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A housing rst approach makes a difference for Edmontons homeless

Community Champion
One university students mission to help make poverty history

Road to Change
Wheels and the will to give back dene the Wheaton family

The Cost of Low Literacy

An after-school program builds a skill set that matters

PLUS: 9 Tips

to create a more caring city


SUMMER 2011 SPOTLIGHT The End of Homelessness 18 A HOME OF ONES OWN

After a lifetime of evictions and addictions, Wendy Ward has a place to call home BY CHERYL MAHAFFY

Meet Mark McCormack, president of the University of Albertas Make Poverty History student group Local organizations are committed to eliminating homelessness before this decade ends. Through a housing rst approach, their collaboration is working BY CHERYL MAHAFFY

At Homeless Connect, 300 volunteers provided services to more than 1,000 locals facing homelessness. Heres what happened BY LUKE MUISE



What do you do to make the Capital Region the place you want to live?

A look at a handful of United Ways recent community initiatives

Does Generation Y Volunteer?


Community involvement is a value thats been passed down through each generation of the Wheaton family BY ERIN MCCARTY

Its a sumo success for two small businesses United Way campaigns

Frank shares his story about chronic depression

An innovative program in Goodwills contract division teaches valuable skills to people with disabilities


A program for inner-city kids creates an early love for reading BY CAILYNN KLINGBEIL

ON THE COVER: Wendy Ward has called the same apartment home for the past three years PHOTO: Jessica Fern Facette


Happy 70th anniversary United Way! Reections on the organizations early days


Grey Cup and community supporters both understand the value of working together BY LISA RICCIOTTI



SUMMER VOL 1 No. 1 ANNE SMITH President & CEO United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

UNITED WAY OF THE ALBERTA CAPITAL REGION EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Nancy Critchley ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Jeremy Bibaud, Mike Kluttig EDITORIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE Sheilah Pittman, Anne Smith, Debra Strate, Eric Upton VENTURE PUBLISHING INC. PUBLISHER: Ruth Kelly ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Joyce Byrne ASSISTANT PUBLISHER: Andrew Williams MANAGING EDITOR: Cailynn Klingbeil ART DIRECTOR: Charles Burke ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR: Colin Spence PRODUCTION MANAGER: Vanlee Robblee PRODUCTION COORDINATOR: Betty-Lou Smith DISTRIBUTION: Nick Jamison CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Cheryl Mahaffy, Erin McCarty, Luke Muise, Lisa Ricciotti, Robin Schroffel CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AND ILLUSTRATORS: 3TEN Photography, Trevor Boller, Christy Dean, Jessica Fern Facette, Ryan Hidson, Buffy Goodman, Kelly Redinger, Raymond Reid, Marius Sikorski ABOUT UNITED WAY United Way of the Alberta Capital Region inspires people to come together to make a lasting difference in our communities.

It is a magazine about our community, for our community. Through it, we will explore the most pressing social issues experienced in the region, create meaningful dialogue, encourage support and celebrate the successes. This year marks the 70th anniversary of United Way in the Alberta Capital Region. Together, over the years, we have helped build this community. With your ongoing support, our impact will continue to grow and reach more places and people than ever before. United Way is active throughout the community year-round, leading initiatives, delivering programs and events, working with partners, creating awareness, sharing results and more. What better way to talk about all of these activities than in a magazine, unique to the cause and to our collective efforts? In this issue, we explore a number of current topics, including: homelessness, unsung heroes, stories of struggle and triumph, donor support, and the latest facts about our community. From cover to cover, theres something for everyone. And for our readers, we provide you with choices on the best way to experience the publication by reading this and upcoming issues in hard copy format, or through our digital web-based version. The preference is yours. If you have received a hard copy by mail or via the Edmonton Journal and wish to read online, simply visit to access the digital link and indicate your personal choice.

WE is published for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region by: Venture Publishing Inc., 10259-105 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 1E3 Tel: 780-990-0839, Fax: 780-425-4921, Toll-free: 1-866-227-4276


This premiere edition was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Enbridge Pipelines a longtime community booster, 2010 sponsor of the Welcome Home Program and United Way advocate. We hope you enjoy reading this rst-ever edition of WE Magazine as much as we enjoyed creating it for you.
Printed in Canada by Solisco Printers Ltd. WE is printed on Forest Stewardship Council certied paper Publications Agreement #40020055 ISSN 1925-8690 Content may not be reprinted or reproduced Place FSC Logo Here without permission from United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.




Top of the Class

Meet Mark McCormack, president of the Make Poverty History student group at the University of Alberta
While other students spend their spare hours studying, Mark McCormack
devotes his time to Make Poverty History, a student group at the University of Alberta. The 25-yearold part-time student started the University of Alberta chapter of Make Poverty History in 2007. Not only does McCormack volunteer extensively with the student group, he also works 15-hour days in the oil patch and donates 80 per cent of his income to Make Poverty History.

We: What does the group do? MM: Make Poverty History is part
of the Global Call to Action against Poverty. Its an international campaign that is mobilizing Canadians on issues related to poverty at home and abroad. We have about 1,500 students on our membership list and 60 of those are highly active volunteers. Weve been building a critical mass of interest on the University of Alberta campus and now were trying to spill out into the greater Edmonton community.

variable analysis course for my physics degree and I was motivating myself by going on YouTube to find some cool physics videos. I started watching other videos and the very last one that I watched was of Bono talking about Africa. I decided to look at the website that he was talking about in the video and it was the Make Poverty History campaign. The campaign matched up with my own knowledge and experience; I thought this could actually work and make a real, tangible impact. Thats how I started the club.

campus. These are people who will end up defining the industries that they join. Thats been a highlight for me, as I never would have met those people without my involvement.

We: Whats been the highlight, so

far, for you? MM: I think a highlight would be having access to really inspirational people, like Stephen Lewis. Ive also met some of the most incredible students on the University of Alberta

We: What was your initial motivation for starting the club? MM: I was trying to finish this complex

We: if you could summarize your experiences with Make poverty history, how would you describe it? MM: Its kind of like being on a roller coaster. It makes me feel incredibly fulfilled and it makes me feel like Im on the right path. But then there are parts where its so challenging that it can wear me right out if Im not careful. More than anything else, though, its fulfilling. Make Poverty History is giving people the opportunity to express their full human potential, whether that means learning how to ride a bike or getting food to eat. Helping people to do that is incredibly fulfilling.
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SucceSS By 6 recognizes
that strong collaboration among early learning and care providers is the best approach to maximizing opportunities for children in the community. The initiative focuses on ensuring all Edmonton children from age zero to six have the support they need, and thanks to a grant from the Early Learning Branch of Alberta Education, such early learning and care will be strengthened in even more locations. The grant funds the Early Years Continuum Project, a three year project launched in 2010 that will work in rural and urban locations in Edmonton and Northern Alberta. By identifying gaps in services for families with young children, this project will help build strong working partnerships among service providers so that families can make a smooth transition from one service or program to another. The work will continue through 2013 and the findings from the project will help to build an accessible, comprehensive and cohesive range of early childhood services in Alberta.

BRaIn Food
ReSeaRch ShowS that children with proper nutrition have better academic outcomes and improved behaviour. Thanks to the communitys overwhelming support for Edmontons School Lunch Program, 2,300 children in 12 schools (in both the public and Catholic systems) received a nutritious lunch every day of the school year. The hot, nutritious lunch helps children to concentrate on their schoolwork, not on their hunger.

Did you know there are 53,619 children aged zero to six years living in Edmonton? Learn more about Success By 6s work to ensure these children have the support they need at www.


In 2010, the Honourable A. Anne McLellan chaired the annual United Way fundraising campaign. McLellans enthusiasm for the campaign was complemented by a committed volunteer cabinet team of 36 local business leaders, including Dr. Mike Percy, Dean of the University of Albertas School of Business and vice-chair of the campaign. The community rallied to raise the largest amount ever in the history of our United Way $21.1 million. This figure, an increase of $500,000 over the 2009 achievement, is a testament to the hard work of nearly 5,000 workplace volunteers and the generosity of more than 33,000 donors.
The 2011 United Way campaign is being chaired by Dr. Mike Percy, the 2010 campaign vice-chair. Watch for updates on the 2011 campaign, including information on the kickoff event and other opportunities to become involved.

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Families campaign collected, cleaned and distributed 11,000 winter coats to individuals and families in 2010. That great success is thanks to continued support from Page the Cleaner and hundreds of volunteers.


IN 2010, THE TOOLS FOR SCHOOL program collected supplies and donations to prepare and distribute 9,468 backpacks to 13 school divisions in the Alberta Capital Region. Without this program, nearly 9,500 students would not have had the necessary supplies to start school and work toward academic success.
The 2011 Tools for School program runs from July through September. Donations can be made at Staples or participating Tools for School dropoff locations. Groups of volunteers then package the supplies and all the school kits are ready for students to receive by the rst day of school. To nd out how you can become involved, visit WWW.TOOLSFORSCHOOL .CA

The Coats for Kids and Families initiative began in 1992, due to an overwhelming request from families and individuals with limited resources that were in need of winter jackets. Donations for new and gently worn coats and outerwear will be accepted this fall at United Way drop-off locations and Page the Cleaner locations. visit WWW.COATSFORKIDS.CA

a complete overhaul of their website,, in 2010. With an extensive web and new media strategy in place, United Way launched the new site just one week before the annual campaign kickoff luncheon. The launch included the use of several social media platforms including Twitter (TWITTER.COM/MYUNITEDWAY), Facebook (FB.ME/MYUNITEDWAY), YouTube (YOUTUBE.COM/UWACR), Flickr (FLICKR.COM/MYUNITEDWAY) and Poll Daddy, which will allow United Way to reach a greater audiences in a more entertaining and interactive way. By including a team of United Way staff members as regular website bloggers and video bloggers, United Way is attracting more website visitors, engaging them in conversations, and encouraging their opinions through comments on the blog posts. Between September and December 2010, had 93,000 unique page views, an increase of 12,000 over the same time period in 2009. By December 2010, just four months after the site went live, the My United Way Facebook page had 306 fans and the Twitter account had 403 followers. United Way is now connecting with its stakeholders and new audiences in real time allowing them to participate in spreading United Ways messages throughout their networks across the city, the province, the country and the world.

Dr. Mike Percy



Community ACtion
The resulTs of uniTed Ways
annual campaign are not just measured in dollars and cents, but also in the participation and engagement of the community. In 2010, there was a significant increase in community engagement activities from stakeholders. With more than 2,800 volunteers participating, United Way was successful in hosting a total of 240 Days of Caring an increase of more than 26 per cent over 2009. Considering there are 365 days in a year, United Way is especially proud of this collective community action.

Red tie GAlA

uniTed Way held the Annual Awards of Distinction Red Tie Gala, on February 24, 2011 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. The event was an opportunity for United Way to say thank you to the many donors and volunteers who have shown dedication to their community throughout the year. This years event saw people decked out in their finest red apparel, accessories or footwear. The evening included presentations, with a variety of awards that highlighted the 2010 campaign achievements of corporate donors, employee groups, organized labour, public service employees and volunteers.

240 dAys of CARinG

a day of Caring is a hands-on volunteer
opportunity that provides value to the community and increases awareness of social issues. United Way understands that community members and organizations make decisions and take actions that strengthen communities, families, and individuals when they have the opportunity to learn, firsthand, about the issues. They also believe that it is their responsibility as a community builder to connect people to the agencies and support that surround them, helping the most vulnerable. They invite citizens to experience United Ways impact in the community and explore, exchange and experience through a Day of Caring.

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Volunteer rate by age
58% 40% 52% 48% 40% 36%

Who Cares?
Its an oft-repeated maxim: Gen Y doesnt care about anyone but themselves. But does that mean its true?
Does Generation Y volunteer? While those born
in the 1980s and 1990s are commonly characterized by their affinity for technology and an associated lack of involvement with their real-life communities, the latter, at least, is patently false. According to the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participation, which recently released its 2007 findings, young Canadians aged 15 to 24 at the time of the survey were more likely to volunteer than Canadians in any other age group (58 per cent volunteered). Those respondents were born between 1983 and 1992, right in the middle of the generation that supposedly doesnt volunteer. At the St. Albert Community Information and Volunteer Centre, Glennis Kennedy helps people of all ages and backgrounds find volunteer opportunities, including many people in their early 20s and 30s. Kennedy is a coordinator at the Volunteer Centre, which is a matchmaker that connects those who want to volunteer with local organizations. Last year the Volunteer Centre, which is supported by United Way, helped 1,200 people find volunteer positions. We have some incredible volunteers in that Generation Y age bracket who sit on our board, Kennedy says. They started volunteering as youth and having continued on. Its amazing in terms of what they contribute and give to our organization. Many people in Generation Y were required to volunteer during their school years and, once they tried it, says Kennedy, they became hooked. It becomes a part of them, Kennedy says, and they continue on. The Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participation also found the following: Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 24 years at the time of the survey volunteered, for an average of 138 hours annually.

15 to 24

25 to 34

35 to 44

45 to 54

55 to 64

65 +

Volunteer rate by organization

age 20 - 24 9% 10%

age 15 - 20 Young Canadians 28% 11% generally reported the same types 7% of barriers to 3% 15% volunteering as older 6% 11% Canadians, including 15% 6% not having the 4% 7% time, being unable 3% to make a longterm commitment education and research health and feeling that no sports and recreation deVelopment and housing social serVices enVironment one asked them to religion volunteer. Young Canadians are SOURCE: Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating more likely to perform mandatory community service volunteered increases. While 58 than any other age group. The per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds 15- to 19-year-olds who performed volunteered, compared to 36 per mandatory community service cent of people aged 65 and over, were most likely to be required to those 65 and over volunteered a volunteer by their school (66 per lot more. People aged 65 and over cent), the voluntary organization volunteered an average of 218 itself (20 per cent), or some other hours, compared to an average of body (14 per cent). The 20- to 138 hours for 15- to 24-year-olds. 24-year-olds were most likely Almost 12.5 million Canadians required to volunteer by their volunteered for charitable and school (36 per cent), the voluntary nonprofit organizations in the organization itself (24 per cent), one-year period preceding the their employer (17 per cent) or survey. Thats 46 per cent of the some other body (23 per cent). population aged 15 and over. The study found that, generally Those Canadians volunteered speaking, the likelihood of almost 2.1 billion volunteer hours volunteering decreases with in 2007, which is equivalent to age while the number of hours almost 1.1 million full-time jobs.
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What do you do to make the Capital Region the place you want to live?

HE CAPITAL REGION IS A GREAT PLACE TO BE. Thats the overwhelming sentiment we heard when we turned to you the people who live in the Capital Region with one simple question: What do you do to make the Capital Region the place you want to live? We posted that question on our website, Twitter account and Facebook page. The responses were varied, but a sense of responsibility resonates throughout all of them. Many local individuals and families give back, and they proudly shared their community involvement with us. Weve highlighted these answers below with the intent of providing ideas for everyone in the Capital Region to continue making this city both a great place and the place they want to be. Thank you to the Edmonton Journal for posting this question on their Facebook page, which helped us to collect several of the responses on the next pages.




Our family gives of our resources knowing that we are supporting essential programs that are helping individuals who need it. We also give understanding that there are leaders in our region who are committed to thinking bigger, identifying approaches to prevent issues and stopping the cycles we are seeing. We also try to impart simple, yet important, values to our young children. This includes helping our friends when they ask, or when we see they need help; respecting our environment; living the adage be here; and making the most of the time we have together as a family by playing, reading, talking, sharing and laughing. It is my hope that giving back and upholding important values are shared by my fellow citizens as essentials to this great community. - The Johnson Family

I personally sit on two boards that govern not-forprots and another three committees that raise funds for health-related issues and social service agencies. I am also a supporter that tries to get involved in things that make the region a better place to live, like festivals. We also offer our employees the opportunity to use some work time and work resources to each support a not-for-prot they believe in. I used to work at United Way and I can say the experience taught me that it takes the support of citizens to make this the place we want to work, live and play in. Many great leaders showed me the way years ago and I have never looked back. Dean Heuman (@dheuman)

I try to add the Aboriginal perspective in everything I do or plan. The Aboriginal culture is vastly diverse and we are growing at a rapid pace.... What better way to celebrate our diversity than put our own cultural perspective into our lives! Shannon Souray




I dont litter, I dont spit on the sidewalks, I volunteer, I help people when I can and I walk or take the bus almost everywhere. I patronize local stores (I love our little local bakery/deli, restaurants, dog groomer and cobbler!) and participate in the community. I would love to see more murals in Edmonton and it would also be nice to see more permanent art installations and more people-friendly xtures like plants, benches, etc. Making the city a thing of beauty and a joy to walk around in would go a long, long way. - Franki Harrogate

I ght for what I believe in. I am involved with homeless counts and Homeless Connect, as I nd that homeless people are human beings just as much as you and I. What I enjoy about living in the Capital Region would be the diversity and that I can have my own opinion in matters that matter to me. - Carrie Kadatz

I respect my city and teach my girls to do the same, for example, not littering, being nice to others and not damaging property. - Stephanie Gagne Chorney

I own BMP, an Aboriginal company that believes in promoting the role models of the Native community of Edmonton. I use my photography skills to nd these people and encourage them to be bigger than they thought possible as a sort of unwritten mission statement. Native people make up a large percentage of the Edmonton community per capita. - Trevor Boller (@trevorboller)

I volunteer in my community and school and I vote appropriately. Louise Consterdine

I take care of the environment, like no littering and recycling various things to make Edmonton as clean as possible so people can enjoy the beauty of the city. I hate littering! - Kristina Wildeman





Sumo Success
Creativity and adaptability help two small businesses on the fundraising front
When Justin Kidd offered to donate money to rent tWo costumes for office sumo Wrestling, his co-workers
at RGO Office Products were unsure of what to expect. The day the costumes came in, I put one outfit on and walked around the office, says Kidd, installations manager and safety director at RGO. I made sure everybody was interested and laughing about it. Kidds approach worked and that afternoons office sumo wrestling, a fundraiser for the companys United Way campaign, was a memorable success. Kidd and his co-workers gathered in RGOs warehouse around a sumo wrestling ring and donated five dollars to don a costume, step inside the ring and fight. It was the most fun that anyone has had here in fundraising, Kidd says. When we were done, everybody was asking if we could do it again. Kidd, who chaired RGOs United Way campaign last year with coworker Casey Jones, knows firsthand the challenges of encouraging a small staff to open their pockets for a fundraising campaign. He credits the success of RGOs campaign which raised $8,652.64

last year to fun events like sumo wrestling. Everybody got to laugh and enjoy themselves, Kidd says of RGOs 50 employees. For other small businesses interested in starting a United Way campaign of their own, Kidd suggests leaning on United Way staff members, just like RGO did. The United Way team came and met with us whenever we wanted to discuss all the opportunities out there and to fill our heads with ideas, Kidd says. Theyve seen a lot of different things over the years and that was very helpful to work off of. We got to choose and twist the ideas to work with our own organization, but relying on United Way to help us was huge. With 31 employees, Umicore Canada Inc.s Fort Saskatchewan office faces struggles similar to RGOs. Supporting United Way goes back over 20 years at Umicore, a global materials technology group, but over those years, Umicore has changed in size. Conducting a themed campaign, as was once the standard, was successful when there were more

people who could become involved. When we downsized to a smaller group, it was a little more difficult to sustain that level of activity, says Bruce Sutherland, managing director at Umicore Canada. While Umicore still partakes in a fundraising campaign, albeit one that is a little more scaled back than it used to be, the company has found a way to adapt and use its smaller size to its philanthropic advantage. We knew that we couldnt do the level of fundraising that we used to do because of the smaller group, so we decided another way we could get involved was to donate our time, Sutherland says. Umicore employees began to volunteer together, including packing school supplies into backpacks for United Ways Tools for School program. The initiative provides filled backpacks to students from families who have limited resources. Additionally, bringing employees together to volunteer for the cause turned the day into a team-building activity, one that helped bring the small group of employees closer together.
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KING OF CARS: The Wheaton family, including Will Wheaton, Don Wheaton III and Don Wheaton Jr. has been supporting United Way for over 25 years.




Community involvement is a value thats been passed down through each generation of the Wheaton family

HE WHEATON FAMILY NAME may be most synonymous with the automobile industry, but the large family has a cause besides cars that they keep equally close. Three generations of Wheatons have been donating their time and money to United Way for over 25 years.
My father always said that out of every eight-hour work day, one hour was always to be spent giving back to the community, says Don A. Wheaton Jr., one of Don H. Wheaton Sr.s eight children. He passed on to our generation to carry on that support and we are passing that on to the next generation. Family patriarch Don Sr. opened the Whyte Avenue location of Don Wheaton Chev Olds 50 years ago. Today, Wheaton GM is the largest General Motors merchandiser in Canada, with 19 western Canadian dealers. The Whyte Avenue location remains the companys agship store. Don Sr.s story starts in Saskatchewan, where he was born in the 1920s. After spending time in the Air Force near the end of the Second World War, Don Sr. married Marion in 1948. The young couple moved to Porcupine Plain, where Don Sr. became a partner in the towns general store. In 1955, an opportunity to become part-owner of a GM dealership in town became available. The next year, when Don Sr.s two partners decided they were not cut out for automotive sales, Don Sr. became the sole owner.





STRONG EXAMPLE: The Wheaton Group of Companies encourages giving to United Way with a matching program for employees.

Don Jr. recalls the story his father, who is retired and spends most of his time in Florida with Marion, told him about entering the auto industry. Dad was asked to go work for the head ofce but he liked being in sales, says Don Jr. So they moved him to Edmonton and he opened up the Whyte Avenue location, which weve had ever since. Weve maintained the original structure of the building and the neon lights and Don Wheaton Chev Olds is about to celebrate our 50th year. Much of Don Sr.s family followed him into the auto industry, and theyve similarly followed his lead when it comes to supporting United Way. Don Jr. doesnt know the exact year his father became involved with United Way, but says that his father was truly sold on the way

the organization looks after the community as a whole. I remember him saying that United Way was such an efcient way to help the most people, because they make sure the money and time goes to all the places it is needed, says Don Jr. He didnt need to worry about guring out where to give the money they handled that part. Thats why he has supported it for so many years. Don Sr. was a member of the United Way board of directors from 1985 to 1988. He was also the United Way campaign chair in 1985 and exceeded the campaigns goal of $5,708,835 by over $80,000. Don Sr. spent many years as a United Way account executive. The Wheaton familys involvement with United Way doesnt stop there, though. Two more generations of



Wheatons have been loyal supporters of United Way and theyve extended that sense of community giving inside the business. The Wheaton Group of Companies, of which Don Jr. is president, has interests in automotive, retailing, aviation, insurance and banking. We have a matching program with our own employees, so we help them in their support of the community, Don Jr. says. Its an interesting culture its always around us. We have very dedicated people here. Don Jr. says that his parents set a strong example; he and his siblings grew up seeing first-hand what generosity and investing in people can do. As youngsters, Don Sr. also took each of his eight children to work with him at the dealership; now all eight children are shareholders and five of the second-generation Wheatons are involved in the day-to-day operations of the car business in Western Canada. Don Jr. is working to engage the third generation, too. Don Jr.s son, Don C. Wheaton III, is one of the more than 30 Wheaton grandchildren and one of four of Don Jr.s children. The third generation Don Wheaton now works with his father and uncle, Will Wheaton, for the Wheaton Group of Companies in a legal consulting capacity. Don III, who returned to Edmonton last year after studying in the United States and Toronto, has recently accepted a position on the 2011 United Way Major Donor Cabinet. Its an honour and a really good opportunity to give back to the community, Don III says. Its a great way to get involved and connect. Though he hasnt started a family of his own yet, Don III is already planning to keep the Wheatons relationship with United Way alive for many years to come. I believe generosity and giving to those less fortunate is an important value to instil in future generations, just as my family has done for many years, Don III says. Jadeene Wheaton, who married second-generation Will Wheaton in 1984, joined a family with a strong history in both automobiles and philanthropy. I met my husband and we fell in love, and the bonus was inheriting his family, says Jadeene, who met Will at the dealership he ran in suburban Vancouver. I had bought a car from him and I had some issues with the car and I had to take it back and thats how I met him, Jadeene says. The couple moved to Edmonton in 1993 and Jadeene has since become heavily involved with United Way. She recalls an evening discussion with her father-in-law, Don Sr., who asked her if shed be interested in continuing the

Wheatons legacy of support. At the time I really didnt know that much about United Way, Jadeene says. But it has been a cause that my fatherin-law and mother-in-law have adamantly supported for many, many years, and I wanted to get involved. Jadeene, a mother of five, I believe generosity and giving has volunteered to those less fortunate is an a lot with United Way over the important value to instil in future past five years. generations, just as my family Shes served as has done for many years. a United Way cabinet memberat-large and volunteered on the Major Gifts Team. United Way is such a wonderful asset to the community, because they help so many different partners and give help to so many of those less fortunate, Jadeene says. While joining the Wheaton family has spurred Jadeenes involvement, shes also been a volunteer YMCA fitness instructor for over 27 years. When I give back, its so gratifying to know that Ive made a difference in someones life, Jadeene says. A smile on someones face means so much to me. Just like her family members encouraged her to become involved, Jadeene is also engaging her five children to give back to their community. Her children range in age from 13 to 24 and her oldest daughter already volunteers with the YMCA. They know that giving back is good, says Jadeene of her children. Engaging that next generation and continuing that relationship is really special to the family. Giving back to United Way is our way of thanking the community that has been so good to us. I hope my children continue this as they get older. The Wheaton family which now has 56 members, including three great-grandchildren continues to support their community. Jadeene Wheaton attributes the loyal generosity that extends through each generation to the familys strong foundation, Marion and Don Wheaton Sr. Dons an incredible businessman and much of his success comes from his honesty and hard work, says Jadeene. Both my father-in-law and mother-in-law have acknowledged that they have been blessed in many ways, and they continue to share that success with the community who supported them.
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HOME SWEET HOME: Wendy Ward relaxes in the apartment shes called home for three years.




Home of ones own

Edmontons Housing First initiative is a focused effort to bring people experiencing homelessness off the streets. For Wendy Ward, an apartment of her own helped break the cycle of drugs, crime and hopelessness
by Cheryl Mahaffy Photography by JessiCa Fern facette

ENDY WARD WALKED INTO THE JASPER PLACE HEALTH and Wellness Centre (HAWC) three years ago in search of a way off the streets. Inside the community-driven drop-in centre, she felt a warmth of spirit that drew her back and gave her the will to act. Battling crack cocaine and other addictions, she wasnt a landlords ideal tenant. Yet within a month she had an apartment with the help of Hope Missions Rapid Exit program, which has since become part of Edmontons multi-agency Housing First initiative.
Ward still lives in that same west Edmonton apartment a feat worth celebrating after a lifetime of evictions. This is her refuge, a cocoon complete with a life-sized stuffed tiger and cub (in safe-keeping from a friends rambunctious grandchildren) and a menagerie of other second-life treasures, stuffed and otherwise. Each morning, she smudges to encircle herself with protection before venturing out. Im an alcoholic and a druggie, she says, matter of fact. But Ive been clean now for 17 years from alcohol, five years from crystal meth and about two years from crack cocaine.


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The end of Homelessness



WORKING IT OUT: Ward now spends as many as four days a week at HAWC.

Since getting a home, Ward has spent more time than ever Edmonton and was not yet nine when her mother died. She at HAWC often four days a week. With her ready laugh and went from foster home to foster home and at age 14, she set quick wit, the slight, curly-haired reball is a welcome regular. out to explore her Cree heritage. Instead, Ward got pulled into Not only because she does drinking and drugs. She was laundry, helps with meals married at 18 and had her Wendy Wards journey gives others hope and showers, and nds rst of ve sons at 21. But that a home might someday be within their just-the-right-size clothes addictions turned her life power. When they look at me, says Ward, for people while sorting into a chaotic jumble of failed they think, Well, if she can get off the streets, donations, but because she relationships, evictions and knows how to listen. She children put in care. get straight, get sober hey, I can too. recalls a conversation with a Then one day Ward said man who got his own place enough and hitchhiked and found a job up north after cycling through depression and from Lloydminster to Edmonton for a month of detox followed joblessness. Its all because of you, Wendy, he said, to which by rehabilitation at Henwood Treatment Centre. With the help she replied, No, youve done it. I just sat and listened. of an aunt, she found a place to live and registered for public Wards own story is all too familiar. Ward was born in assistance to pay the bills.




But for Ward, as for so many caught in addictions, getting clean was not a onetime event. During several years in Camrose, crystal meth came knocking, claiming all her teeth. Seeing the drugs power to destroy bodies, cause hallucinations and incite violence, she found the willpower to quit but then cocaine became her demon. Moving back to Edmonton, she ran a crack house, lost everything, stayed at the Womens Emergency Accommodation Centre until being kicked out, then surfed from couch to couch, paying room and board with cocaine. Increasingly, she slept on shelter mats or outdoors, trying desperately to keep her dwindling cache of books, papers and keepsakes safe. Thats when she walked into HAWC. Sitting down, she saw her own struggles reflected in the faces around her and felt a good vibe in the people running the centre. I knew this place was going to help, she says. I didnt know when or for how long, but I knew it was going to help me out. Waking up soon after on a Hope Mission mat, she was ready to say yes when Pete Ages of the Rapid Exit program stopped by to ask whether anyone wanted a place to live. He found an apartment in a complex she had often pictured herself living in, took her to meet the landlord and paid the first months rent. Meanwhile, HAWC matched her with a beautiful lady named Valerie who helped her find furniture, settle in, learn to budget and connect to other services. Besides volunteering, Ward is now on the HAWC payroll, cleaning apartments after clients move out. Her cleaning partner lived in a tent outside for a year before Ward took her in and helped her get off drugs and onto appropriate medications. She has a home now too, and she loves it, Ward says. And I got her a job, working with me. Wendys journey gives others hope that a home might

someday be within their power. When they look at me, they think, Well, if she can get off the streets, get straight, get sober hey, I can too. Those who succeed make sure she knows. They say, See, I can do it too, Wendy. Youre not the only one. And I go Good for you! I love hearing that. Ward also volunteers at Homeless Connect, a twice-ayear event at the Shaw Conference Centre where low-income citizens have one-stop access to a wide gamut of services. In years past, she was in the line outside, waiting to get in. Now shes directing people to whatever they need: haircuts, immunizations, medical care, clothes, laundry, books, help filing taxes, employment counselling and of course, information about housing. For some who have lived on the streets, moving inside can feel isolating and claustrophobic. I have a friend who to this day will not sleep in a bed, Ward says. But for me, it was a joy just to have that key in my hand saying this is my place. And you know what, Im not lonely at all. All the people at the centre are my friends. Theyve brought me through a lot of stuff and helped me connect with God. Theyre my extended family. Ward is also reconnecting with her blood family, including her five sons. On Mothers Day weekend, and again on her 51st birthday a few days later, her cell phone and landline were both ringing with best wishes. She loves recalling how her eldest son walked back into her life, five-year-old daughter in tow. Volunteering for Bent Arrow at the time, Ward was setting up tables for a banquet when he entered and called her mom. Only then did she learn that the banquet involved a pipe ceremony for the two of them, arranged by an aunt. And they all kept me in the dark that long, she marvels, her laugh bursting out as it often does. Her son fights forest fires, she adds: He makes me proud and hes proud of me. Ward knows her limits. I dont look ahead. With my addiction, I can only deal with one day at a time, she says. If I dont do it this way, Im going to fall. And thats the last thing I want to do. She also avoids her former haunts. I cant even go downtown, she says. Ill go to Edmonton Centre, but I cant go to the library or 96 Street, because I know a lot of people who hang out there. Wards middle son, who used to blame her for leading him astray, recently teamed up with his brother to give her a huge painting of an eagle, wings outspread before a mountain backdrop, diving down as if to fish. Thats you, Mom, he told her. You remind me of that eagle, determined to grab something in life. I always wanted to be a role model to my kids, she says. Now they know that I am.
2011 SUMMER we

The end of Homelessness


FACING HOMELESSNESS: At Homeless Connect, an event that offers a range of services for locals experiencing homelessness, Trevor Boller took portraits. Pictured on this page is (clockwise) Kathy Anderson, Shane Dowling and Noreen Jackson along with her grandchildren.




Local organizations are committed to eliminating homelessness before this decade ends. Through a housing rst approach, their collaboration is working

ICTURE YOURSELF HOMELESS. PERHAPS youre mentally ill and need to take certain medications at set times to avoid spiraling down to a dark place. Perhaps youre surviving by prostitution and regularly cycle through the courts. Perhaps youre addicted to alcohol or drugs and chasing your next x. Imagine trying to overcome any of those challenges, let alone all three, when you dont even have a place to keep yourself and your essential belongings safe.
Anne Smith, United Ways CEO, recalls confronting such a scenario as part of a mayoral initiative that brought together leading citizens to the table with the audacious mandate of nding a way to eliminate homelessness in 10 years. Our approach has always been You cant get into a home until you deal with your issues, but I realized you cant deal with those issues until youre housed, Smith says. That was an aha moment for me more like a duh moment. It really is common sense. Such common sense led Mayor Stephen Mandel to announce a Committee to End Homelessness, which is chaired by committed

Edmontonians Eric Newell and Linda Hughes, to propose a paradigm shift in how we respond to the citys seemingly unstoppable upward trend in homelessness. The resulting 10-year plan, A Place to Call Home, calls for a Housing First approach in which we rst help people nd permanent homes and then surround them with the supports they need to battle their demons and join community life. City Council unanimously endorsed the plan in January 2009; just two months later, the Government of Alberta adopted its own 10year, $3.3 billion plan to support housing rst initiatives in the provinces seven largest cities. Housing First was born in New York City in the 90s and has since spread to Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere, helping thousands exit the streets. As the paradigm spreads, the evidence builds that this approach costs just a third as much as sticking with the status quo. People without homes not only need shelters, but are disproportionately high users of ambulances, emergency rooms, hospital beds, court time, prison cells and social services. None of those come cheap. The economic argument is critical, says Smith, who now




The End of Homelessness


Committee to End Homelessness, giving outrage an outlet. Three years later, Edmonton has not only a focused strategy and millions of dollars a year from multiple levels of government, but enthusiastic support from many quarters, including some previously aloof to the issues of homelessness. Thats as it should be, Smith says. If were truly going to get at some of these really wicked issues, we have to do it together. Co-ordinating the charge is Homeward Trust, created in 2008 by amalgamating the Edmonton Housing Trust Fund and the Edmonton Joint Planning Committee on Housing. When the plan to end homelessness was announced, we hit the ground running, building the bridge as we walked across it, says Executive Director Susan McGee. Government funding, capital project proposals, landlord relations, staff training, client referrals, strategic planning and outcome tracking all ow through this ofce in downtown Edmonton. The frontline work of connecting people with homes and support is done by dedicated teams at agencies that had already earned the trust of homeless people. For these organizations that have for years identied the inability to house somebody as a real problem, this is an incredible Abdi Ali opportunity but also a big responsibility, McGee says. Its a harm reduction model, and there are tensions around that; people intuitively think somebody needs to be clean and chairs a Homeless Commission of leading citizens set up by city sober before they can have a home. But its been demonstrated council to champion Edmontons plan to ght homelessness. It over and over again that the alternative doesnt work. doesnt make sense to do anything else. Two years into the 10-year plan, teams have successfully Even before Edmontons Housing First plans took shape, housed more than 1,300 individuals. (Across Alberta, about frontline agencies such as Jasper Place Health and Wellness 4,000 people have been helped under the Housing First banner.) Centre and Bissell Centre were Potential clients are screened to following a similar philosophy, see if theyre capable of learning Its very exciting to move to a scrambling to nd affordable to live independently and willing place where were saying we have apartments and the wherewithal to to have a support worker visit to stop managing homelessness keep people in them. Boyle Street once a week. They move into Community Services did the same for neighbourhoods of their choice, and end it. people in the tent city that sprang up with their rst months rent near its ofces during the boomtime paid and subsequent months summer of 2007. topped up so that housing eats up no more than 30 per cent of Smith sees the tent city as a tipping point that galvanized their income. They set their own goals, which might include community-wide desire to stop homelessness. For years, the reconnecting with family, conquering addictions, nding numbers were swelling. The tally had tripled since 1999, when employment, learning to budget or simply keeping their place concern about this issue led to Edmontons rst homeless count. reasonably clean. And theyre connected with resources for The number of homeless people in the city topped 3,000 in 2008 meeting those goals. More than 85 per cent of clients are staying not counting those hidden in the shadows. But it was when the housed, a number thats better than the norm in Housing First tent city hit the headlines that the numbers gained a human face. initiatives. All of a sudden it was so visible and so real, Smith says. People The intent is to provide the right support for the right said its not right in our city to have this travesty. person at the right time. Thats particularly complex when Soon after, Mayor Mandel launched the Edmonton serving aboriginal people experiencing homelessness, who hail




from numerous tribes and are at various stages of identifying with their culture. A top-down this is what you should do to get from here to there approach has proven to be utterly ineffective. Instead, support needs to be constantly available and provided in a manner that demonstrates respect for the client. People who are chronically homeless and need direct access to considerable clinical care and support (often due to mental health issues coupled with addictions and other health problems) receive wraparound services from a multidisciplinary Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team. To date, there are two ACT teams: DiverseCity Housing for people experiencing homelessness embroiled in the justice system and the Boyle McCauley Health Centres Pathways to Housing Program. Bob Haubrich leads the Pathways team, which includes

Rob Sterling with son Ethan and daughter Grace.

social workers, a psychiatrist, a medical doctor, nurses, an occupational therapist, recreational therapist, and expertise in supported employment, addictions and leisure skills. We have 47 clients now, and they average a history of well over seven years of living on the streets, he says. While three have left the program, and a few others havent been able to live on their own, weve had some really incredible stories. Ninety per cent of our clients are no longer homeless and have maintained their home, 20 of our clients have been housed for well over a year. We have people who were homeless for 25 years who are doing quite well. People who want a home but need less clinical support work with one of six Intensive Case Management (ICM)

teams. Based at Bill Rees YMCA, Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, E4C, Hope Mission and Jasper Place Health and Wellness Centre, these teams provide case management services connecting clients with needed services in the community. A key challenge is nding professionals willing to make time in their caseloads for clients whove lived the hard life of the streets. A clinical assessment team at the George Spady Centre promises to help ll that gap with onsite expertise and connections to experts. Team leaders meet every two weeks. Those individuals really are the driving force behind this work, McGee says. By capturing their learning and innovation, were starting to build a community of practice. Providing clinical and support work on an outreach basis is hard work. Were always on the go with lots of driving because our clients are housed throughout the city, in areas of their choice, and none of our clients have chosen to remain in the inner city where our ofce is, Haubrich says. And when theyre rst housed, they have many complex needs to be dealt with. Theyve been in survival mode, not taking their medication, not worrying about that pain in their side or drinking it away. Now that they have a home, these other needs surface and require attention. Having their medication stabilized and their wounds dealt with will pay off eventually, but it requires support and services to get to that point. Recovery isnt linear. Its often two-steps-forward one-back, so that creates extra work and time for both the clients and staff. All teams track their work in a central web-based system, building up the capacity to spot trends and best practices. As the learning expands, so does the work, tapping community networks. For example, a Welcome Home program is emerging to counter the loneliness and isolation clients experience in their new neighbourhoods. At the initiative of Archbishop Richard Smith, a member of the Homeless Commission, 100 leaders from 23 faith traditions have signed a commitment to ending homelessness and are building the Welcome Home program. The program partners volunteers with the newly housed in order to build companionship and a sense of community, and both Enbridge and United Way of The Alberta Capital Region have pledged their support for the program.


The End of Homelessness


Thats just one of the ways United Way is working behind the scenes to advance the battle against homelessness. Were a resource mobilizer, says CEO Smith, and were trying to model the whole concept that ending homelessness will take all of us. Besides carrying the Housing First story to workplaces and other potential partners, the organization is helping to pilot a new ID bank for those whove lost their identication and United Way is hugely invested in Homeless Connect, a one-stop bonanza of essential services that takes over the Shaw Conference Centre twice a year. Weve always been very involved in supporting people who are homeless, Smith says. Its very exciting to move to a place where were saying we have to stop managing it and end it. A full 80 building owners and property managers have also joined the efforts to end homelessness, renting 400 apartments all across town to Housing First tenants. Boardwalk Rental Communities, winner of a 2011 ROOPH (Recognizing Outstanding Organizations and People in Housing) award for housing partnerships, is not only adding more units to the 200 dedicated to this cause, but offering rent reductions. Even so, there are not enough units available to meet demand and as the economy heats up again, that gap could widen. There are certainly bottlenecks around affordable housing, and the common denominator among the homeless is poverty, McGee says. Were working with the City to leverage dollars for affordable housing that will be available for the long term no matter what the uctuations in the market are. Requests for housing are also outstripping frontline staffs ability to respond. If we had stafng capacity, we could easily be four times bigger than we are today, says Matt Ashdown, whose team at the Bissell Centre is supporting 80 adults and cannot take any more until current clients graduate to needing less support. His team refers complex cases to Pathways, where Haubrich is sifting through nearly 300 referrals knowing he has capacity for just 33 more clients. The intake bottleneck is exacerbated by a dearth of places for people who need more support than a standalone apartment can provide, Haubrich says. We offer a really good approach for people who have the capacity to recover and reintegrate. But there are a lot of people on the streets, sadly, who cant do that. Ashdown agrees. Housing First was designed to work with 85 per cent of homeless people, he says. Its a good way to drastically reduce homelessness. But to end homelessness, we need places for the other 15 per cent. A lot of us have put a lot of energy into working with that 15 per cent, but it eats into our capacity to nd homes for the people were set up to serve. Clearly, considerable work remains to meet the audacious goal of eliminating homelessness before this decade ends. Yet the people of Edmonton are succeeding in turning the tide, with the numbers shrinking for the rst time since homeless counts began. The latest count, in October 2010, found 2,421 people without a permanent home 658 fewer than in 2008, or a 21 per cent drop. True, thats still 1,585 more than in 1999, but cause for rejoicing, nevertheless. Im really proud of whats happening in Edmonton, Smith says. Weve moved further and faster than anybody ever expected, and weve gained appreciation for what real collaboration looks like. Most of all, Im just so proud of the people whove been housed. There are amazing stories of success people you would never have thought could get to a point where theyre comfortable in a home wanting now to give back, get employed, make sure others are housed. So its a really heartwarming story of what happens when a community comes together and says were not going to tolerate this anymore.

A HOMEWARD TRUST INITIATIVE HELPS ABORIGINALS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS SHARE THEIR STORIES About 40 per cent of Edmontons homeless are aboriginal eight times more than demographics would predict. Thats a sobering reality, and one Homeward Trust is aiming to change through Housing First. Within two years, 585 aboriginal individuals have found a home with the support of Housing First teams. Thats 47 per cent of the people housed through the initiative, a glimmer of hope that, over time, aboriginal homelessness could be wrested down to ve per cent of Edmontons homeless, on par with the aboriginal presence in our overall population or even down to zero. But as aboriginal elders teach us, the proof is not solely in the numbers. So Homeward Trust hired a team of researchers to hear the stories of aboriginal clients whove found housing through Housing First. We were looking more for meaning than for measurement, says Ralph Bodor of the Blue Quills First Nation College Research and Program Evaluation Team. Begun with a ceremony involving an aboriginal elder and the people whose stories would be heard, the study will close with a celebration and sharing circle to give the ndings back and seek wisdom in response. Besides drafting a 140-page report, the team commissioned playwright Matthew Mackenzie to blend bits from the interviews into a sharing circle of four voices representing the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional aspects of the medicine wheel, Bodor says. My hope is that people who have not been exposed to this population could say, I understand their story better. I can hear the passion and wisdom and awareness of these folks. They sound like people Id want to meet.




ELANA PAPIN proudly displays her makeover portrait.


Hundreds of volunteers come together for a common cause

offered more than 80 different services to locals experiencing homelessness and those at risk of being homeless. Homeless Connect, which started in 2008, takes place twice every year the most recent event was on May 15 at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Over 300 volunteers provided services aimed at helping people out of homelessness, while also raising awareness.


When Elana Papin came to Homeless Connect, she was looking for food, work clothes and information about employment opportunities. She found all that and more Papin thinks she may have landed a job. Papin also had a professional portrait taken by BMP photography. BMP owner Trevor Boller provided complimentary portraits at the event, more of which can be seen on the preceding pages. For Papin, the event was about coming together with others who face poverty. Theres no animosity and were all the same here, we all know that, she says.


The End of Homelessness


Harry Botterill was all smiles while

he was getting his hair trimmed. Aside from a new do, Botterill was hoping to get dental work done. For Botterill, Homeless Connect was a way for him to nd out about services he was unaware of before and to learn about affordable things that a homeless person can do.

Dogan Saglam, who volunteered

for the rst time at Homeless Connect, joined the event as a way to help others. The opportunity gave Saglam a chance to communicate and socialize with a demographic with whom he doesnt usually interact. He plans to volunteer at future Homeless Connect events.

One thing thats going to be achieved here today is a sense of elevation, a sense of pride, says Rev. Brian Patterson, of Our Savior Lutheran Church. Overall, Patterson was very impressed with the event and the services that were available to the guests, like free clothing and counselling.




Margaret Currie and Megan Millar were

volunteering at the haircut booth, one of the most popular areas at the event. Currie says everybody needs a haircut. You feel so good when you get your hair cut, you feel wonderful, says Currie, who has volunteered at the event six times. This was Millars second time at the event. I know these people are in need so this helps them out and makes them feel better about themselves, says Millar. Volunteering has become an important part of Sinde Bhogals life. Bhogal has volunteered in Guatemala and has plans to travel to Peru to offer her time there. For Bhogal, Homeless Connect was an opportunity to volunteer close to home. At Homeless Connect, Bhogal helped to provide dental services for guests who needed them.

Wendy Rivera is a youth worker with the Edmonton

John Howard Society, a crime prevention program. At Homeless Connect, she provided guests with services including help seeking employment opportunities, transitional housing information, obtaining identification and writing resums. Its all about them setting their own goals, says Rivera.

For Donna Robillard, the most important part of Homeless Connect was catching up with people she knew from when she used to be on the streets. Im happy to be here, Robillard says. At the event, she was able to get an ID card, a professional portrait and some new clothes.


2011 SUMMER we


The end of Homelessness

Frank shares his story of life and chronic mental illness

HE CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION helps people who are experiencing mental illnesses. Frank, who has chronic depression, is one receiving support from the organization. Here is his story.

After high school, I went to college for a social science degree. It was a struggle because I didnt feel like I t in, but it got better and I became more involved. I met a few people and by the time it was over, Id had the feelings for a long, long time but I didnt hear the word I didnt want to leave. dysthymia until my diagnosis in 2003. Dysthymia is a form of depression I graduated from college and worked as a security with chronic periods, so youre OK for a while but youre never really at your ofcer and as a legal assistant. After I was laid off from optimum level, youre just sort of so-so. Its characterized by low condence, my last job in security, I wasnt sure what I wanted to low self-esteem, seeing yourself as not tting in, negativity and pessimism. do. So I went and got my second degree, a bachelor of I feel a real sense of helplessness, that even applied communications though I have all this education and I can do well in professional writing. I You just cant get over a mental in school, I just have not been able to function thought it was going to be on the job. I also have feelings of loneliness, not a route to employment, but illness on your own; you need belonging, and periodic feelings of sadness. Ive after I graduated in 2009 the help. It takes work and you have had times when things seemed to be much better, economy was awful and my to want to change. Its nothing to but depression always comes back. condence became very low. be ashamed of or hide. Ive suffered from this anxiety and chronic I couldnt nd work. I depression my whole life. I felt these feelings back had just graduated from my in high school and I spoke to the school guidance second degree and now I felt counsellor. He was really nice, but I didnt do much about the feelings. I down. I searched on the Internet and applied for jobs gured it was just a personality trait, so I should cheer up and get over it. I and had interviews, but never got offered a job. I would told myself that, although I couldnt do it. I didnt seek any professional help or have these periods of in-between where I had nothing take any medication, I never considered that. I dont think it was very common to do and nowhere to go. I didnt have any real friends, back then, in the late 1980s, to have a mental illness. as all my friends had moved on. I was around 37 at that




point and they were in careers, working steady jobs and buying houses. In September of 2010 I realized something was not working. I had to do something different. I started seeing a therapist and I tried a daytreatment program and went to an organization to help nd employment. But I was told they didnt feel I was ready, so eventually I was recommended to the Steps to Recover (STR) program at the Canadian Mental Health Associations (CMHA) Edmonton ofce. STR is part of the Moving Ahead Program (MAP). When I started coming to CMHA, which is a United Way member agency in early December, I didnt know what to expect. But I felt I had to do something or I wasnt going to nd work in any eld. So I called and made the appointment and I met with one of the social workers and we did a brief interview. I lled out the application and they had me start about a week later. I came in and we went into a boardroom and there were about seven other people there. On the rst day, we did an introduction and the mood was pretty light and people were laughing. Ive been going to the program twice a week and things are now much better for me. I feel this is where

I should be and where I want to be. Things arent perfect now, but compared to six months ago, the difference is huge. I feel more condent, in control and hopeful than I have in a long time. It wasnt easy and meeting people is still hard for me, but the other group members are all very open. I nally forced myself to talk to them and try and make changes. I meet with the group and also do other social activities, like snowshoeing or bowling. We do things together as a group and we call each other when were feeling down. We support each other and enjoy each others company. Its a relief to know that I can come here on a regular basis and I can always talk to my co-ordinator. If Im having a bad day, theyll make time for me. I have the support of the group and that means a lot to me; it makes a huge difference. There are people here my own age that have been through similar things and the coordinators of the program are also experienced. I can talk to the other group members and the staff without judgment. I think there will always be stigma attached with mental illness, but its getting better. You just cant get over a mental illness on your own; you need help. It takes work and you have to want to change. Its nothing to be ashamed of or hide; if you have a mental illness, I would encourage anyone to get help. Try a combination of things because not everything will work for every person. But keep trying until you nd what works for you. I think Ive found what works for me with a combination of staying on medication, seeing a therapist, attending the group and the social activities. Whether you call what I have dysthymia or depression, or call it anything, I knew I needed to get some help for this so that I could reach my potential and move on. Im a lot more positive now, since Ive come to CMHA. Ive got more hope. I think the staff is excellent and theyve been very helpful and its a good program. I believe Im putting myself in a position where I can nally work if I work on myself enough.

For more information on the Canadian Mental Health Associations resources and support for people affected by mental illness, including the Moving Ahead Program (MAP), visit




SCHOOLS OUT: Kids Club is actually exciting, says Grade 6 student Nathan Soldan.




A year-round literacy program for inner-city kids turns the fear of reading into a love of books
by CAILYNN KLINGBEIL Photography by 3TEN


CHOOLS OUT FOR THE DAY but Nathan Soldan hasnt left yet. The Grade 6 student is in an upstairs classroom at Glendale Elementary School and, while many of his peers are back at home in front of a computer or TV screen, Soldan is still at school reading. Were reading a new book, Nathan says. Its about a guy going to camp.
Along with nine other students, Nathan will spend the next two hours in the upstairs classroom, reading and participating in other literary-based activities. The students might write in journals or make presentations to each other on the books theyre reading. Then theyll eat a snack, followed by a craft or recreational activity. Today, a large bag full of orange balls hints to the afternoons activity dodgeball in the gym. Nathan is at Kids Club, a YMCA after-school literacy program for children who attend inner-city schools. The program is supported by United Way and continues to operate in the summer months, through a partnership with YMCA Childcare centres.




NATHANS NOT THE ONLY ONE BENEFITING from Kids Club. The free program runs twice a week in four local elementary schools, led by Greig or program instructor Jillian Fusco. The schools are in high-risk, low-income areas of the city, places where parents often cant afford after-school care for their children. Greig and Fusco, along with volunteers Kallie Barker and Stefanie Maltais-Bayda, work with the same group of approximately 10 students at each school. The Grade 3 to Grade 6 students who join the program have diverse backgrounds: some are new to Canada, others are from low-income families, or have learning disabilities or developmental delays. Kids Club is something that the students feel proud to be a part of, Fusco says. Its nice for them to hang out with people their own age and also with students who feel the same way about reading because theyre in the same situation and not all the kids in their class are. The small group size at Kids Club allows for the students to receive one-on-one attention, which isnt always possible during school. Instead of many other kids staring at them as they try to spell out a word, at Kids Club, there are only eight others and were all sounding it out together, Fusco says. Its a safe environment. Its also an environment where students experience incredible growth over the course of the school year. At the beginning of the year, no one wants to read, and now they ght over it, Fusco says, laughing. I had a student who brought his own book in and he wanted to read it in Kids Club, Grieg says. The same student didnt want to read even a paragraph in October and now he actually wants to read his own whole book.

READ ALONG: Program instructor Jenna Greig (left) and Nathan Soldan.

Research shows that Albertans with low literacy skills are more likely to live in poverty, be unemployed, earn less, be on social assistance and have children who struggle in school. The Kids Club program targets early literacy skills, working with students who are in elementary school. In the process, the program also creates a fun place that kids look forward to going to. Kids Club is actually exciting, Nathan says. I like reading books about all sorts of different kinds of things. While Nathan started off the year reluctant to read even a paragraph to his peers, hes now eager to read pages. Its amazing, says Jenna Greig, a program instructor with Kids Club. Its been fabulous watching him grow and develop. Im so proud of seeing how far he has come. This is Nathans second year in the program, which runs twice a week at his school. Nathans mom, Alana Gushuliak-Soldan, says that because she and her husband work full-time, its helpful to have an after-school program where Nathan can stay at school and spend time with his peers. Additionally, she has watched her sons reading and writing skills improve and experienced the pride that accompanies that. Hes always excited coming back from the club and showing us things, Gushuliak-Soldan says. This year, his reading and writing skills just skyrocketed.


Those who struggle with literacy are unable to take in the information that they need to function well in todays highly knowledge-driven, technology-based world, says Jonna Grad, executive director of the Centre for Family Literacy. The day-to-day challenges those individuals face range from difculty reading the newspaper to not being able to understand the info on prescription bottles to signing rental leases or bank paperwork even if they dont understand the information theyre agreeing to. Theres also an economic cost to those struggles, impacting all of society. A one per cent rise in average literacy rates would equate to an increase in productivity of 2.5 per cent and a 1.5 per cent increase in GDP, Grad says. Additionally, people with lower literacy skills are overrepresented in the health care system, and theres also an impact on workplaces. There are more workplace accidents if we have people that dont understand the signs and the print thats all over work environments, Grad says. Literacy skills also correlate to civic involvement. Those with higher literacy skills tend to be more involved citizens who participate in our communities and society, Grad says, and thats really what we all want.

BREAK DANCING Left to right Nathan Soldan with Faith Peters and Joe Brown.




While Fusco and Greig dont often receive feedback from parents due to the demographic of the students involved, the two instructors do notice other signs of the programs success. I had one student who was grounded and, as part of his punishment, he couldnt come to Kids Club, Greig says. His parents took away something he valued and really liked and that was Kids Club.

STUDY BUDDIES: Faith Peters and Sierra Brown.

WHILE KIDS CLUB IS DESIGNED TO OFFER STUDENTS A FUN and active way to improve their literacy skills, other skills also improve along the way. Kids Club not only focuses on literacy, but it also focuses on resiliency and self-esteem and camaraderie, says Les Hansen, principal of Glendale Elementary School. Students are building relationships and connections with others. It all goes to helping them be well-rounded students. Glendale has participated in the program for the past two years and Hansen has watched students like Nathan show incredible success during that time. Kids Club means an awful lot to our students, Hansen says. Students are given a pre-test before starting the program and a posttest at the end of the year in order to monitor how effective the program is. The program is back because its making a difference, Hansen says. Its been a great community partnership. Thats growth that shouldnt stop in the summer, says Michael Peters, the program supervisor of child and youth programs at the YMCA. Peters oversees the Kids Club program year-round. Through a partnership with four YMCA Childcare centres located in low-income, high-risk communities, Kids Club continues to be offered during July and August. Its the same setup as we have with Kids Club during the school year, where the program is offered twice a week, Peters says. The summertime edition of Kids Club continues to focus on literacy skills and still includes crafts and a recreation activity over a two-hour time period. Whether its offered during the school year or during the summer, Kids Club is a valuable experience for many kids who might otherwise not be able to participate in such a program. This way they have a free program that they can come to where theyre taken care of, Peters says. Back in the upstairs classroom at Glendale Elementary School, Nathan recognizes the value of the skills hes gaining in Kids Club. Reading and writing gives you more in life, Nathan says. If you get better and better, you can go do different kinds of things. You can graduate junior high and then high school and go to university. Nathan already knows where he wants such skills to take him. When Im older, he says, Im going to write some books.

According to the Centre for Family Literacy, four out of 10 Albertans struggle with literacy, meaning they do not have the minimum levels of literacy necessary to fully participate in todays economy. The centre, a local organization, is committed to helping to build, develop and improve literacy in Alberta. One such way the centre accomplishes that mission is through Books for Babies, a literacy initiative that is funded by United Way. The four-week-long program encourages parents to share books with their babies, starting in their babies rst year, and stresses the importance of literacy at home. We talk about the ways children learn language and understand the working of a book, what to look for in books for this particular age group and ways to support the childs journey into literacy, says Wendy Peverett, program co-ordinator. The program aims to bring appropriate, quality childrens books and book-sharing information to families who may have limited resources in the area of literacy. The program is also a great chance for networking, says Peverett, noting social time for both the parent and child is an important part of the program. Sometimes not only can the mom be isolated, but so can the child, Peverett says. Its important for parents to see that they are not alone, that other parents are dealing with similar issues.




What do the Grey Cup and community supporters have in common?



STAUNCH PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE and a leading Liberal working together on the same team? Voluntarily? Yes, when the cause is the United Way, politicians from opposing parties can agree to close ranks and share a common mission.

Thats why both the Honourable A. Anne McLellan, the former deputy prime minister for Paul Martins Liberal government, and Eric Young, Queens counsel and former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, quickly agreed to co-chair a United Way fundraising program, the Major Gifts campaign. McLellan and Young will work with Eric Upton, a former Edmonton Eskimo who has transitioned from professional athlete to businessman, and now to team-builder. As the United Ways new senior advisor in community investments, Upton now helps create and motivate teams of inuential Edmonton volunteers. Gene Bourassa, United Ways director of Major Gifts and Legacy Giving, is also on the team. Annes my favourite Liberal, says Young with a smile. We work well together, says McLellan, returning the compliment. Together with Eric Upton as the United Way staff member, we bring different strengths to the table. We have different contacts and networks to build on when putting teams together. The Major Gifts programs history goes back eight years. We started to formulate a Major Gifts program in 2003 and over the years weve slowly built it up, says Bourassa. While the economic meltdown of 2008 stalled the campaign, the initiative is ramping up again. Support for the Major Gifts team also extends to Debra Strate, United Ways vice president of Resource Development, and CEO Anne Smith. The entire Major Gifts team have already shown incredible passion for the cause, says Bourassa. When you put all these people together on the same team, Bourassa says, Im quite excited for what this will mean for United Way. While a gift of $10,000 or more constitutes a major gift, Bourassa notes that

DREAM TEAM: Debra Strate, Gene Bourassa, A. Anne McLellan, Eric Upton and Anne Smith are all part of the United Ways Major Gifts campaign (along with Eric Young, not pictured).





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many United Way donors who now give major gifts started with smaller sums and have consistently increased their gifts over the years. Hes quick to point out that any gift, no matter the size, has a positive impact on the communities United Way helps. When it comes to major gifts, the funds are from many places and are very multifaceted, says Bourassa, noting future gifts in the form of life insurance or a bequest in a will also support the United Ways mission. We feel there is tremendous opportunity to encourage other individuals in the community to rise to the major gift level, says Bourassa. Thats exactly where McLellan, Young and Upton come in, recruiting and identifying individuals to give at a larger level. The two Erics agree that the key to successful team-building is surrounding yourself with good people who share a common goal. Then set them free to do their job, says Young. Whether its a board, political campaign or business, success happens when individuals keep an eye on the big picture and let others play their part. The Major Gifts team leaders, who are also engaging high-powered volunteers to join the team, note the biggest challenge in recruiting those volunteers is time. Lots of people makes for less work, says Young. But the people whose skills we need are busy people. Often its easier for them to give money than time. But once they commit, they give 110 per cent. As co-chairs, McLellan and Young are two of those very busy people whove made a substantial time commitment because they believe in United Way. The need is so great and its not going away, says McLellan. You want to do as much as you can, and I know when I support United Way, my efforts cover a lot of ground. For Eric Upton, one of the United Way staff members on the Major Gifts team, this latest career move is a new outlet for his team energy. Upton may be better known for his role as an offensive lineman from the legendary team that broke records by winning ve consecutive Grey Cups but even in this new position, its about the team. At this point of my career, its all about giving back, Upton explains. As I get closer to retirement, I started thinking, what do I really, really want to do in my nal work years? I did a lot of soulsearching. I had to nd the passion again I feel very strongly that the Edmonton area has given me and my family so much and I realized the answer was, its time to give back. Upton, who joined United Way in December 2010, is still mastering his new role as a fundraising team-builder, but hes already certain the United Way team is where he now belongs. I come home after a days work and I feel good, says Upton. I can see what Im doing truly makes a difference in the lives of those who need help. Thats what feels good. Uptons easygoing manner and lighthearted joshing has already won the hearts of his co-workers, but they also see that he understands the value of hard work. For his rst ve years as an Eskimo, Upton did double duty, working as a high school phys. ed. teacher in Ardrossan before heading to late-afternoon Eskie practices.

Youve got to walk the talk or others wont buy into what youre telling them. You cant ask a teammate to do something you wouldnt do yourself.
Like all team players, Upton knows that in his new position, its not all about him. I see myself as a supporting player for the Major Gifts team, Upton says. Its exactly the same as when I was an offensive lineman. I help clear obstacles from the path so others can make the big plays and we all can reach our goal. As a former offensive team captain, Upton also believes in leading by example. Youve got to walk the talk or others wont buy into what youre telling them. You cant ask a teammate to do something you wouldnt do yourself. A team is only as good as its talent and Upton is thankful to be working alongside United Way staff members Bourassa, Strate and Smith, as well as the two star players already signed on for the Major Gifts campaign: McLellan and Young. Theyre both very respected, inuential people with a wealth of expertise, says Upton. Because they come from different backgrounds than myself, together our team effort will be stronger.

When Eric Upton shakes your hand, its not the bone-crushing grip youd expect from a former Edmonton Eskimo. Im pretty much a softie in a lot of ways, Upton jokes. I had to work hard to create the intensity needed to play a very violent game. Whatever Upton did to get his game face on, it worked. During the decade from 1976 to 1985, Upton played his entire CFL career as an Eskie lineman, relentlessly blocking and tackling opponents as he protected star quarterback Warren Moon. Upton and his teammates helped make sport history and set Edmonton on the path to earning its City of Champions moniker. Along the way, he earned the respect of both his coach (who initially assessed him as small, slow and weak) and his fellow players (who voted him their offensive team captain for ve years straight). Upton expects some fumbles and missteps in his new position as a novice fundraiser, but hes not worried about making mistakes. Ive always believed you learn more from your losses than your wins, he says. More than 25 CFL seasons have passed since Upton traded his No. 57 jersey for a business suit and tie. Today, the only hint of his storied past is the sizeable Grey Cup championship ring he wears. After hanging up his cleats, Upton made his name in other endeavours, most notably as sales manager for 13 years with CBC-TV and an eight-year stint as vice-president of sales with the Edmonton Oilers. Upton successfully transitioned from professional athlete to businessman to a new position with the United Way, and one constant has never wavered: Hes still the ultimate team player. On-eld or off, Upton is living proof that a man can take himself off the team but you cant take the teamwork out of the man.





We will plant a tree for every tree we remove.
Its a bold promise but one that will play an integral role for our company into the future. For every tree we remove to expand our operations we will plant a tree as part of our Neutral Footprint program. Its commitments like this that will help ensure that future generations continue to enjoy our natural spaces. Enbridge delivers more than the energy you count on. We deliver on our promise to help make communities better places to live. Its part of the reason we were named one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Visit to learn more.


Book Learning
An innovative program in Goodwills contract division teaches valuable skills to people with disabilities
by Robin Schroffel photo by MaRius SikorSki

EvEr wondEr what happEnEd to thosE old books you donatEd to Goodwill? Thanks to the notfor-profit organizations innovative eBooks program, those books helped to create new jobs for people with barriers to employment. The eBooks program part of Goodwills contract division, which is funded by United Way redirects book donations of value for online sale through and other online used book retailers. The eBooks program is an international Goodwill initiative that started in 2007. Goodwills Edmonton operations ran the program until the spring of 2011, but its on a temporary hiatus as Goodwill undergoes reorganization. Its a way to get more value out of the books than just selling them in our stores, says Barbara Engelbart, director of marketing with Goodwill Industries of Alberta. Engelbart expects the program to start again by January 2012. The two eBook centres in the province employ 10 individuals, who are still working in Goodwills contract division in other positions until the eBook program resumes.

One eBook centre is located in Edmonton and the other in Calgary, and all books, CDs and DVDs donated to Goodwill stores in those respective regions are first diverted to the centres. There, employees scan them with a special supermarket-style UPC scanner and an online computer program called Monsoon automatically determines the products values. Theyre either accepted and listed for sale online, or theyre rejected and sent back to be sold on the shelves of an area Goodwill store. With older books, the process is much the same: titles are typed into Monsoon, where theyre automatically appraised.

[The eBooks program] utilizes books in an effective way and also provides employment for people with disabilities.
The job is extremely straightforward, says Engelbart, and its that fact that helps to make Goodwills eBooks program a winner. Its all staffed by people with barriers to employment, she says. Its a very simple, repetitive-type task that they can be very successful at.

In 2010, Goodwill Alberta received 2.5 million donated books, 21,000 of which were sold through eBooks. Online, the titles listed range in price from just a few dollars to the high hundreds. While some revenue is brought in through eBooks, money is not the primary motivator behind the initiative, says Engelbart. She explains that any funds generated simply go back into the program to pay employee salaries. It doesnt add a lot to our bottom line but the point behind it is that it utilizes books in an effective way and also provides employment for people with disabilities. Thats always our primary concern in our mission. Goodwill aims to break down employment barriers for disadvantaged people, and the eBooks program is just one of the ways Goodwill has succeeded in creating new jobs for the people who need them. The main focus for us is to find ways to employ people, says Engelbart. Were always looking at new and innovative ways to do that and to provide those people with an accommodating work environment, which the eBooks program really is.


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The number of backpacks filled with supplies for students in need by United Ways Tools for School program. School supplies are one way we are helping children with their academic success.

9,468 21%

The percentage by which the number of homeless dropped in the last Homeless Count. A testament to the success of the Housing First model.

The number of calls fielded by 211 Information and Referral Service in 2010. 211 provides information on basic needs, employment needs, parenting support, counseling groups, health care, legal services and more.



Early Days
As United Way celebrates 70 years of operation in Edmonton, CEO Anne Smith reflects on the organizations start
The CommuniTy ChesT of GreaTer edmonTon was CreaTed in 1941. The Chest
was a federation of agencies, made up of 28 social service agencies that came together to try and find a better way to fundraise. The Community Chest ran a fundraising effort, with the agencies sharing the proceeds of that fundraising. The very first Community Chest was created in Denver, Colorado, in 1887 and the concept spread across North America over time. The Community Chest of Greater Edmontons first goal was around $98,000 and they raised somewhere in the order of $110,000 so that gives you an idea of the scope of it. That organization continued to run an annual federated fundraising campaign all the way through to 1960, at which time Edmontons Community Chest went out of business and a new organization, called the United Community Fund of Greater Edmonton, was born. The United Community Fund was a federation of donors who would generate resources, pool those resources and then allocate or distribute them to social agencies on the basis of community priorities. While weve moved from being a United Community Fund to being a United Way, that initial mission is still the basis under which we operate today. To go from being a federated fundraiser for agencies to being a federation of donors allocating based on priority needs was a huge change; it was a 180-degree turn and was very significant in our history. Instead of operating as a federated fundraiser, we ran a single annual fundraising campaign in support of the needs of the community. Those needs were determined by local citizens, who were looking at the issues and research and determining what the priorities were and then making decisions as to how best to allocate those funds to make the greatest difference in the community. Fundamentally, thats who we are 70 years later. Our work today still comes back to the fundamental concept of United Way, which is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together we can do more than we can do independently and individually. We are one of 18,000 United Ways across the globe, all independent, autonomous, locally governed organizations. Were focused on bringing partners together across the community to focus on critical issues. Were pooling our time, talent, expertise, knowledge and resources to really work on the entrenched social problems that we face.



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Welcome to the

Circle of Excellence
Congratulations and special thanks to the United Way Award of Excellence recipients! The Award of Excellence was established in 2009 as a means of honouring the PCL family of companies and their commitment to improving social conditions within the Alberta Capital Region. PCL has a history of exceptional leadership, generous financial support and creative donor engagement. They have been at the forefront of real change through their strong partnership with United Way. In 2010, Enbridge joined PCL as a recipient of this prestigious award, creating the Circle of Excellence. Congratulations! PCL and Enbridge continue to provide outstanding community support. These organizations are leading the charge for real change. As a result, the Alberta Capital Region is a better place for all. Thank you!


Enbridge salutes everyone who made this victory possible.
Over 2,500 cyclists triumphed over all obstacles on June 25 and 26 to conquer 200 kilometers of unforgiving Rocky Mountain highway. With the support of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors, they raised millions of dollars for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer making it clear that cancer will be defeated. The Alberta Cancer Foundation will use the funds to help patients and families at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the Cross Cancer Institute and many other cancer centres across Alberta. Visit to learn more.