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.
The 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
#1 Free 10th Annual Community Pancake Breakfast
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
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
This 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!
Who knew that pencil crayons could turn your life around?
If you told Emma a year ago that today she’d be a thriving artist and the instructor of Try Angles – an art class under the umbrella of the Community Linking Programs, Wellness Network – she wouldn’t have believed you. She wasn’t an artist, she was a business woman, and drawing and painting weren’t even on her list of things to do for fun.
It was through some dark times that her inner artist began to emerge about a year ago. Struggling in an abusive relationship and facing overwhelming depression, Emma attempted to take her own life. When she woke up in the hospital, getting a box of pencil crayons was the first step to a complete life change for Emma. She’d never done much art before, and she found that it was exactly what she needed. “It was therapy for me, and it was amazing,” she says. “Art is so relaxing! It doesn’t let my mind wander into the past or future. I am in the moment – now. Yesterday I can’t control. Tomorrow hasn’t come. Now is the only time I can control.”
Art became a doorway into good mental health for Emma, and she started attending Try Angles, an art class for adults living with mental health or addictions. She soaked up every class and even started creating art at home.
Now, a year later, she is teaching two Try Angles classes and creating all sorts of beautiful artworks in her free time. “I am very, very happy for the first time,” she says. “My life is good. I never thought I’d stay that, but it is.”
Emma is now bringing the Try Angles art class to DECSA on Tuesdays from 1:30 until 3:30, and you are welcome to join us. Come with two dollars for supplies and all your artistic enthusiasm!
The Try Angles art class is under the umbrella of the Community Linking Programs, Wellness Network. These programs are available on a drop-in, non-referred basis for adults living with mental health and addictions. Please contact Cathy at 780-342-7765 or visit www.WellnessNetworkEdmonton.com for more information.
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 consistent 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!
DECSA 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.
Shaw TV has produced a Road to Hope feature on DECSA’s Transitions program!
Watch the video below to hear about the difference DECSA has made in the lives of three women who exited the sex trade.
If you would like to donate to DECSA or volunteer, please e-mail Deborah Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a fan of the Edmonton Oilers?
Would you like to support the important work done by the programs at DECSA?
Then grab your Oilers tickets and come on down to DECSA (11515 – 71 St), where you can park for only $5! We’re only a 10 minute walk from Rexall Place. We’re a community-based, non-profit charitable organization, so you can be sure your money is going somewhere good.
And if you’re a mega-fan of the Oilers, you can buy a Season Parking Pass for only $150! You can pay using cash, cheque or PayPal.
You also have the option of donating $150 to DECSA – the money will go towards our programs, and you’ll have purchased a Season Parking Pass for one of our clients! This is a fantastic way to support DECSA, while also giving a great gift to someone who will appreciate it.
If you would like more info on our event parking, or to purchase a Parking Pass for yourself or a client, please call 780-471-9649.
For DECSA, giving means bringing positive change to our community. We strive to give every day by supporting individuals with barriers to employment and education.
What does giving mean to you?
If you believe, like we do, that everybody can reach their full potential through acceptance and empowerment, then you might be interested in giving $3 to DECSA.
You might ask the question: what could we possibly do with $3?
The answer: until the end of June, every dollar donated will automatically enter us to win a $10,000 donation from CanadaHelps!
All you have to do is visit our page on the Great Canadian Giving Challenge website, enter your donation amount, and go from there.
No matter how much you give, your generosity will help support DECSA clients today and for many days to come.
Visit https://www.canadahelps.org/gcgc/84108 before June 30 to donate $3 and enter us to win $10,000.
Truly, every donation counts!
In case you haven’t heard, every month we host an indoor marketplace here at DECSA, where small businesses have a chance to sell their products at an inexpensive venue. If you didn’t already need an excuse to come shopping at DECSA, we’ve put together 5 more reasons why you should support small businesses.
1.They tend to offer personalized customer service. When was the last time you walked into a big box store and the cashier knew your name? Small business owners are often the face of the company and are therefore more invested in making sure their customers are satisfied with their shopping experience.
2.They are more likely to give back. Small businesses often have strong relationships with members of their community and are more likely to support local causes.
3.They can offer unique merchandise. A locally owned clothing store probably won’t have hundreds of the same dress in stock, meaning that the chances of encountering someone wearing the exact same outfit as you are highly unlikely.
4.They contribute to the local economy. When money is spent in the community, it stays within the area, benefitting everyone who lives there.
5.They help with environmental sustainability. Small businesses are often located downtown rather then on the outskirts of a city, which cuts back on sprawl and pollution.
Don’t forget to stop by the DECSA Marketplace between 10am-3pm at 11515- 71 Street!