YESS Champion

Winter Recipe from The Organic Box

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

 

Winter Vegetable Strata

Adapted from The Kitchen Paper (thekitchenpaper.com)

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed (1″)

1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup shallots, minced

2 bunches kale, chopped (2 cups)

8 cups crusty bread, cubed (1″)

1 tbsp grainy mustard

1 tbsp fresh thyme

10 eggs

2 cups half & Half cream

1 Cup gruyere, shredded

2/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped, for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet until fork-tender (20ish minutes).
  2. In a heavy-bottom skillet, melt the butter and add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the kale and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Whisk together mustard, thyme, eggs, and 1/2/ & 1/2. Set aside.
  4. Arrange the bread, squash, kale mixture and cheese in layers in the skillet, reserving a handful of cheese for topping.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over everything in the pan. Let the bread absorb the eggs for a few minutes (up to an hour in the fridge).
  6. Reduce the oven to 350. Cook the strata for 45-55 minutes, or until the center is no longer wobbly. Add the reserved cheese and broil for a minute to crisp everything up.
  7. Let cool for a few minutes, top with hazelnuts and serve.
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Interview with YESS Board Chair Robert Blackwell

You’ve served on the YESS board for a number of years. What was it about the work YESS does that first drew you to YESS?

I moved to Edmonton 11 years ago as general manager of a hotel on the south side,and was first introduced to YESS through assisting with complimentary meeting space, rooms, etc. which we were happy to provide. We became more involved as our employees participated in Homeless for a Night several years running, so our employees actually chose YESS as our local charity to support. I always felt that YESS was a great fit for our hospitality team as both strive to provide a safe, welcoming environment and comfort to people in need of shelter.

How does serving on a board empower you to give back to your community?

When I look at my own three kids who have grown into healthy, confident young adults, I am incredibly grateful that my wife and I were able to provide a stable, loving home for them and provide them with opportunities to grow and thrive. Working on the YESS board has allowed me to give back by supporting this amazing organization providing sanctuary and support, walking beside Edmonton youth to help them build successful lives after suffering trauma and homelessness during their most critical formative years.

What has been your most remarkable experience at YESS?

The most remarkable thing about YESS is the staff. I am in awe at how committed and passionate they remain through dealing with challenges and incidents every week, and sometimes every day, that would break the spirit of many people. The shelter they provide, programs they deliver, and relationships they build with Edmonton youth facing difficult realities is truly remarkable and changes lives—not many people can say that about the vocation they have chosen, and we all need to be grateful for the people who make organizations like YESS possible.

What do you wish the community knew about YESS?

I wish everyone in Edmonton understood that homeless youth will grow into homeless adults or suffer even worse fates if we don’t act to help them, and there is not nearly enough focus on youth homelessness by all levels of government or funding for organizations like YESS. YESS provides emergency shelter, residential programs, daytime programs, and many other forms of assistance in three facilities, but 70% of our $4M+ budget comes from fundraising efforts. Executive Director Margo Long is working with similar local agencies to build a network dedicated to helping youth, but we need to change how the community and governments view youth homelessness and provide funding in keeping with the scope and consequences of the problem.

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Fall Recipe from The Organic Box

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

 

Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups flour (mixture of white and whole wheat works well)

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup plain yogurt

3 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely shredded carrots

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Shaved coconut and rolled oats for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins with liners
  2. Sift together flour(s), baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together brown sugar and coconut oil. Beat in the applesauce and yogurt until fully combined. Add the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla.
  4. Using a spatula, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the carrots, raisins and walnuts.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and top with shaved coconut or rolled oats if desired.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool to room temperature before enjoying.
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YESS Champions: Boston Pizza Northern Alberta

We asked the staff in our overnight shelter, Nexus, what it’s like when youth arrive for the night and they all easily agreed on a highlight:

YESS Champions_Boston Pizza

“A big part of Nexus is when the youth come into program and they are excited to know what is for dinner. It creates a habit of coming together despite the harsh realities of their lives and gives them something to look forward to. Most of the time, youth offer to help staff set up for dinner. Once everyone is downstairs together, it gives staff a chance to ask youth about their day in more detail and plans/goals for the week; our youth are usually more relaxed once they’ve eaten. As part of building our youth’s daily life skills, everyone pitches in with chores to clean up the shared space and youth who work the following day get a chance to make a lunch for the following morning, creating time management skills and taking responsibility for themselves.”

Always proud to respond to the needs of the community wherever they can, the franchisees of Boston Pizza Northern Alberta have been strong ongoing supporters of the extraordinary youth who come to YESS. For more than a decade, they have generously provided the resources necessary to support at-risk youth through a variety of channels, including access to counselling, medical care, hot meals, and a safe place to spend the night. From the memorable and complete renovation of our Whyte Ave main kitchen in 2009, food donations, the many hours of volunteer time and providing financial resources to a variety of YESS programs and events, the franchisees of Boston Pizza Northern Alberta exemplify the true meaning of giving in so many ways. And of course, they’ve given us so much pizza for Pizza and Movie Nights for the youth!

Thank you to each of the franchisees of Boston Pizza Northern Alberta, for your generous support!

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A Summer Recipe from The Organic Box!

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

 

Baked Cheesy Zucchini Bites

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded zucchini

2 eggs

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Dump the shredded zucchini onto a paper towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. When zucchini is dry, dump into a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  4. Using a spoon, measure out 1 tbsp portions, tightly packed, onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
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Level Up Gaming League brings tabletop fun to YESS youth

Last year YESS was approached by a brand new organization called Level Up Gaming League. They wanted to share their love of tabletop gaming and all its fun and benefits with our youth. They were connected with the youth at Shanoa’s Place for their very first Dungeons & Dragons campaign with YESS youth!

Level Up Gaming League believes that tabletop gaming has the power to create positive change in our community, and that by harnessing the power of gaming people can be empowered to build better futures for themselves. They provide gaming opportunities for organizations that support at-risk populations. With the groups they work with they encourage the social development of youth and adults through intentional gaming and build a culture of inclusivity, acceptance, creativity, and honesty.

The campaign at Shanoa’s Place took about four months to complete, with sessions held every second week. A few youth were really engaged from the beginning, and a few more participated here and there. All of the youth who participated enjoyed this new and creative experience.

YESS Youth Worker Dolphin noticed a number of new skills the campaign got our youth to practice. Dungeons & Dragons proved to be a powerful tool for teaching the link between choices and consequences. Challenges and riddles were opportunities for the players to cooperate and collaborate on solutions. And for an age group that’s used to the immediacy of video games, the switch to tabletop taught players to be patient.

YESS youth Jared loved the experience: “The Dungeons & Dragons program through YESS has been an exciting experience for me. It allowed me an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and, best of all, live vicariously through my character. My favourite part for sure is getting to experience new ideologies, cultures, and even behaviours through the game. Dungeons & Dragons is so much more than just a pen and paper game, really, and I thank YESS for coordinating such incredible play sessions with the talented Dungeon Master Bryan Sali and his artistic accomplice, James.”

“Working at Shanoa’s Place has been an extremely rewarding experience for us,” says Bryan Sali, President of Level Up Gaming League. “What surprised us was the level of involvement from the staff who joined us at the table and who have become part of a team with the youth who live there. The adventuring party that joins us at our gaming table every other week is an amazing group of people who have worked together to solve problems and build an incredible collaborative story; and we have all learned a few things about ourselves, each other, and how to work together.”

The team from Level Up Gaming League is currently kicking off their second Dungeons & Dragons campaign with YESS youth! This summer they’ll also host tabletop gaming days at our Armoury Resource Centre for youth in our daytime program. Let’s get rolling!

Learn more about Level Up Gaming League!

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The Gift of a Lifetime

“Emma was always a giving, caring, wonderful friend.  She especially wanted to help children as much as she could.”

Shortly before the holidays, YESS received a generous gift in Memory of Emma J. Meharg, who passed in May 2017 at 94 years old. We were inspired to know more about the person behind the gift and Emma’s good friend, Brenda Peachey, shared a bit about this very special, strong, and loving woman.

I met Emma in 1989 in Edmonton and we became fast friends. She was one of the most giving and loving people I have ever known. Emma volunteered at many places such as the Edmonton Police, Meals on Wheels, the food bank, and helping new single mothers. She worked full time into her late 80’s in a job that helped people improve their well-being. Being close with God, she also delivered Communion to shut-ins. Emma was always there to help anyone who needed it. She came from extreme poverty and never forgot to pay it forward.

Emma’s most important concern was the need of children… Her greatest desire was to help benefit children with any monies left remaining when she passed. 

This gift that Emma extends to our youth is the gift of positive independence, which is what drives each of us in our work to help our youth build healthy, connected, and enriched lives.

Says Brenda, “Thank you so much for your lovely letter of thanks to my Emma—I know she would have been so proud and so very pleased knowing all the good that this gift will help facilitate for the youth. I know I am!”

Discover How You Can Help

At YESS, we have the privilege and pleasure of helping individuals, families, and organizations share their generosity and achieve their philanthropic wishes. Learn how you can support YESS and those we serve beyond your lifetime by contacting our Donor Relations team at 780-468-7070 or giving@ yess.org.  Eileen Papulkas or Jennifer Fuller would be happy to discuss the possibilities with you.

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Spring Recipe from The Organic Box

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

Our youth love to try new things–maybe you’re the same! If you’re looking for a fresh recipe full of spring flavours, try out this recipe from our friends at The Organic Box.

Brown Rice and Fresh Pea Frittata

Ingredients:

3/4 cup fresh peas (frozen works well here too in a pinch)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 cup cooked brown rice
7 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet and add the green onions and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the peas and parsley and a splash of water. Cook until peas are bright green, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and then then pea mixture.
  4. Heat remaining 1tTbsp oil in a nonstick pan. Pour in egg mixture, using a spatula to lift the eggs and tilt the pan to let eggs run underneath.
  5. Cover and turn down to low, shaking the pan every few minutes to prevent burning. Cook for about 10 minutes or until eggs are just set.
  6. Remove to a platter and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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YESS Champions: Jim and Elsa-Marie Frazer

Meet long-time YESS Champions Jim and Elsa-Marie Frazer!

Tell us a bit about yourselves!

Jim and I have been married 55 years and have lived in the Kenilworth district 54 of those years! Jim is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants and still does work at home for clients as well as volunteering. I am a former teacher, bridal consultant, and was involved in retail. For the last 16 years I have also spent many hours volunteering at SEESA (Southeast Edmonton Seniors Association) and last year received the honour of a life membership for outstanding service.

How did you first get involved with YESS?

Jim and I got involved years ago with YESS when our daughter (now 50) volunteered there and enjoyed it so very much. We have 2 children, Shelly and David, and 4 very precious grandsons ranging in age from 20-25. Our children and grandchildren are our most prized possessions in life and therefore we cared about the youth at YESS who didn’t have a home. We have donated many different items including food, clothing, bedding, toiletries, as well as monetary donations over the years, even giving donations to YESS as Christmas gifts.

What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about YESS?

Children are our future world and most of them have not caused the situations they are in. YESS gives them that security in their lives so they can succeed in school, music, art, or whatever their interests are and that feeling of self-worth that they don’t have when they come to YESS. At YESS they feel loved and wanted.

YESS is making such a difference in many children’s lives and needs to grow larger with our help and the government’s help. Many youth are involved in drugs and have mental illness problems due to the stress of life and perhaps home situations, but YESS gives them a great haven to help them through their issues.

What inspired you to join the Champions League and become a monthly funder?

In the present economic conditions, grants and other funding are not easy to come by, so we decided to donate monthly instead of giving at different times of the year. This way YESS knows the exact amount they will have to work with. We still will donate at other times too, just to give their budget a little boost!

We chose YESS as one of our charitable agencies as we see and know where the money goes and what great accomplishments are made with the youth who take shelter there. More funding helps to get more staff, which allows YESS to offer more programs for the youth. Donating time as well as money to help our youth—our future world—is so rewarding in your own heart.

We wish all the staff and youth at YESS the very best always. To others who find it in their hearts to donate time and/or money, please do and reap the rewards of helping our future world, our children, to fulfill their dreams and succeed in life.

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St. Boniface School Visits YESS

This guest post comes from the Grade 6A Class from St. Boniface Elementary School and their teacher, Mr. Charrois. During their visit, the students wrote encouraging notes for our youth that were left on the beds in our shelter and posted on the walls in our residential program.

In anticipation for our IB PYP Exhibition and to ignite social change, the Grade 6 students from St. Boniface visited YESS (Youth Empowerment & Support Services) this month. We were served a delicious lunch from Red Seal Chef Tiffany and her amazing kitchen staff. Then we were given a tour of the building by Jen and Mo. Finally, we completed an activity for Edmonton’s youth in need that we left on their beds.

After returning to school, we reflected on the experience and here is what a few of us thought:

St Boniface School Students

 When we went in, it made me feel sad and made me feel way more privileged than before and made me want to be more thankful for things that they don’t have and I do. Now I have a different perspective on homeless youth throughout the city and the world. (Jacob)

I felt glad that we could learn more about youth homelessness so that we can take action and help make a positive change in our community to help kids who are affected by homelessness. I feel so disappointed that parents would abandon their children as soon as they weren’t their responsibility. (Student)

When I went to bed last night, I was happy to know someone will get my letter, and I hoped that it would make an impact on whoever that person was. (Sophie)

We cannot wait to see what actions we can take to help YESS be a safe and caring place for our youth!

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