YESS Champion

#tbt with Foster Park Brokers’ H4AN Team!

We are always happy to see new faces out at Homeless for a Night every year, but there’s something extra special about seeing people come back year after year. The Foster Park Brokers’ team “FPB Homies” has become an H4AN institution!

Here’s an interview with Mariina Heinonen, Partner and Human Resources Consultant at Foster Park Brokers Inc. that we shared last year. She has been the team leader of the FPB Homies for six years and has been participating in Homeless for a Night for 15 years!

Read what Mariina had to say about her experience with H4AN, and how she has turned it into a team-building initiative for her employees.

Q. What inspired you to participate in Homeless for a Night?

A. In 2000, YESS was our charity of choice for an organization that I worked for back then.  It was there that I met Deb Cautley and realized how important of a job YESS was doing. I grew up in the “inner city” and lived in low rental housing at the time (which is where the event is being held, believe it or not). There were a number kids that could have used this type of help/service from my community, but it was not an option back in the 70s. What YESS does is phenomenal and I truly feel that the work being done is so important.

Q. How many years have you and FPB been involved in Homeless for a Night?

A. This will be my 14th year!  In 2010 when I was campaigning at Foster Park Brokers, people started saying they wanted to be part of it…and the next thing I knew, we had a team! Our group recognizes the importance of giving back to our community and especially one that is local, in our backyard. Our president came out a couple of times as well and that speaks volumes!

Q. In 2014, your team, FPB Homies, raised $4932, surpassing your fundraising goal of $4000! How did you do it?

A. We asked through a company e-mail, Facebook, and Linkedin. We challenged each other to see who could raise the most funds. It also helps that our company matches personal donations up to 3 times. Some of us have had barbecues and invited their friends for a fee to raise money for the event. We have even had a change jar, but the best way is just to ask.

Q. How do you inspire your employees to get on board with H4AN and to raise pledges?

A. Our past participants mostly use e-mail and word-of-mouth. They love the event and have no problem talking about how great it is and what a worthwhile organization YESS is. For raising pledges we have a couple of advocates who really try to get the other team members to raise more money!

Homeless for a Night -Telus Field

Q. What is the most challenging part of H4AN?

A. The most challenging part can be staying warm sometimes–and the 6 am wakeup call!  It puts life on the streets into perspective–and let’s be realistic– we have it easy at H4AN!  It is hard to imagine what those kids go through every day  and especially when it is cold and not easy to find food or shelter. The city is not a pleasant place, especially at night and there are not very many safe places to go. We have tried to imagine what we would do if we did not have a homes to go to… where would a person stay or sleep? How would we find food? A lot of these kids don’t make the choice to leave home because it seems like a good idea: their circumstances dictate it. Our hearts go out to them and the challenges they face every day.

Q. What about your favourite part?

A. The best part is the seeing the number of people who participate. It is a great opportunity to meet others in the community who believe in the same thing we do. Hearing a former client’s perspective is thought-provoking and really drives it home. And the entertainment and fire pit are always an enjoyable part of the evening as well!

Q. How did FPB’s participation in H4AN strengthen your team and build camaraderie among your employees?

A. It really makes our folks realize how lucky they are… for their families, their careers, and the homes they have built. We have talked about our own upbringings… some good, some not so easy. It’s amazing how open people are about their lives and we really do learn a lot about each other (without judgement). It also gives us a common goal and that brings people together in ways that they normally might not. There are those who champion different things to do as well… play cards, toss a football around, etc. and that gets everyone in the group involved.

Q. How does being involved with this event align with the corporate culture at Foster Park Brokers?

A. Foster Park Brokers has always believed that family comes first, and if we can’t support something that really speaks to that… well then what is the point? FPB has proven that time and again to our folks who have had family crises. It is easy to give back to an organization that believes the value in this as well. They really believe in  these kids and continue to provide them with support and opportunities to move forward; whether that is finding a home within YESS or returning home to their family, it is the same belief we carry that family comes first.

Thanks to organizations like Foster Park Brokers Inc. and the efforts of the FPB Homies, YESS is able to support youth who are at risk and experiencing homelessness in Edmonton. You and your employees can help too! Involving your employees in giving back through Homeless for a Night is a great way to strengthen camaraderie among your team members while also helping youth facing difficult realities.

Register your team today!

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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

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The Christmas Shoes

It was December20151230-145903.jpg 23, and there was still one Christmas wish we hadn’t yet been able to fulfill. One of our youth always dresses up. His everyday attire is a suit, tie, and torn dress shoes that have seen better days. On this young man’s Christmas wish list was a pair of spiffy, black, dress shoes. Size 12. Triple wide. Not the easiest type of shoe to find, and we hadn’t really had time to hunt for them. It was looking like the new shoes just weren’t going to happen.

And then we read a message that Burkhard, a generous Edmontonian, had sent us through Facebook, offering to purchase the steel toe boots that were on another wish list that we had posted a photo of. If the youth had already received boots, Burkhard said he’d be “more than happy to fulfill someone else’s wish.”

We knew that the next day was Christmas Eve, and that most stores don’t carry triple wide shoes, and that the chances of anyone having time to search for something so specific with such short notice was slim – but we passed the Christmas wish on to Burkhard anyways.

And sure enough, to our surprise, we received a message from Burkhard on Christmas Eve day. It said, “I’m on the hunt for the shoes, so far I have not found anywhere that carries triple wide. Any idea where I might find them?”

The search was on. We googled and made phone calls, trying to find a store that was still open and that carried triple wide dress shoes, while Burkhard searched every shoe store in the mall and drove around to other stores as well.

And just after 4PM on Christmas Eve, Burkhard delivered a pair of size 12, black, triple wide, men’s dress to our shelter, making a Christmas wish come true for one youth experiencing homelessness.

It’s a gift that goes far beyond what is inside the box. The thoughtfulness showed the young man that someone cared; that he was important and had value. And we have no doubt his perfect fitting, Christmas shoes will give him a new sense of confidence and take him great places in 2016 as he works towards stability and independence.

 

Thank you Burkhard, and all the amazing Edmontonians that helped make Christmas miracles happen at YESS.

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YESS Champions: The Home Depot Canada Foundation

The Home Depot Canada Foundation has become personally invested in taking action through The Orange Door Project to bring housing options and hope to the kids that YESS assists.

In collaboration with community partners, thought leaders, Home Depot’s suppliers, customers, and associates, the Orange Door Project focuses on improving spaces through renovations and repairs as well as supporting programs that give youth the resources to build brighter futures.

Not only did The Home Depot Canada Foundation provide YESS with a substantial monetary donation, but they also sent an important message to the many youth that YESS serves – the message that someone cares, and that they’re not alone.

But the hard-working and dedicated team didn’t stop their generosity there. They also sent a crew of over thirty men and women, and covered the cost of all supplies to give YESS an incredible makeover as part of the Home Depot Celebration of Service campaign.

Some of the improvements included tearing out an old patio and rebuilding it, building a new shed, donating a gazebo, replacing the siding on our garage, making landscaping improvements, and installing new flooring.

The Home Depot Canada Foundation is wholeheartedly committed to helping YESS change the lives of the youth we serve. Whether it’s providing funding to provide critical support programs or engaging the volunteer efforts of Team Depot associates to help improve housing accommodations, they’re proud to work with YESS to make meaningful contributions that help young people prepare for independent living.

YESS is eternally grateful for these heroes in orange who stepped up to help us “zen out” our spaces for our clients’ comfort. Having a serene, clean, beautiful space for our kids to lay their heads down at night really sets the tone for prosperity in other aspects of their lives.

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YESS Champion: Collin Bruce Mortgage Mentor Team

Collin Bruce is a driven, dedicated, and generous man surrounded by a loving family and a committed team of professionals. A strong supporter of YESS, he is always looking for what we need and finding ways to help.

As the leader of the #1 mortgage broker in Canada, his team sponsors and attends YESS functions like gala and golf, and they host a barbeque each summer for the youth attending our day programs at the Armoury Resource Centre.

Recently, Collin funded some commercials to profile the situations of youth who are at risk and experiencing homelessness, and the importance of YESS in the community. These features are meant to connect to youth so that they know YESS is there to support them, and also to increase understanding and compassion by the general public for both our youth and our organization.

Collin provides a generous donation every year for recreation, knowing how important it is for youth to de-compress and have some fun; after all, they are still kids. He also understands the harsh realities of our youth and gives monthly to offset the costs of transportation, housing, and supports, knowing that beating poverty is a complex issue and multi-faceted support is a critical element to changing young lives around.

Collin understands the importance of art, both for positive expression and sheer joy. He has purchased our youths’ art for his new offices and each year supports SONiC’s guitar auction, donating $10,000 regardless of what amount the bid reaches. At Christmas, we know we will see Collin with gift cards and treats for the kids.

He learned philanthropy from an early age from his parents, who also find so many ways to support the kids of YESS. We are so fortunate to have Collin Bruce, his family, and his team on our side.

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YESS Champions: Dave and Gwen Burroughs

Dave and Gwen Burroughs are true champions of the youth who come to YESS, and have been for almost a decade.

YESS provides support to youth who are in crisis and experiencing homelessness through a variety of channels ranging from immediate emergency shelter to ongoing support programs and individual guidance, and the Burroughs are with us every step of the way to ensure our kids get what they need to succeed.

Their generosity has provided access to counselling, medical care, hot meals, and a safe place to spend the night for hundreds of youth. Executive coaching funded by Dave and Gwen has allowed YESS to invest in staff so they can give their very best to the kids every day. A gift to a YESS endowment fund enabled the fund to begin paying out this year. Gwen’s paintings have been popular auction items at YESS galas.

Whether it is selling a race car to raise funds for YESS, inviting friends to YESS events, or building the YESS endowment fund to ensure future support for our kids, Dave and Gwen will do just about anything to provide the resources our kids need to succeed, and that makes them true champions of the hundreds of kids who come to us each year looking for help.

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A Girl on a Mission–To Help YESS!

Ava-Lynn Carruthers is a 6-year-old with a passion for helping YESS. She thinks no one should be homeless, especially not kids. Ava has a heart of gold and has helped us at a number of events—doing everything from preparing gifts for gala to working at the water station at the Taste of Edmonton, all with her mom, Brandi, who works casually at YESS.

This summer, Ava saw the YESS summer wishlist and asked her mom and grandma how she could help. She wanted to buy 200 pairs of socks for kids who would need them in the winter, 100 for girls and 100 for boys. With that idea, Ava’s Summer Fundraiser began.

Ava came to YESS to tell us about her idea, and to take a few brochures with her to share with her friends and family. With her mom’s help, she even made an event page on Facebook to kick off her fundraiser. All summer, Ava took a donation box almost everywhere she went. With every small donation, Ava got more and more excited about how many socks she would be able to buy and donate. A few people she talked to even told her that they would be dropping off socks at YESS as well. Ava’s family spread the word, and one of their friends took Ava’s message to her office at Enbridge. She came back to Ava with great news: $3000 would be donated to Ava’s Summer Fundraiser!

Ava went to Enbridge to collect her Very Big Cheque, but there was one more surprise in store. Enbridge donated $5000 for Ava to take to YESS! And that was on top of the 276 pairs of socks Ava had collected from family and friends.

We are very proud of Ava and her fellow donors for this successful fundraiser. Her passion to help others has done so much good in the community. It just takes one little girl with a mission to help so many people!

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