YESS Champion

National Philanthropy Day: ATCO

For National Philanthropy Day 2021 we nominated 5 Days for the Homeless, ATCO, and John Brooks Comapny Ltd., to recognize their incredible support of YESS!

Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS) is honoured to recognize ATCO for their grassroots initiative with ATCO EPIC (Employees Participating in Communities) and leading the way with their philanthropic commitment over the past 10 years. The vision and dedication of ATCO EPIC has made a pivotal impact on the programs and resources that support youth experiencing trauma. ATCO continues to lead with an enhanced sense of community through their countless hours of volunteer leadership with their Days of Caring and numerous employee-led campaigns. ATCO EPIC has helped to strengthen the futures of our youth through their creative fundraising initiatives and generous avenues of support. YESS has been selected as their feature charity in 2020 and has been instrumental in raising awareness of the challenges our youth face.  Even in challenging times of the pandemic, ATCO EPIC’s passion for community is exemplified through creative virtual giving and their annual EPIC Golf Tournament. ATCO’s devotion to making a difference and employee engagement has raised over $325,000 through pledging, events and the corporate match. ATCO has been a champion for YESS with their enthusiasm to build community, provide safety and enhanced responsibility for our youth. Thank you to the ATCO EPIC 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.

Community investment isn’t just a corporate initiative—our employees are passionate about supporting their communities. ATCO EPIC (Employees Participating in Communities) is a long-standing employee-led program, combining volunteerism, fundraising events and individual donations. We listen carefully to what our communities tell us is important to them, and then look for opportunities to provide support that will make the greatest difference. Supporting youth, sports and Indigenous initiatives all have a special place in our hearts.”

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National Philanthropy Day: 5 Days for the Homeless

For National Philanthropy Day 2021 we nominated 5 Days for the Homeless, ATCO, and John Brooks Comapny Ltd., to recognize their incredible support of YESS!

5 Days for the Homeless is a university student initiative designed to raise funds and spread social awareness in support of the issues faced by traumatized and homeless youth. The event, founded in 2005 by students in the Faculty of Business at the University of Alberta, has since become a national event in which 21 universities and colleges across Canada support their local homeless shelters. The 2021, 5Days group, faced the additional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented almost all of the normal events of the 5 Days campaign. The students of this group, however, were very innovative and motivated, and moved the campaign almost totally online. Their campaign was highly successful and Youth Empowerment and Support Services is proud and honored to have such a group supporting our youth.

“The 2021, 5 Days for the Homeless campaign, was able to fund raise over $25,000 for Youth Empowerment and Support Services. The campaign was able to exceed its goals of raising donations and general awareness towards youth homelessness support in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. 5 Days has reached campus wide appeal with volunteers from different faculties helping deliver our message in their respective networks. Our awareness content, educating students about the challenges associated with youth homeless, was able to reach hundreds of followers through our social media and events. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted youth experiencing homelessness as multiple Canadian organizations have struggled to stay connected with them due to a loss of funding, a decrease in staff, and an increase of health concerns. While the 5 Days campaign was typically conducted in person, we decided to pivot online to continue contributing to YESS during these challenging times.”

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National Philanthropy Day: No Room in the Inn

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!

No Room in the Inn

Since 1999, the Edmonton & District Council of Churches has sponsored an ecumenical Christmas fundraising initiative called No Room in the Inn. Each year, church congregations and individuals from many denominations join together to provide financial support to a housing provider for the homeless or people at risk in the Edmonton Capital Region. The annual campaign raises from $40,000 to $70,000. Over the years, the project has raised (cumulatively) over $1 million from the community for twenty different housing projects in the Capital Region! Rooted in values central to Christian faith and identity, their annual campaign expresses to vulnerable persons in our community that they are loved and cared about as valued members of our society. YESS was awarded funds from their 2018 campaign to completely renovate the bathrooms in our Whyte Avenue Nexus program to provide a cleaner environment with increased privacy and dignity. This will help the traumatized youth assisted by YESS to understand they are important and to help them integrate back into the community. Thank you to each member of the Edmonton & District Council of Churches for your generous support!


“No Room In The Inn is a Christmas fundraising initiative sponsored by the Edmonton and District Council of Churches. The name, drawn from the biblical story of Christ’s birth in a stable, reflects our focus on creating or improving housing for those in need. We often support small renovation projects for groups that might otherwise not be able to afford them. EDCC has long been aware of the good work that YESS performs in the community, and we were especially taken with the request from YESS knowing what a significant benefit they would receive from our relatively modest contribution.”

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Thank You to Southview Acura

Thank you to the team at Southview Acura for their commitment and continuous support for our youth.

Their dedication to give back has been essential in creating opportunities for our youth to be integrated back into the community.

Thank you to Southview Acura for your generosity and leadership.

Tell us why you choose to support YESS?

We choose to support YESS as we believe ending homelessness in our community starts with ensuring our youth receive the support and services they need to be successful young adults and integrate into our community. YESS’ mission “To walk beside traumatized youth on their journey towards healing and appropriate community integration” deals with the underlying issues by helping young people find a stable and secure environment to heal. We believe this is a crucial step towards a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

How does Southview Acura give back to the community?

Every year Southview Acura selects several charities that are near and dear to our hearts. Through monetary donations or by collecting supplies we do our best to support our community. This year we have been lucky enough to support Big Brother and Big Sisters, SCARS, Edmonton Food Bank, Basically Babies, Little Warriors, and The Christmas Bureau.

Why is it important for Southview Acura to support the community?

The community of Edmonton and surrounding area have been extremely loyal and supportive of Southview Acura for many years. Our clients are truly the most caring and hard-working people. It is our privilege to give back to the community.

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Thank You to The Orange Door Summer 2021 Campaign!

Thank you to the Orange Door Campaign for raising over $74,000 in support of Youth Empowerment and Support Services. We’re incredibly grateful for the Home Depot Canada Foundation and the local Home Depot Edmonton stores leading the way to end youth homelessness in Canada.

Words cannot express how much we appreciate the community support in donating $2 at the till and making a difference. 

Thank you for being part of the community walking beside youth on their journeys towards healing!


Home Depot Clareview
Home Depot Sherwood Park
Home Depot Skyview
Home Depot South Edmonton Common
Home Depot Strathcona
Home Depot West End
Home Depot Westmount
Home Depot Whitemud
Home Depot Windermere

Home Depot Clareview

Home Depot Skyview

Home Depot Strathcona

Home Depot West End

Home Depot Westmount

Home Depot Whitemud

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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 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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