YESS Champion

Donor Spotlight: Judith Dyck and James Flett

Isn’t it true that our lives are rife with the unexpected and filled with surprises. And as our story is written, within those fulsome pages is a powerful commonality that we all share. What stands out the most isn’t necessarily the emotions associated with our greatest joys or our most heartbreaking sorrows. It is who was there to support us.   

Long-time annual donors, Judith Dyck and James Flett, so beautifully speak of the two-fold gift that can be found within the wise help and loving support provided to youth along their life’s journey. No young person’s life should be consumed by worry, the loss of potential, or the loss of their dreams, along life’s long tale of the complicated and unpredictable. What a privilege and opportunity that presents itself when a young person finds the courage and wisdom to reach out for support! We are all, whether by happenstance or design, a part of someone’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

 

From Judith and James

We are long time Edmonton residents—James grew up here and I moved from Manitoba over 40 years ago. Our lives are rooted in a deep love of family, place, and community. Our two sons are in their early twenties and through them, their friends, and our own experiences, we know transitioning to adulthood can be tough.

Caring is a part of being human and to be able to give is a blessing. Our focus in giving is helping people build resilience and strong families. Sometimes it seems that society looks at people in silos—some are sick, so we give to hospitals. Others are hungry, so we give to the food bank. But really, they’re the same people. So our hope is that there’s a continuum of support for people in need, from crisis nursery to youth services to support for young parents.

Through working with Kids Kottage, a crisis nursery in Edmonton, we saw first-hand how hard people try to support their families. If people are struggling and aren’t able to create the families they’d like to, children can miss out. As these children become adults, they are left to knit together their lives on their own.

And thus YESS. YESS provides a place and a warm heart for youth—all youth—in need. It relies heavily on donors. We tend to give annually without designating where the funds are to be used. YESS knows its needs and uses donations wisely.

If there’s one thing we would like people to understand about youth using the services of YESS, it is that they are no more or less gifted or worthy than our own children. They’ve just had to travel a different road. They are deserving of unconditional love and support in reaching adulthood.

A few years ago we toured YESS and saw this on the wall:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.”

YESS gives young people the space to hear that voice and keep trying. And to succeed.

 


 

Thank you for caring so deeply about the work that YESS does and for the profound difference that your gift will help to make in the life story of so many young people!  

Your donation will be used to support the wide-ranging and life-changing needs of our youth, as our donors would so rightly expect:  Programs and services to address trauma, addiction and mental health challenges, to establish or rebuild life skills and strengthen resilience, to ensure access to healthy food, welcoming, safe shelter –and crucially- healing, recovery, and future vision.

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National Philanthropy Day: Collin and Janel Bruce

For National Philanthropy Day 2020 we nominated The REALTORS® Community Foundation, Ledcor Group, Collin and Janel Bruce, No Room in the Inn, and Hillcrest Junior High to recognize their incredible support of YESS!

Collin and Janel Bruce

Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS) is honored to recognize Collin, Janel & the team at Collin Bruce Mortgage Team for the profound impact that their philanthropic commitment has had over the past 10 years on our organization and the lives of the incredible youth that we serve every day. 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 an annual Sonic auction initiative. Over the years, they have regularly sponsored and helped to grow both our annual Gala for Youth and YESS Charity Golf Tournament. Many thanks to Collin, Janel & the Collin Bruce Mortgage Team for their tireless long-term support and encouragement of our youth as they grow and empower themselves to become independent and break the cycle of homelessness.

“YESS plays an integral role for the youth of this city. These youth are put in unimaginable, terrible circumstances, at no fault of their own. Not only does YESS provide a safe place for these kids to go, over time they help address and heal the trauma that they face. We are so grateful and blessed to be a part of the small business community in Edmonton and have always wanted to give back to that community. We connected with YESS when we started our business and feel so lucky to be a part of that family. We truly believe that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more and try to live by this.”

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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

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The Ins and Outs of Bequest Giving

Karen Reed has a larger-than-life personality and the laugh to go with it. Venture to ask for her thoughts on legacy building in life and at YESS, and her mood will turn reflective, with comments sure to be full of candor and characteristic passion.  

Karen’s Giving Story

I’ve always understood the “why” of my working at YESS. There is an undeniable ebb and flow to the daily dynamic and culture that touches the lives of so many. You can see it very clearly—how we each at various times come to play a small or a large part in the weaving of a youth’s life story. We’re all helping in our own way to create this incredibly rich legacy. It’s so important to touch a life, to share your heart, and to live well!

My charitable giving has become more focused over time on a few particular causes close to my heart.  From my perspective, time and treasure run parallel to each other. And so, it’s important to me that I support organizations that work in tandem with my personal vision and values. I have a real love and respect for local grassroots charities, not typically found to be in the spotlight, doing a variety of great work for the community. I have been both a volunteer and a monthly donor throughout my entire tenure with YESS. I see the far-reaching, inspiring, and hugely consequential impact of a donor’s support on young lives. Each time I see one of our youth at YESS making strides in their life because they have the critical supports that they need, I am so grateful that YESS is there to be the gift of hope they need.  

About 5 years ago, I met my wills and estate lawyer. Working together, I was guided through the estate planning process. I had my will drawn up and YESS was named in my estate. This was a very important step for me, both in my personal planning for the future and for that of Youth Empowerment & Support Services. This legacy gift was an opportunity for me to deepen my commitment to an organization I trust and deeply respect. It’s a great source of satisfaction and peace of mind knowing how greatly the youth will benefit from what may be the most valuable gift I ever give.

In the face of so many critical circumstances and challenges faced by the youth, I am always in awe of their resiliency and strength. It has been amazing to me when I realize how many people I know who accessed YESS when they were teenagers, survived deeply challenging and difficult times, and who are now uniquely successful persons in their own right. I am proud to honor their courage and fortitude and to support futures that will be shaped by their time spent at YESS.


Is YESS already in your will or other estate plans?  Thank you! Please let us know about your plans because it helps YESS plan for the future. Call 780.468.7070 or email Eileen Papulkas in our Development Office and she will add your name to the Legacy Society. Your gift may remain anonymous, if you so wish.

Don’t have a will? You’re not alone! Now is a great time to start planning, and please consider including a bequest to YESS in your estate plans. Contact Eileen for suggested “bequest language” and YESS’s charitable tax number for you to share with your attorney.

Shelly K. Chamaschuk, is 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 their firm’s Wills, Estates & Trusts Team Lead. Shelly kindly agreed to write a guest article for us. For more information on Wills in Alberta, read her article “Do I need a Will?”

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Donor Spotlight: Louise Davis

It is a gift in itself to be able to so eloquently share deeply personal memories that echo resilience in times of hardship, and ultimately, a determination to find wellbeing. Long-time annual donor, Louise Davis, generously reflects on a time when love, belief, forgiveness, and compassion made all the difference in her journey through adolescence and life choices. She is certain of the powerful impact of constructive support, care, and guidance in young lives. Louise shares her confidence in the very real difference that can be made, and the better future that can be built, when a child knows that their well-being is our utmost concern.

 

I was born in 1932, the eldest of three children, at the beginning of the Great Depression. Everyone was poor so there were very few class distinctions. As I recall, until my mother became ill, we were happy with a loving extended family, grandmother, aunts, and uncles. Everyone tried to help us, but it meant that we, the children, had to be separated during school holidays so my father could work. In 1943, when I was eleven years old, my mother died at 34 years of age after suffering terribly with cancer. At that time, although everything was done to help her, medicine was not as advanced as it now is. As the oldest child, I understood what was happening. This affected my entire life and the choices I made.

The death of a parent is a life-altering event for everyone, my father included. He was young, at an age when today many men begin their first marriages. Here he was now with three bereaved children, so after 4 years, he married again. Unfortunately, the relationship between his new wife and we children was not happy or healthy, so we again became separated. My brother always said he could have used YESS at that time.

My sister and I became nurses. I spent most of my apprenticeship caring for people with cancer, but later concentrated on psychiatry. My sister developed a love of babies and worked in maternity. My brother was a businessman. We all valued family above all and built happy, secure homes. I had no children, but my brother and sister together have eight well-adjusted, happy young adults, most of whom have started families of their own. We made certain that our families would not suffer instability by working together, providing unconditional love whenever needed.

There were few community supports when I was a child, but families were larger and stronger in some ways. When my husband and I heard about YESS we decided to be supporters. Children are our most valuable asset. They are trying to build a system of identity, ethics, and beliefs to support themselves as they grow and learn, but they need help to do this. Disruptions at the teenage years are disastrous, especially if they interfere with the love and support they need. Sometimes parents are ill, or ill-equipped to care for their children. At other times they have not had a good experience themselves to pass on to their own children. There are many reasons for family instability and failure. People, like me, who can help should do their best.

I chose annual donations because I use investment income for charitable purposes. It is not until late in the year, after I know what is required to maintain my home and support for family that I have a true picture of funds available for others.

All I know about YESS youth began with my own experiences with family instability. My sister, brother, and I made our way to adulthood with the support of extended family and friends. We were separated, but kept together emotionally so that we could strengthen our ties as adults. We knew we were loved. That is what is so important. Young people need to know that others care about what happens to them personally. I think YESS can do that and that I can help in my small way. Nothing is more precious than our youth.

 


 

The potential to change young people’s lives is exciting! Every gift, regardless of the size, allows YESS to fund the ongoing operations that support the life-changing programs and resources that empower our youth to heal, improve their wellbeing, and find connection and stability. Your gift is a deeply appreciated motion of confidence in the leadership and activities at YESS. Do you already support YESS with an annual donation? Thank you! Please consider the power of an increased gift that would be gratefully received and help us to enhance and grow our capacity to respond to unique and important opportunities that will further serve our youth.

To make your annual donation, visit YESS.org/donate or contact our Development Office at 780-468-7070.  We’d be delighted to speak with you and hear what inspired your gift!

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National Philanthropy Day 2017: Simons

Celebrations are an important part of our lives. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events with our friends and families. National Philanthropy Day is celebrated on November 15 each year by YESS and dozens of other agencies in Edmonton, across Canada, and even around the world. This year we have nominated three of our donors for special recognition on National Philanthropy Day. They joined us at the Shaw Convention Centre where the Association of Fundraising Professionals hosted a feast and a fete for hundreds of donors from Edmonton organizations. Please join us in thanking our nominees for their extensive and expansive support of homeless youth in our community.

Simons

Simons has become deeply invested in taking action through YESS’ Interactive Art program and has made a powerful impact in our youth’s lives. Thanks to our long-term partnership with Simons, the Interactive Art Program was developed and continues to mentor and build the talents of our youth. When they find an art form they are passionate about they are able to use it as a tool to express themselves, learn new things, and set new goals—all skills that can change their lives. Yvonne Cowan, Director of Store Operations at Simons West Edmonton Mall, tells us, “We feel very strongly that reaching out at this level is a small step in advancing the confidence of youth. It allows them to express feelings through their work that they might not be able to verbalize with others. Art is a voice that can never be silenced. Art is a voice that needs to be heard.”

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National Philanthropy Day: The REALTORS® Community Foundation

For National Philanthropy Day 2020 we nominated The REALTORS® Community Foundation, Ledcor Group, Collin and Janel Bruce, No Room in the Inn, and Hillcrest Junior High to recognize their incredible support of YESS!

The REALTORS® Community Foundation

For 26 years, The REALTORS® Community Foundation has both inspired and encouraged Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS) in its delivery of supports and programs for our youth. The team began in 1994 with their Edmonton Bike Nights and Ride for Kids community fundraisers, sponsorship of our annual Golf Classic. We have been the beneficiaries of their time and unique skills with volunteering. They’ve given the gift of enhanced safety to our kids with their investment in the security system upgrades at our Armoury Resource Centre (ARC), pride of home with the upkeep and renovations of our buildings, caring comfort with new furniture within our programs. And, their most recent investment in our Art Therapy Program will help to facilitate connection, self-expression and healing for our youth. The REALTORS® Community Foundation continues to weave a lasting, sustainable legacy within our organization, the lives of our youth, and the community at large. YESS is so grateful for the support of the REALTORS® team for helping to shape our future and strengthen the critical supports for our youth as they they address they address life-changing trauma and homelessness.

“The REALTORS® Community Foundation has proudly supported YESS since 1989 and in 26 of the last 31 years. Their tremendous compassion for youth facing homelessness in the Edmonton Area is evident in their programs and facilities. By meeting youth where they’re at and offering diverse programs, youth of many backgrounds and interests are able to connect to positive paths forward, empowering them to achieve their goals and contribute to a strong, vibrant future for our community. The Foundation has committed to a three-year pledge to YESS in support of their continued efforts to support youth in our city which will bring total giving to the organization to over $300,000 upon fulfillment. REALTORS® care about the communities in which they live and work; through the Foundation they invest in charities, such as YESS, who are doing the important work so needed to create opportunities for all community members to thrive.”

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The Powerful Impact of Memorial Giving

Reflecting on our adolescence invariably evokes intense emotions and memories for each of us. While we remember the positive influences and protective supports that helped us navigate our adolescence, we also acknowledge how difficult it must be to navigate adolescence without these influences and supports.

Bernedette Butler is proud to share some thoughts both as a caring professional and a grateful, loving daughter. Bernedette knows that adolescents experience positive change when passionate donors honour and emulate the kindness, love, and grounding that helped shape their own lives.   

I am co-owner of Lokken College which works closely with government agencies to support people over 18 years old who experience barriers to employment. Many of our students’ employment barriers were caused by struggles during their youth. These struggles often cost them opportunities that others take for granted. I choose to support YESS because it provides youth who experience these challenges a hope for a better tomorrow. YESS builds resilience in traumatized youth by providing shelter and necessary individual and community supports. Resilient youth grow into adults who are better able to use their skills and strengths to meet the challenges and expectations of their future.

Today, when COVID-19 creates uncertainty for everyone, we must remember that the youth who rely on YESS’s services need us more than ever to provide support, caring, and hope. This is why I decided to give my support in memory of my mother. There are many ways to remember those we lost, but a donation to YESS best reflected my mother’s love for children and her hope for a bright future for us all. YESS, like my mother, understands that, by helping youth make that difficult transition from childhood to adulthood, we are creating a better future for them and our communities. We are giving them hope, offering support and showing that we care. 

 


 

In memoriam or “in memory” donations give profound meaning to the person and anniversary that you would like to honor, while making an important difference in a child’s life.  We in turn thank and pay tribute to your generosity by ensuring that your gift helps vulnerable youth in our community and province every day.

The gift that you make today – no matter how big or how small – will help YESS sustain, strengthen and grow our programs as we provide life-changing supports in real time to youth suffering trauma and experiencing homelessness in Edmonton.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity by choosing to support the work of YESS through In Memory Gifts. To make a donation in memory or in honor of someone special, or to celebrate an important occasion, visit YESS.org/donate or contact our Development Office at 780-468-7070.  We’d be delighted to speak with you.

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YESS Champion: Oodle Noodle

Oodle Noodle is not only a local favourite for Edmontonians, but a hometown hero committed to supporting non-profits with food donations. We talked to Jay Downton, President of Oodle Noodle, about what drives them to give where they live.

How does Oodle Noodle give back to the community? Oodle Noodle donates 200 lbs of noodles and sauces every week to charities that help feed our community. We also donate a portion of our in-store sales to local charities. Both programs started at the beginning of the pandemic, and since March, we have donated 17,000 meals worth of food and $110,000 for local charities. This program will forever be a part of Oodle Noodle, and we look forward to working with all these great programs in our city.

Tell us why you choose to support YESS? It warms our heart to know programming like this exists to help youth who experience both trauma and homelessness. It is important everyone knows the vital role that YESS plays in our community. We just want to do our part to support and share that message.

Why is it important to Oodle Noodle to support the community? One of our core values is “Oodle Noodle Loves Edmonton.” It’s great to say that, but it’s more important to back it up with action. This is one of the ways that we want to show our love for Edmonton.

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Get to Know Kate and Peter Morrison!

Kate and Peter Morrison pride themselves on being “prairie people.” Kate was born in Edmonton and raised in Sherwood Park, and Peter is a Saskatchewan farm boy.

They met when they were both working in Regina. After they got married, Kate and Peter worked all across Canada and lived in many different communities. Wherever they were, they believed in helping out local causes through volunteering and, when able, financially.

“Growing up, we both learned the importance of helping others, whether friends, family, neighbours, or strangers,” says Peter.

The Morrison family moved to Edmonton in 2000. Peter joined Canadian Western Bank (CWB) and his work included working with and facilitating CWB’s Community Investment Program. CWB’s focus was and continues to be on local communities, as well as encouraging and supporting its employees to become involved with local organizations. One of CWB’s three primary areas of focus was youth and that was how Peter became aware of YESS.

As he represented CWB at the Homeless for a Night event, the annual YESS gala, at breakfast fundraisers, and at tours of the Armoury Resource Centre, it became clear to Peter that supporting youth could be a personal cause for his family.

“The work YESS was doing struck a chord with us,” says Peter. “Our sons were in their late teens, so we were attuned to that generation. We were fortunate our sons were safe and healthy, but some of their friends were dealing with the effects of substance abuse, sexual exploitation, family breakdown, and suicide.”

The Morrison Family began to support YESS through in-kind donations of new and used clothing, food items, tickets for sporting events, and through financial gifts. It was during this time that Kate and Peter became aware of the Canada Revenue Agency’s gifts of capital property, including gifts of common shares in public companies listed on a designated stock exchange. This program allows donors to transfer stock “in-kind” to a charity of their choice, receive value as a charitable donation equal to the value of the stock on the day of the transfer, and not be subject to a capital gains tax. For Kate and Peter, this was a cost-effective way to meet their personal donation goals while supporting YESS.

“There are many, many people in this world who are in dire straits. We don’t need to look beyond our neighbourhoods to see the needs,” says Peter, still driven by those lessons he learned long ago to help others in the community. “The youth YESS focuses on will hopefully become the people who will enable future generations to make this world a better place. By helping them we are helping ourselves.”

 


 

Everyone who makes a planned gift to Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS), regardless of the amount, enables us to provide life-changing trauma-informed care programs, a warm place to sleep, nutritious meals, medical care, job training and education, and housing support to youth who need it the most. And that is an incredibly powerful thing to do!

If you are holding publicly traded securities which have appreciated in value in your non-registered account (e.g., not held in a RRSP or RRIF) consider making a donation “in-kind” to YESS. Your professional advisors can help you plan wisely for the impact you want to make.

For information and to explore opportunities, please contact Senior Development Officer Eileen Papulkas at 780-468-7070 ext. 298 or email her at eileen.papulkas@yess.org. You many also contact our Development Department at giving@yess.org or fax 780-466-1374. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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