youth homelessness. SkipTheDepot has made fundraising easy during these challenging times. The process was simple and safe, with COVID-19 here we needed to find a way that everyone could donate without leaving their homes.

Thank you so much to Long View Systems! They raised $344 through their online bottle drive with SkipTheDepot!

 


 

Let SkipTheDepot make recycling easy for you! This made-in-Alberta initiative provides an awesome service picking up bottles from you front door, and you can even choose to give your refund to your favourite charity!

Read more

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia! This message comes from YESS Youth Worker, Ian Brown:

“YESS demonstrates that our programs are safer spaces by having informed and confident staff who are able to address homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia firmly and in real time. When leaders in the space don’t allow violent and hurtful things to be said to, or about, 2SLGBTQ+ people, we are letting everyone know that they are valued and can exist safely in the space. Symbols of support such as pride flags, ‘safe space’ signs, and introducing pronouns in our daily practice are important, but the most proactive way to create a safer space is setting an explicit boundary against violent, hateful, and hurtful language and actions against 2SLGBTQ+ people, while teaching and modelling accountability for the impact of that behavior.”

Read more

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.

Read more

Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society

It takes all of us working together to create spaces where we can all heal together and thrive together. We talked to Sherry Fowler, Community Engagement Coordinator at Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, about how they create these spaces for the community.

Tell us about your organization.

Bent Arrow is committed to building on the strengths of Indigenous children, youth and families to enable them to walk proudly in two worlds both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous world.

Although Bent Arrow’s programs have Indigenous base to them, we welcome people of all races and backgrounds.

Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society has been serving Indigenous children, youth, and families in Edmonton and area since 1994. 

The founders believed strongly that keeping culture at the centre was crucial and that this important work was best done in partnership. 

Bent Arrow provides programming and services for all ages from pre-natal to seniors ensuring that we look at all programming to ensure we are providing a wholistic perspective encompassing the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellbeing of all participants.

How does your organization bring focus to mental health?

When looking at an individual’s mental health it is done from a wholistic standpoint ensuring we look at the whole person and what needs are not being met.  A person who is struggling in one area may be struggling in all. Mental health supports may include but are not limited to: connection to community and culture through phone calls, video chats, social distance meetings, or meeting face-to-face (in a safe way) with an Elder.

We also offer onsite therapy/counselling sessions for participants of the programs offered at Bent Arrow.

What is one thing you would like the community to know about young people and mental health?

When we look at mental health just remember you are never alone. Many people struggle in silence, don’t be one of them. There are people out there who can help; you just have to let them. You are stronger than you think and braver than most, keep on being strong and talk to someone.

Read more

#tbt Stardust Retro Roller Rink

This summer, Southgate Centre hosted the Stardust Retro Roller Rink for five weeks of groovy fun in support of YESS. They welcomed kids and adults, talented rollerskaters and newbies to the rink where everyone got to make awesome summer memories.

“Our team was brainstorming ideas in terms of new experiences we could offer our guests,” says Claire Kolmatycki, Marketing Director at Southgate Centre. “We landed on roller skating as we thought it would be fun to offer a retro activity that would be fun for our adult shoppers, while offering something new for our youth to try out.”

In addition to regular skating during Southgate’s open hours, they hosted theme days, seniors days, toonie Tuesdays, and parties at the Stardust Retro Roller Rink, with all proceeds coming to YESS. The team at Southgate anticipated that the roller rink would be popular with young families, and so they wanted to partner with a youth-oriented charity. They approached us with this awesome opportunity and we teamed up to provided all the staff and volunteers needed for five weeks of rollin’ at the rink. The team at Southgate learned a lot about YESS and even came for a tour of our Whyte Ave building.

“I would like to raise awareness that YESS is a lot more than an emergency shelter,” says Claire. “They offer a broad range of programs for traumatized youth. On our tour we were able to see some of the artwork created by YESS youth and we were impressed by their talent and level of creativity and artistry.”

At YESS we focus on empowering our youth to build healthy relationships and we love giving them opportunities to create special memories. It was touching for us to see friends, families, and—on a special outing!—our youth come together at the roller rink to have fun, experience community, and create memories together.

“If we can contribute towards shaping fun memories through the roller rink, then we are very happy!” says Claire.

There was a lot of rockin’, rollin, and retro fun at the Stardust Roller Rink this summer. Of all the great memories, what was a highlight?

“The adults-only roller rink party was a hoot! We had some diehard rollerskating fans that night and they were skating backwards and doing tricks! It was fantastic to see everyone in their retro outfits, just enjoying the 80s tunes and having a blast!” says Claire.

Thank you so much to Southgate Centre for partnering with us on the Stardust Retro Roller Rink this summer! The rink raised $18,290 to support YESS programs for traumatized youth on their journeys toward healing. The number of great summer memories made at the rink this summer will always be priceless and we know the community had a special, magical experience rolling the sunny days away!

Read more

We Are Loyal to the Pavement

This piece was written by Kristina, who shared it with us on Facebook. She is a champion of the YESS cause and presented this piece at a local event.

We are loyal to the pavement. The only stable thing in our lives, we pound on it – it never shifts. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what brought you here, you’re not wrong. Your reason is good enough. You are good enough. There is no wrong reason. And even more important, you are strong enough. You are winning, even on days you feel like you aren’t, every day that you wake up you are winning. The odds are against you; a harsh reality. We are embraced by adversity, as youth on the street. We are synonymous with struggle. We are transparent to privilege. We earn every right we have, we fight for it, scream for it, we walk some dark paths for it. As youth our ability to fight for solutions falls short of our age, to prove our opinion is worthy – it is “wise” enough to know better. We fight to be our own advocate. We fight to be heard. We battle ourselves in a teeter totter of knowing we can always do better and coping through the position we’re standing in. We face the internal battle of leaving the comfort we’ve found in those dark places and reaching for the light, the end of the battle – a different dream for everyone. We struggle to imagine our success, how we will get there and who will hold our hands. Many things will come and go, they will tear you down and leave you feeling broken. You will lose friends, you will lose things you love along the way. I promise you will heal. You will meet new friends and you will find love in new places and new things. You will one day wake up and realize, the success you struggled to imagine is internalized in who you are and the battles you’ve won. You will wake up and see the courageous person that brought you here. You will push for greatness, because you deserve it – you are worthy. You have a beautiful gift to offer the world. Success is defined as the “accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

Find you purpose, whatever it is. Reach for your dreams, dear child dream big. Embrace who you are and all you’ve become – be proud of who you are. I promise you this is true, I know because I was there too. We need to empower our youth, especially those fighting their battle on the streets. The strength and drive of a youth who grew up on the streets is parallel to the spirit and drive of many of the business people I’ve come across in my professional life. I’ve walked the pavement; I paced the alleys at 3am and faced the wounds that came along with it. I resented the stereotype cast on me as a “degenerate”. I faced endlessly the judgement, that I had been or done wrong – that I wouldn’t be where I was if I had been a better person, a better kid. I fought that belief, I challenged them – I wanted to prove them wrong, not for them – for me. I fell and when I fell, I fell hard. I embraced that struggle, I cried and I screamed and I moved on. I found support in the people who held me up and I worked hard at it. Until one day, that day came, my 19th birthday (I was in BC). The day I become an “adult”. That was the day, my focus changed from fighting for my own privilege, my own rights and it became about fighting for their rights, their privilege – their right to childhood. You’re right to not have to pound the pavement. Stay strong my friends, stay innocent and humble.

Read more

Guest Post: The Power of YESS

I recently took a tour of YESS’ facilities. Being a complete outsider with only a very broad idea of what Youth Empowerment & Support Services stands for, I went in expecting to be surprised, but that ended up being an extreme understatement. I jumped on board the tour because I was hoping to make a difference through my company, Burst Energy, who provides inexpensive electricity prices to both residential and commercial.

Tommy, YESS’ Sponsorship Specialist, walked me around one of their three robust buildings and explained how YESS is one of the only “full service” homeless shelters. You can’t really appreciate what they mean when they say full service until you see it firsthand. Does that mean that they provide beds, food, and blankets? Doesn’t everyone do that?

Well, it turns out that what I thought was a lot, only scratched the surface of what they actually do. Beds, food, and blankets are important, but YESS ensures that every aspect of the kids’ lives are addressed, including their physical, mental, and emotional well being. The youth who go to YESS are searching for help to rebuild their lives. YESS provides them with the help, much needed resources, support, and individual guidance through all of the different programs they offer. I knew that I had to support this work.

Since our conception, Burst Energy has made it our mandate to supply energy to Albertans at an inexpensive rate because nobody should struggle to pay for electricity. This matched perfectly with the incredible work at YESS.

To better support YESS, we are proud to announce The Power of YESS program. If you sign up and use the referral code “YESS”, we will give you some of the cheapest electricity rates possible and donate each month to Youth Empowerment & Support Services. The best part is that the donation comes off our bottom line!

Residential – $2 CAD every month.

Commercial – $2 CAD per 2,000 kWh every month.

If only 500 people sign up this year we will still be providing YESS with $12,000 annually. It’s our way of making a difference by doing what we do best: providing electricity.

Let’s help make life brighter for these youth!

To find out more about the Power of YESS Program visit burstenergy.ca.

~ blog post written by David Mendenhall, Burst Energy

Read more