Category Archives: Events

11 Years of Pancakes: Friendship, Gratitude, and Community Partnerships

Eleven years is an awfully long time, and a whole lot in our world has changed since 2006. New programs were introduced, a new CEO arrived, and the community in which we serve continued to grow. One thing that has remained constant, however, is our annual Community Pancake Breakfast—a give-back event set aside for community-building, networking, and the celebration of the people who support us in our efforts to make Alberta a more inclusive, welcoming province.
Given its impressively long history, our Pancake Breakfast is always well-attended, and draws guests from all imaginable walks of life. We can usually count on a few hundred hungry people including families, politicians, and local partners. This year, for example, Councillor Tony Caterina made a speech, the Highlands branch of the EdmontonTony Caterina giving a speech Public Library set up a table, and the Alberta Federation of Labour made an appearance. Friends, neighbours, partners, supporters, clients, and members of the general public flock to our yearly breakfasts in anticipation of delicious free food, fun outdoor activities and, of course, the chance to show their support to us and the people we serve every day. Proud as we are of our work here at DECSA, this is a time for recognizing the efforts of our surrounding community.
First, we give thanks to our volunteers, who took photos, served food despite intense heat, helped supervise tables, and made themselves useful in every way they could find. We could not hope to succeed without exceptional souls who donate their time freely and gladly. A special nod to a dozen students from CDI College is in order, as they all arrived bright and early and were chiefly responsible DECSA volunteers from CDI college serving food to the guestfor ensuring the breakfast ran smoothly.
Second, we must recognize our wonderful guests, who skip the chance to sleep in to eat, laugh, and enjoy the sunshine with us. We could not ask for a better neighbourhood, community, or city. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by such lively, active support from so many.
Finally, we express immeasurable gratitude to our sponsors, without whom we could not have hosted our breakfasts at all. Northlands has been our chief sponsor for years, and this year was no different. We thank them for helping us provide food for the breakfast, as well as the equipment used to prepare and serve it. Without a contribution from Northlands, our Community Pancake Breakfasts wouldn’t be possible. We must also acknowledge Re/Max, who lent us tents, a bouncy castle, and other equipment to ensure all our attendees would have everything they need for a comfortable and enjoyable morning. Edmonton’s Food Bank, which has been a loyal partner and provides ongoing and essential support to DECSA on a consistent basis, enhanced our breakfast by  DECSA guest are enjoying their breakfast in front of the RE/MAX tents providing beverages for all the guests. Given the high demand for food bank services across Canada and in Edmonton itself, we are doubly grateful for this assistance. We must also mention CIBC and Sun Life Financial, as staff from both companies have been long-time friends of DECSA and can be counted upon to lend us support during important events and milestones. Last but certainly not least, we owe many thanks to the kind community member who donated his petting zoo. The animals were a welcome addition to the event, and their gentle dispositions allowed us to give our young visitors an especially memorable experience.
And so, for now, we put the photos away, and move along to other exciting events planned for the coming months. Next year, though, we hope to see you all at our 12th Community Pancake Breakfast. Help us keep this treasured tradition going for another 11 years!

Picture of a tipi

 

 

“Live Your Purpose”: Saying Farewell to Another Group of Transitions Graduates

“Honour your values and live your purpose.” – Transitions participant speaking at the women’s graduation ceremony
June was a bittersweet month for DECSA staff, as we sent off yet another group of successful Transitions graduates. As always, we said good-bye with ceremony, handing out certificates and good-luck wishes.
This time around was even more special than usual: we had two ceremonies–one for our women’s group, and one for our very first men’s group. Until very recently, our Transitions program for sexually exploited individuals was not gender-segregated, but when we realised that a separate men’s groupwould improve the client experience, we adapted the program to fit our community’s needs.

Our very first men’s transition group is standing together holding their certificates.

DECSA clients worked hard to fundraise so their graduation ceremonies would be fun as well as meaningful. They worked tirelessly in the days leading up to their graduations by washing cars and serving hot dogs. The fruits of their labour resulted in two excellent graduation parties, including some delicious food they were happy to share with everyone.
Each ceremony, men’s and women’s, was unique, but they were both filled with joy, pride, and the nostalgic sadness that comes at the end of every era. Case managers sang, cried, and laughed with participants, affirming and reaffirming the great privilege of working with their clients. After hosting them for months, watching them work alongside fellow survivors of trauma and opening themselves up to their case managers, we were all understandably choked up at the idea of letting them go.
Nevertheless, we at DECSA can’t wait to see where their journeys will take these brave, beautiful people. Whatever they do, wherever they go, we feel confident that the skills and resilience they’ve built up in the Transitions program will follow them, equipping them for a brighter future. We’re grateful to have been able to be part of their recovery, and are eager to keep in touch with them through Survival Squad, our support group for past Transitions graduates.

Our women’s 2017 grad class standing with DECSA’s Teresa and Andrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or someone you know is being sexually exploited, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our trans-inclusive Transitions program may be the key to recovery and success.

Tickets on Sale for DECSA’s Surf & Turf Fundraiser

Remember last year’s inaugural Surf & Turf dinner? The music, the food, the competitive auction… Oh, you didn’t get to go because it was sold out? Well, tickets are now on sale for the second annual fundraiser! After the success of last year’s event, we knew it would become a staple of our fundraising efforts, while providing an entertaining evening for everyone in attendance.

Surf & Turf 2nd Annual Dinner and Fundraiser poster

The event, which takes place on May 27th, is a chance for Edmontonians to come together to support Albertans who face barriers to education and employment. DECSA relies on generous sponsors and community support to keep our doors open, and this Surf & Turf is one of the best and most enjoyable ways to show your support for our clients. If you’re concerned about breaking down barriers for people with disabilities, sexually exploited individuals, people facing mental health issues, and/or any Albertans dealing with other complex issues, you’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity.

Man doing jumping-jack-like movement in the air, guided by his partner.

Our guests had very creative dance moves!

Join us for fresh lobster, flown directly from P.E.I. Enjoy premium rib-eye steaks (or a vegetarian dish, if you prefer). Indulge in some dancing, and make use of our cash bar.

If you’re seeking additional ways to contribute, you can take part in our live and silent auctions, which will include items produced by local businesses. You can choose to bid on a wide range of items, including artwork, airline tickets, hotel stays, gift certificates, and even a luxurious Sunday brunch.

Tempted? Register and purchase your tickets online, or call (780) 474-2500. We’ll likely sell out once again, so don’t wait too long. We look forward to seeing you there!

People sitting at a table wearing bibs with lobsters on them

Lobster bibs were the pinnacle of fashion that evening!

We’re Serving Holiday Spirit (And We Need Your Help)

Throughout the year, our staff and clients are focused on hard-won progress. Breaking down barriers is never easy, and overcoming trauma and other challenges is tiring. So, when the holiday season approaches, we like to take time for reflection, appreciation, and joy.

On December 14, we’ll be hosting a Christmas luncheon for anyone who is or has been a client in the past year. By preparing and serving a holiday feast for our clients, we remind them that we acknowledge, admire, and respect their efforts and progress. DECSA would not be the same without them, and we owe them our gratitude. This is just one way we can demonstrate how much our clients mean to us, and also allows us to sit down and simply enjoy fun, unstructured time with them outside the daily routine.

All the food for our luncheon is generously provided by Edmonton’s Food Bank, and it will be prepared and served by our staff. Still, we need help to obtain catering supplies, such as chafing (heating) dishes, serving utensils etc. Without these, the event cannot take place, so we’re reaching out to you—supporters, family, friends, neighbours, partners—to help us ensure our clients can enjoy a delicious holiday meal. For many of our clients, who live in low-income circumstances, this turkey dinner may be the only gift they are given this year. Help us make their holidays a little brighter.

If you’re interested in donating, please visit our campaign’s page, where you can see how much we’ve raised so far and contribute your own gift toward our goal. Remember that even if you can’t give at this time, we will still benefit from a share or two. Please share our campaign on your social media page, and tell all your friends!

We thank you for your generosity. We know you’ll help us serve some holiday spirit for those who need it most this season.

The Holidays are a time of celebration and reflection, especially for individuals facing barriers. Support our GoFundMe campaign so we can host, feed, and bring joy to our clients!