Sheila found new skills and a job in her new community, thanks to a United Way funded program for women
“My family moved here recently from Fort McPherson, in the Northwest Territories. We moved so my nine-year-old son, Curtis, could get a better education. We choose to live here even though it’s a sacrifice, because there’s no violence and crime and everything that can happen in a small community.
Coming from up north we decided to rent because it's cheaper than buying. So we have to think about our rent. We have to think about our utilities. We have to think about our car payments. My husband's a heavy equipment operator, which is seasonal, so it'll pick up and it'll go down. Right now it’s really slow. So it's very important for me to work and have income.
Back home I worked as a health care aide, but I was ready for a change. I searched online and found out about a United Way funded program called Transitions to Success.
Every day was something different, like budgeting and first aid, information about addictions and practicing effective communication. On Wednesdays we would work at the food bank, and then some of the mothers in our program were offered food. That helped them out a lot.
Just doing the program with women was so good because you gain trust with them.
The Transitions to Success program helps you with your resume, to put it the way that employers want to see it. So I was able to update my resume, do a cover letter and then they set up an interview panel, so I got really good practice. I did a practicum work placement as a receptionist, and then I got offered a job at the same place.
I use my new communication skills at home and at work. Things got better in our family.
As a receptionist I deal with a lot of people during the day – clients, doctors and nurses. Sometimes I have three lines going at a time. It's the first job I ever had where I deal with so many people at once. I learned a lot from the program about how to deal with that kind of situation.
I talked to a few of my friends that were kind of having a hard time like looking for work. So I talked to them about the program and one of them applied. I think she is even doing her practicum now.
I’m so thankful that I took the program. It got me a job and changed my life.”
Show Your Local Love.
“I was born with albinism and growing up I faced a lot of adversity. Part of my albinism is that my vision is twenty-two hundred, which basically means that everything is zoomed out. If you’ve ever turned a lens or a pair of binoculars over, that zoomed-out look, that’s kind of how I see the world. Everything is in perspective, it’s clear, I see colours and shapes and everything, it just looks far away. I’ve seen like that since birth.”
“At five years old, I met with a disability counsellor who told me all the things that I wouldn’t be able to do in life. They told me I wouldn’t be able to play sports, that I wouldn’t be able to drive, that my career choice would be selective and education would be tough for me. So I came out of that meeting with drive and determination to prove that individual wrong, and prove that I could do anything that a normal person could do. It wasn’t easy. I grew up with a lot of battles and people putting limitations on me that I didn’t think existed.”
“Beyond a strong friend base, one of the most important resources I had growing up was the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB). They were a really strong support system for me because with so much negativity living as someone with low vision and with so many naysayers, having my parents, friends and the CNIB supporting me in every decision I made really made a difference and I’ll always be so grateful for that ... I wanted to give back to the CNIB so I started volunteering with them so I could help kids and give them similar opportunities. Just this summer I was able to organize a basketball camp for children with low vision ... To me, the miracle of the camp was seeing these kids transform from having no confidence, to their state when they left where they were inspired to go out and try new things and realize their potential, because they didn’t have any basketball skills when they came in and they left with the ability to dribble the ball and make some baskets, all those basketball skills, and they lit up ... To see them building towards something they didn’t even think was possible was a great experience.”
We are very fortunate to live in a community so willing to step up to help lift people out of poverty. We appreciate and thank you for many of the things you do including building Homeless Connect care kits, sorting food and preparing hampers at local food banks, sorting coats and winterwear for people in need, cooking and serving food for families and seniors and building school supply kits.
In 2017, more than 2000 United Way supporters participated in volunteer work throughout the Alberta Capital Region. For National Volunteer Week, we want to recognize and celebrate our volunteers for their ongoing commitment to the community.
It also takes a great number of volunteers to organize and participate in learning opportunities such as The Brain Architecture Game and Poverty Simulations. In 2017, more than 175 people volunteered to participate in Poverty Simulations across the Alberta Capital Region.
THANK YOU! Happy National Volunteer Week! To get your workplace involved to help out in the community, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I was assaulted by someone I had known for 15 years. Eighty per cent of survivors have experienced acquaintance sexual assault, so someone they know or someone they care about. So for me, it felt important to speak out, to give a face to a lot of peoples’ experiences and then it empowers people to start talking … it makes me feel that talking about it is worth it.”
“When I initially disclosed to a social group I was close with for 15 years, which included my brother, none of them believed me, and they all stopped speaking to me and they still hang out with the person who assaulted me. That was incredibly painful and incredibly difficult because not only was I going through this, but I was pretty much completely alone.
"I decided I wasn’t going to hang on to this because it was toxic to me to keep holding this inside of me — not speaking about it and keep shoving it down is not healthy. So I decided to post about my experience on Facebook before I went to bed and when I woke up, I was amazed at the feedback I was receiving from people, things like, ‘That’s so brave of you, thank you for sharing your story, we support you, we love you’. It was huge and I think then I started feeling more comfortable and then speaking about it in a more public way started to feel more comfortable. It is empowering to talk about it because it takes away that shame and the secrecy that is so toxic to survivors.”
“I work on behalf of the Sexual Assault Centre in Edmonton and I’ve been doing a lot of media stuff around the I Believe You campaign, which is connected to building a culture of belief and support for survivors of sexual violence ... With the campaign, we’ve seen a 53 per cent increase of people accessing the Sexual Assault Centre’s services across the province, that’s the provincial average. In Sherwood Park, it’s been a 90 per cent increase of people coming into the centre looking for support, so it creates this environment where people begin to feel okay talking about this with a counsellor and getting some help …
The goal is to change the culture so it’s knee-jerk for people to say ‘I believe you’ when someone discloses to you. And to ultimately prevent sexual assault from happening.”
United Way of the Alberta Capital Region partnered with Faces of Edmonton. Faces of Edmonton features faces and stories relating to the United Way and its work in your community. We’re looking forward to sharing these portraits and stories with you. To learn more about United Way's work check out the Report to Community online.
When Amanda Dauvin speaks about homelessness, she speaks from firsthand experience. Homeless twice before the age of 15, Dauvin grew up in a family that faced challenges such as poverty, mental health issues and addiction.
Dauvin shared her story as Keynote Speaker at the 23rd annual Mac & Cheese Luncheon, held at the Westin Edmonton last week. More than 350 people were in the audience to help raise funds for the seven members of the Inner City Agencies Foundation. The event is produced in partnership with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.
Thanks to her own determination and fortitude, and with support from several agencies including a food bank and a women’s shelter, Dauvin not only survived but is thriving. She has two university degrees, is a mother and runs her own business, A Cadence Coaching.
Dauvin now uses her story as a bridge between those who experience homelessness and those who can help. She volunteered her time as Keynote Speaker because she values the daily support provided to vulnerable residents of Edmonton’s inner city by Bissell Centre, Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, e4c, Right at Home Housing Society, Edmonton People in Need Shelter Society, and Operation Friendship Seniors Society.
Learn more about the Inner City Agencies Foundation.