One lunch. Countless helped.

“At the funeral of my young sister, I searched the crowd and noticed my support workers from Boyle Street but none of my friends from the street,” explained Shawn Bernard, Inner City Speaker at the Mac&Cheese Luncheon, March 20 at the Westin. This defining moment after his beloved sister's drug death convinced Shawn to leave his life of drug use, dealing and incarcerations behind.

Shawn with Karen Bruno from Boyle Street

Shawn lost both parents at a young age and grew up on the streets of inner city Edmonton surrounded by drugs and prostitution. In 1992, he founded a rap group that later evolved into a high-profile nationwide gang. He turned his life around with support from Boyle Street Community Services. Shawn (aka FEENIX) is now a professional rap/hip hop artist, Norquest College graduate and motivational speaker. The appreciative audience of almost 500 people gave Shawn a standing ovation after he shared his personal story of overcoming incredible obstacles, thanks to the consistent, unconditional and long-term support of people like Karen Bruno from Boyle Street Community Services. Shawn remarked, “I don’t know how many calls she took from me, in the middle of the night.”

The 19th annual Mac&Cheese Luncheon brought the business community together to raise funds for the Inner City Agencies Foundation (ICAF) and ultimately the thousands of people in poverty who access support from these agencies every year. Keynote speaker, Mayor Don Iveson brought the crowd to their feet when he vowed to end poverty in Edmonton within a generation. Mayor Iveson also proclaimed March 16 – 22, 2014 as Inner City Awareness Week in Edmonton. 

CEO & President of United Way, Anne Smith and His Worship, Mayor Don Iveson

ICAF Co-Chair Garth Von Hagen expressed gratitude for the support of the long-term in-kind and monetary sponsors of both the Mac&Cheese Luncheon and the Inner City Roast Beef Dinner.  ICAF is a joint initiative that combines the efforts of seven inner city agencies to fundraise for and provide a network of services to alleviate poverty-related problems such as housing, addiction, healthcare, nutrition and education in Edmonton. With the help of sponsors and volunteers, ICAF also hosted the Inner City Roast Beef Dinner at the Boyle Street Plaza on March 16.  Celebrity servers, including Mayor Iveson, Councillor Scott McKeen, MP Mike Lake and Marni Kuhlmann (CTV) dished up approximately 800 hot roast beef meals to our community members in the inner city.

Inner City Roast Beef Dinner, March 16, 2014, at Boyle Street Plaza

United Way is proud to partner with and support the work of ICAF during the Inner City Awareness Week and throughout the entire year, because we believe the goal to end homelessness and poverty in our community is possible when we all work together.