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Good Night and Good Luck! Congratulations to our Ventures Graduates

Emotions ran wild at DECSA last Thursday! Ventures program clients wrapped up their six-week long curriculum, undertaking a gratifying ceremony in which many were left in wistful tears of jovial congratulations and farewells. The best part? Audience members were gifted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness splendid entrepreneurial pitches provided by none other than the blossoming businessmen and women who took on the program. For those who missed the chance to see the presentations first-hand, here is an in-depth account of the event—documenting photographs, quotes, business ideas, and raw reactions from the attendees!

What is the Ventures Program?

DECSA’s Ventures program serves people who are eighteen and older, live in Edmonton or surrounding areas, have a visible or invisible disability, and have a viable business idea they want to make happen. Those who take part are provided with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement their own small-time businesses.

photo2.jpgThe program is managed and facilitated by Sherree, along with her talented and hardworking team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Help

The ceremony began with a shout-out to two very special volunteers who were integral to the program’s success:

photo6Mona

Mona first found DECSA at a volunteer fair. She said the only agency that stood out to her was none other than DECSA! Thanks to our very own and incredibly articulate Aimee, who was able to rattle off a five-second pitch for DECSA, Mona knew immediately that the organization was right for her! “DECSA would be nothing without people like Aimee,” she said. Mona helped out the Ventures program every day and was essential to this year’s success.

 

 

 

 

 

photo3Denis

Denis is a graphic designer; he taught the science of branding and logo design to the class. He thanked his mom and dad. He “wouldn’t be here without ‘em!”

 

 

 

 

Pitches from Our Entrepreneurs

These are some of the graduating students of our June 2016 class.

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Kimberley was first up, and featured a very unique presentation using assistive technology to demonstrate some of the services she will be providing in her business. She’s planning on providing life & career counselling services to blind customers. Her compatriots admire her humour most; when helping Kimberley find her lighter Sherree asked for its colour. “How would I know what colour it is? — I’m blind!” Kimberley joked.

 

 

 

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Janet was next up. Her business provides hand and machine-sewn traditional Aboriginal clothing. She attributes her greatest inspiration to her grandmother; after her grandmother’s passing, Janet was reminded of her by a blue butterfly on her windowsill. “Let them go, let them be free,” she reminisced.

 

 

Brandon took on the notoriously awkward “elevator pitch.” After reciting a 30-second pitch to Sherree, Brandon gave us a tour of his website. Brandon offers graphic design services to artists and businesses, and promises to keep the industry and goals of his clients in mind when designing their logos.reu5rue

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Dustin believes that safer, alternative analgesics should be available for everyone. His business plan is to provide cost-efficient and donation-driven medical marijuana services to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dayna is a passionate artist who desires to provide low-cost digital and printed artwork to private buyers and businesses. She is currently working to establish her company, but wishes to soon be able to help others with disabilities achieve their goals.

 

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Congratulations to our Graduates!

Developing a start-up can be tough, but with the skills learned in the Ventures program these clients are better prepared for the challenging journeys that lie ahead. Good luck to all our graduates! Stay persistent, and remember to apply the skills you’ve learned here!

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What’s exciting at DECSA this summer?

#1 Free 10th Annual Community Pancake Breakfast

20150708_095937(1)Our 10th Annual Community Pancake Breakfast is coming up on July 6, from 7:30 to 10:30! As always, it’s completely free and open to everyone, so come by with or without kids to savour some fresh breakfast, join in organized games, leap around the bouncy castle, and tour a firetruck with local firefighters, or just chat with friends. And all this free fun is made possible only through donations from Northlands/Bellevue Community League and Re/Max Edmonton & Area Associates, to whom we are very, very thankful.

#2 Accepting new clients into the Assets for Success program

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All summer we’re accepting new intakes for Assets for Success, a program for people with disabilities who are seeking employment. Through this program we provide employment preparation workshops, one-on-one career counselling, and direct connections to employers, so if you have a disability, you’re looking for work, and you’re between 15 and 30, call us at 780-474-2500 to learn more.

 

#3 Down to Earth: Gardening with Youth At Risk

gardenThis summer, youth at risk will get outside to learn skills, make friends, and receive mentorship as they plant, grow, and harvest non-GMO vegetable seeds in plots on our grounds. This is a great opportunity for youth to have fun, take ownership of a project, and reap the benefits of their efforts! We’re still looking for support to cover costs, so check out our GoFundMe campaign to learn more and donate!

We hope to find you among the faces coming in and out of our doors this summer! If you’re looking for an excuse to stop by, consider volunteering! We’re searching for helpers for the breakfast, Down to Earth, and a few other projects this summer. If you’d enjoy volunteering with us, call our front desk at 780-474-2500 to learn more about our opportunities. Enjoy the warm, green months while they last!

Lillian in Assets Finds Work, Home and Hope

Lillian had been homeless for twelve years when she arrived at DECSA exhausted and discouraged. She was facing mental and emotional health challenges, and she was more than ready to find some stability. “I was broken, and I was trying to hide it, but I felt like I wasn’t worth anything,” she says.

Through our Assets for Success program, Lillian started to find her feet again. “Everyone at DECSA believed in me. They kept telling me I deserved something better, and I could get there.” The Assets team worked with her to gain several certificates and credentials that would show employers her credibility and open doors for Lillianconsistent work. She completed training in First Aid/CPR, ProServe, construction safety, Workplace Hazardous Materials, Medical Administration, and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills.

Then, with guidance from the Assets team, she found work as a Personal Care Aide in a group home for children, so now she is using her skills and strengths to serve kids who face challenges.

Lillian received the financial aid she needed to rent an apartment, and she has been able to furnish it through donations from one of DECSA’s connections. Now Lillian is settling into her new life.

“I get up in the morning, and I look out my window, and I’m facing a lake! Last year I was homeless. Now I am in awe, and I’ll be grateful forever to DECSA because I’d lost hope in myself and they kept telling me I could get on my feet again. They believed in me, and I feel like they gave me back myself.”

We are so proud of Lillian, who has showed herself to be brave, determined, hard-working, and very capable. Congratulations, Lillian!

Aaron – Assets for Success Program

AaronDECSA is proud to announce that Aaron, a client in the Assets for Success program, has been hired at Tim Hortons; and after just two weeks, the store owner was so impressed that he increased his responsibilities. Aaron has gained a lot of self-confidence and is happy to be working at Tim Hortons. He was also able to obtain new work shoes free of charge through our partnership with Mark’s.

In addition, since coming to DECSA and participating in the program, Aaron discovered he has a passion for heavy duty equipment operating. To support Aaron’s long-term goal, the Assets for Success team has linked him with High Velocity Equipment Training and is assisting him to obtain funding to attend school there in the future.

Congratulations, Aaron!

Looking for Employment? Join ASSETS FOR SUCCESS Before August 21!‏

PLEASE NOTE: As of August 21, intakes for our Assets for Success program are closed for the year.

If you have a mental health condition (depression, stress, phobia, anxiety, etc) and employment is your goal, then Assets for Success is the program for you!

Am I eligible for this program?

  • Albertans 18 years of age or older
  • Unemployed or marginally employed (less than 20 hours per week)
  • Not eligible for Employment Insurance
  • Self-disclosed mental health condition

Call us at (780) 474-2500 before August 21 to enrol!

Watch our new video below for more information.

Career Fair at Alberta Indigenous Games 2015

On July 14 & 15, 2015, DECSA hosted our Career Fair at the Alberta Indigenous Games.

Aboriginal youth, athletes and community members came from around Rundle Park, where the games are hosted, to learn about employment and education opportunities, or even to get hired on the spot.

You can check out photos of all the action below.

 AIG 2015 poster (left); ENBA President Martha Campiou at AIG opening ceremonies (right)

The Career Fair gets underway

Mayor Don Iveson meets the DECSA team

Courtney and Brigjilda offer help with résumés

DECSA would like to thank all of our sponsors and exhibitors for supporting our Career Fair. Visit their websites to find upcoming job & education opportunities and to learn more:

Nothing Beats Confidence!

We are honoured to have Confidence Coach Shirley Borrelli join us here at DECSA (11515 71 Street) on April 30th at 2pm. Shirley will be presenting on how to increase your chances of getting hired by projecting confidence, even if you don’t feel it! All are welcome to attend.11009082_466971186787882_1958501650160680295_n

The DECSAmobile!

Clients and staff gathered on the front lawn of DECSA on Tuesday to watch the arrival of a generous gift from ATB Financial: a cargo van! The van, which even features DECSA’s logo, was driven up to the front of the building by staff from ATB Financial, and presented to DECSA’s CEO Deborah Rose by Sandra Huculak from ATB.

DECSA will be able to use the van for a variety of purposes, including trips to the Edmonton Food Bank to pick up groceries for clients.

Thank you ATB Financial!

 

Open House

Yesterday, October 23rd, was our Open House, and are so thankful for what turned out to be an awesome day.  We enjoyed meeting new people, as well as reconnecting with some more  familiar faces. It was the perfect opportunity for participants and staff alike to share what we do here at DECSA, and present it in a creative and interactive way.  Seeing as there is such a sense of community here at DECSA, we wanted our guests to be involved in the experience, rather than just display each program’s information.

The Ventures program invited two of their successful participants to bring their businesses with them- Chipman 1/4lb. Fish and Chips , who served his food truck fare to hungry guests, and author David O’ Riordan who sold his books inside. The Assets for Success program engaged guests by offering a variety of scheduled activities including “Jeopardy” and “Speed Interviews”, which were a hit for everyone involved. One guest even cut a hallway conversation short by saying “Quick though, because I’ve got to get back to Jeopardy!”  Transitions participants turned their space into a virtual tour of what is offered in their program, and created colourful displays representing topics such as Anger Management and Career Development. They even provided cookies baked during their Basic Shelf workshop!

Attendees were able to enter their names for a chance to win one of two door prizes: a leather jacket, or a yoga mat. Light refreshments were also provided, with the punch apparently stealing the show! When asked how he rated the Open House, one guest responded : “It’s a 9/10”. He then took a sip of his punch and added: “Oh wait, no. Now it’s a 10/10”

How do we feel our Open House went? As staff member Joe puts it : “Our  Open House event’s positive outcome was the  result of a great team effort.  I was proud to be able to welcome most of the incoming guests and to encourage them to sign the guest book at the table decorated with a beautiful flower bouquet.   The whole atmosphere was very friendly.  The display of our programs’ information was informative and inviting.  This kind of in-house networking, the interior decorations, the openness of staff to answering any questions, to offer a tour of the building, etc. was really impressive.  Everything was very well organized and performed in a nice, synchronized way.  It was good to see a substantial number of visitors representing various services and agencies in the community.”

A huge thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered, supported, or promoted our Open House yesterday. We couldn’t have done it without YOU!

Go Eskimos!

Most Edmontonians, whether you enjoy football or not, have probably already heard that tomorrow marks the kick-off of the Edmonton Eskimos season. Many fans have been counting down the days, ready to cheer on the green and gold on their home turf. But most people probably don’t know that DECSA staff and participants will be a part of the Eskimo season this year!

Starting June 13th, we will be volunteering at all Eskimo home games selling ice cream to hungry fans during the summer season, and hot chocolate once cooler weather hits. We will also be selling ice cream at all the Edmonton Women’s FIFA World Cup games!

This venture will give our participants experience serving customers, handling cash, managing inventory, and working with food, all of which can be added to a resume. Furthermore, it gives staff and participants alike a chance to get out into the community, meet new people, and share some Edmontonian spirit!

So, if you’re at the game cheering for the Eskimos (or the BC Lions- we won’t judge), be sure to stop by, say hello, and maybe grab an ice cream, or two!

Check out Twitter (@DECSAEdmonton) on game day to see where we are located!ball-220047_640

 

Interested in volunteering? Sign up here for more information: http://vols.pt/eEsWeR