HOPE worldwide Canada

From a Distance: Providing Christmas Cheer for Youth in Need

HOPE worldwide Canada is calling on Winnipeggers to help make the holidays a little more special for young people living alone in care and without a strong support network.

Our Winnipeg Chapter has created a Christmas Wishlist for young people who have been identified by Winnipeg Child and Family Services as those really in need of some Christmas cheer, especially during this unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic.  One might say we could all use a little more Christmas cheer and HOPE.

The original plans for the Christmas Wishlist program had to be shifted in order to adhere to current Manitoba COVID-19 restrictions. So now, instead of purchasing physical gifts for the young people on our wish list, we are requesting donors to purchase and send electronic gift cards as presents.  This will ensure that donors do not have to leave their homes to shop and volunteers do not need to drive around the city to make deliveries which could put them and the recipients at risk.

Heather Wonnick, Resource Supervisor for Winnipeg Child & Family Services stated “It is important that these young people know that they are cared about and are not alone. With the act of giving, it emphasizes a sense of community for them, which they would not normally have or may have but in a limited connection. Fulfilling the wish list also teaches these young people the concept of volunteering and the concept of generosity. Hopefully this may inspire them to do acts of kindness for others when they are able to.”

The Christmas Wishlist program involves 4 easy steps for donors:

  1. Visit the Christmas Wishlist site, hopewwc.org/christmaswishlist
  2. Read about and pledge a young person
  3. Purchase an online gift card
  4. Email the gift card and personalized holiday greetings to wishlist@hopewwcanada.org

The Wishlist Administrator will confirm receipt of the electronic gift card to each donor and will email the presents and any accompanying holiday greetings out to the recipients before Christmas morning.

Our Winnipeg Chapter is excited to launch this new program and invites everyone to help make the holidays extra special for youth in need of extra Christmas Cheer!

Questions on the Christmas Wishlist program can be directed to Anna Petter, Winnipeg Chapter Director. Merry Christmas!

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Building Partnerships with Local Organizations to Meet Needs

To increase our impact in the local community and beyond, Winnipeg’s Chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada is making a point to partner with local organizations. Thanks to Diane Nickel, a teacher at Leila North Community School and a HOPE worldwide Canada volunteer, we have joined forces with the staff at her school to provide hampers for a Manitobans in need.

For over 25 years, Leila North Community School has been providing hampers for Indigenous children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, some of whom attend school at Leila North. These families have made the difficult decision to leave their homes in northern communities in order to seek ongoing medical care for their children at Health Sciences Centre.

“The division provides a hamper, we top up that hamper with additional staple items and the items Diane collects (from the Winnipeg Chapter volunteers).  In addition we provide a hot meal through the work of our staff…The hot meal lets the families know we are thinking of them and miss them” says Melissa Delaronde, Principal of Leila North Community School. The staff also makes an effort to ensure there are fresh fruits and vegetables in each hamper.

“Providing a hamper alleviates the financial burden and the worry of having to go get groceries, especially during this isolation time” says Diane, who works directly with some of these children. “When a student comes to you and says ‘This is the first meal I’ve had in days.’ it touches your heart… If I can ease some of that burden for just one kid, one family, I know that child will forever be grateful.”

Diane Nickel sorting through hamper supplies

Over the month of April, Leila North Community School provided 80 hampers for these families, 1/3 of which were donated by HOPE worldwide Canada volunteers.

“Being a volunteer for HOPE worldwide Canada for many years, I knew this was a program they could get behind” says Diane, who has been an active volunteer for 15 years. “I love being a HOPE worldwide Canada volunteer because I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces and just chatting with a child who is not listened to every day. I also think it’s important to give back to the world that God has blessed us with” she adds.

We will continue to work alongside Leila North Community School to provide hampers, and once this pandemic is over, we look forward to seeing how we can help this community in new ways. Thank you to Diane and the staff at Leila North Community School for allowing us to be a part of your vision to bring hope and change lives!

Winnipeg Volunteers Serving from a Distance

How can we continue to serve during a time when loving our neighbours means staying home and keeping a physical distance? Volunteers in Winnipeg have found several ways and are busy serving the community while keeping safe!

Hampers for a Community In Need

Our volunteers recently donated supplies for 15 hampers for First Nations families from Winnipeg’s North End community. The families affected currently reside in transitional housing specifically for First Nations patients who require ongoing lifesaving treatment for renal failure, cancer, and other chronic health issues. Many families are unable to work as they are displaced from their homes or are without work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Winnipeg Chapter is partnering with a local middle school, Leila North Community School, whose teachers have been supporting the program for many years. Collection of items will be ongoing over the next several months!

Just some of the many supplies collected to form 15 hampers for in need families during the pandemic.

Foster Care Support

HOPE worldwide Canada is also working with our main partner, the Winnipeg Church of Christ Inc., to meet needs of youth and families being supported by Winnipeg Child & Family Services Agencies. Needs are found through the Care Portal, a tool that connects churches to youth and families in need. Since the pandemic began, the Campus Ministry volunteers have been able to meet the needs of 2 families, including helping a University student move off of campus as the University he attended was requesting all students leave residence.  

Looking Out for Needs

As the pandemic situation continues, we hope that more needs can be met using creativity and the many tools available in Manitoba to match volunteers with people in the community. We are asking all volunteers to examine the online tool options available to them for serving:

  • Nextdoor App – connect with people in your neighbourhood
  • helpnextdoormb.ca — the Manitoba government website that lists needs in the community that volunteers can offer to meet.
  • https://buylocal.ly/ – support local businesses that are still operating

So whether our volunteers in Winnipeg choose 1 or more of the options we’ve listed to serve or find other ways to meet needs, we know they will do so with a heart to serve while also maintaining the physical distancing protocols of the Manitoba government.

If you have any more suggestion on how our volunteers can serve our neighbours in need or if you would like to get involved with our Winnipeg Chapter, please contact krista.wiebe@hopewwcanada.org.

“Teamwork makes the dream work”

“Teamwork makes the dream work” – this couldn’t be more true for the Winnipeg chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada. As we reflect on the past year in celebrating our amazing volunteers there are many examples of collaboration with community groups and volunteers working together to bring hope and change lives!

January brought an opportunity to partner with École Leila North to support families in need. Our volunteers focused on collecting clothing for youth while teachers and students collected non-perishable foods to help fill the cupboards. In previous years, staff and students have generously provided props for an annual picnic event and have also collected cases of non-perishable foods to support our Stock the Shelves drive (see both below!). What a great partnership!

February saw many of our volunteers young and old braving the cold alongside other charitable groups to raise funds for Main Street Project as part of the “Coldest Night of the Year” charity walk.

The spring months were focused on our partnership with Winnipeg Child and Family Services. The month of March was spent engaging friends and family to help collect necessities (food and household products) to “Stock the Shelves” for youth struggling to make ends-meet. During April and May (as well as in the autumn months) volunteers were busy teaching life skills classes to youth preparing for independent living while in care.

In May close to 200 of our friends, family and community partners came out for a delicious breakfast while helping us raise $1,745 to support the Centers of HOPE in the Philippines. At the end of May volunteers joined forces with Centennial Community Improvement Association to help clean the neighbourhood while building friendships along the way.

Volunteers heading out for the Centennial Neighborhood Community Clean up

The summer was a time for picnics and festivals! Volunteers helped with face painting, serving food and playing games with kids and families at the Kids in Kare picnic hosted by Winnipeg Child and Family Services. Our HOPE chapter and OHEYS Autism Programs teamed up for another fun Autism Community Family picnic featuring hot dogs, games and a superhero photo-booth with a backdrop created by students at École Leila North! We also promoted our programs at the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival – a partnership that has lasted for many years.

In July and August the Winnipeg chapter hosted our second HOPE Volunteer Corps where volunteers from across North America travelled to Winnipeg to serve as Camp Counsellors for youth living in foster care in our 2 week Max Out! Summer day camp.

In early October – 31 dedicated volunteers braved the rain walking and riding to raise over $7,000 for our local programs in the Ride for Refuge.

We ended off the year with the Max Out! The Holidays pancake breakfast and family fun event. Families that participated in the Max Out! Summer day camp were reunited with many of the volunteers from the summer to celebrate the season together. Our plan is to continue with this relationship and hold other events throughout the year.

Wow what a busy year! Please help us to honour our volunteers with a virtual hug and high five! We are unable to hold our annual volunteer appreciation service due to the current COVID-19 pandemic but rest assured that we are still busy trying to find creative ways to serve our community during this challenging time.

Winnipeg Maxes out the Holidays

On December 14th, our Winnipeg Chapter put on a fun-filled holiday party for the campers from our Max Out Summer! day camp. 35 volunteers served up pancakes and some heart- warming fun to 33 youth and their families to help max out the holidays!

Throughout the morning, the kids and their families enjoyed face-painting, getting their pictures taken in a snowman themed photo booth, creating reindeer gift bags and gifts for family members, as well as participating in a slew of holiday themed activities. The day ended with a door prize draw for board games packs, movie and Manitoba Moose tickets, as well as some nice Winnipeg Jets swag. The spirit of the season could also be seen as one of the young participants decided to donate his door prize back so that someone else could win and enjoy the gift.

It was wonderful to reconnect and continue to build on friendships that began with these kids in our Max Out Summer! day camp. Most of these kids have attended our free summer day camp for children involved with Winnipeg Child & Family Services for the past 2 summers. The day camp is part of our Winnipeg HOPE Volunteer Corps with the goal of teaching and mentoring youth in care to build life skills and friendships while having simple, good old fun. Volunteers, young and old, were inspired that many participants remembered their time at the day camp and the special connections they had made with volunteers they had met. It brought joy to see the hearts of the children be encouraged and excited.

Winnipeg volunteers look forward to continuing to build these relationships with more opportunities to meet up throughout the year. We would like to extend a huge thank you to True North Sports and Entertainment, Giant Tiger Store #446, Safeway Inc. and our many volunteers for helping to make this event so special for everyone.

Recognizing Winnipeg Volunteers

What would we do without our volunteers? They are the lifeblood of all of our programs and events in the Winnipeg chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada. As we get ready to celebrate and honour our volunteers on April 7, 2019, here is a recap of the impact made to bring hope and change lives in 2018!

We started off in February by getting off the couch and into the cold! Over 14 volunteers of all ages participated in the “Coldest Night of the Year” Walk to raise much needed funds to support at risk youth  in Winnipeg.

Our volunteers walking alongside other Winnipegers in support of Coldest Night of the Year

The spring months we were focused on initiatives supporting youth in foster care. In March volunteers pounded the pavement to canvas friends, family and co-workers to collect non-perishable food items as well as personal and household products to “Stock the Shelves” for youth struggling to make ends meet. During April and May volunteers were busy teaching life skills classes to youth that are getting ready to age out of foster care.

In the month of April our chapter also hosted a breakfast fundraiser in support of the Centers of HOPE in the Philippines. Over 30 volunteers served in different capacities such as taking and selling tickets, serving food, waiting on and busing tables.  130 generous people came out for breakfast to support the children feeding program at the Philippines Centers of Hope.

June was a busy month filled with cleaning up an inner city neighbourhood, celebrating Filipino culture, helping at the Winnipeg CFS Kids in Kare picnic and hosting a family picnic for families in the autism community. Special thanks to OHEYS autism programs and RBC volunteers for helping to make the family picnic so special and to RBC for providing a $1000 grant as part of their Benevity Community Impact Fund.

Raising awareness of the Centers of HOPE Philippines at the MB Filipino Street Festival

In July and August the Winnipeg chapter hosted its first ever Hope Youth Corps where 24 youth from across Canada and the United States travelled to Winnipeg to serve in our day camps for children who are wards of Child & Family Services agencies. Our chapter volunteers spent hours preparing for the Youth Corps participants and both Winnipeg volunteers and Youth Corps participants spent hundreds of hours to make the day camps a success….the impact of their service was felt by all!

Spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals for HOPE Youth Corps participants

In the fall volunteers facilitated another session of life skills classes for kids getting ready to age out of foster care and in October volunteers walked and rode to raise funds for our chapter programs in the annual Ride for Refuge event. 35 volunteers raised over $9000!

Dedicated volunteers excited to ride 25K in support of Winnipeg programs

We ended off the year with the Homeless Christmas Wishlist program. This event took place over November and December and involved over 300 volunteer hours including students from St Avila School raising funds to purchase gifts, wrap them and make handmade cards.The hearts of the volunteers were moved and the recipients felt the love and compassion as well as receiving a personalized gift and card with well wishes.

Wow, what a busy year! Please join us on April 7 to celebrate and honour our volunteers – without them and their hearts to serve none of these events would be possible!

Busy Month of June for Winnipeg

June was a busy month for Winnipeg HOPE volunteers!

We started off the month on June 9 by helping with the Centennial Neighbourhood clean-up, the hearts of the volunteers wanting to not just improve the neighbourhood visually, but also to help make it feel more like a community.  Twenty-two volunteers, including many kids, worked with dedicated people in the neighbourhood to clean the garbage strewn about, and to ensure areas where children play was safer – by cleaning up used needles.

Robert Borgersen and his son take a break during the clean-up activities

The same weekend marked the 6th year our Winnipeg Chapter participated in the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival. Our enthusiastic volunteers spent their weekend sharing about work being done locally and abroad in the Centers of HOPE Philippines in order to garner support, donations and more volunteers! Festival goers enjoyed free ice candies made by one of our dedicated volunteers and some made financial donations which will go towards supporting the feeding program in the Center of Hope in Tacloban.

Volunteers at the Festival booth ready to speak with Festival attendees about
HOPE worldwide Canada and HOPE worldwide Philippines

June 23 marked our annual National Day of Service where over forty volunteers lent their time, energy, and creativity for the second annual Autism Community Family Picnic. Heavy rain was in the forecast but as the picnic began all the clouds rolled way and families with children on the autism spectrum enjoyed the day put on by HOPE worldwide Canada. Over 70 people were in attendance in addition to the volunteers running the show and enjoyed the opportunity to beat the unexpected heat with water balloons. HOPE volunteers along with RBC volunteers partnered with the OHEYS Autism Program who were gractious enough to provide all of the sensory friendly equipment used. Participants enjoyed a superhero themed photo booth, a pirate station, balloon pit for younger children, a large colourful parachute and oversized beach ball – we even had an appearance by Wonder Woman! The children with their families are definitely the real super heroes though, and it was an honour to be able to bring smiles to their faces.

A special thank you to RBC for providing a $1000 grant as part of their Benevity Community Impact Fund.

Volunteers and kids alike having fun with the picnic activities

How YOU Can Make a Difference This Christmas Season

Our Vancouver and Winnipeg chapters are participating in an exciting Christmas program again this year – Homeless Christmas Wish List. In these 2 cities, HOPE volunteers have gone out to various shelters and collectively interviewed people experiencing poverty and homelessness in conjunction with Homeless Partners and the Homeless Christmas Wish List.

Winnipeg volunteers at Siloam Mission to interview individuals for Christmas Wish List
Winnipeg volunteers at Siloam Mission to interview individuals for Christmas Wish List

How the Program Works

Volunteers interview people who are dependent on homeless shelters. Then more volunteers post these stories on the Homeless Partners website. Donors then go online, choose a person and a gift that person is requesting. They then go buy the gift and deliver it to the shelter wrapped and the shelter staff ensures it gets to the right person. Homeless Partners is unique because it focuses on the personal stories of the homeless, so empathy can be encouraged in our society to change the negative perspectives associated with homelessness.

Kimberlee Potter, Winnipeg original program director says of the program, ““I love everything about this program. Not only were the volunteers’ hearts moved by engaging with homeless individuals in the interviews, but those being interviewed really seem to appreciate the opportunity to tell their story. This program isn’t just about collecting donations; it’s about understanding a little more what our fellow citizens are going through and letting them know we care with a personal gift.”

Vancouver team of interview volunteers
Vancouver team of interview volunteers

How You Can Help

This Christmas season, visit www.homelesspartners.com to pledge a gift. Click on Read Stories and then click on your City (or one nearest you), click on a Shelter Name, read the stories and pledge a gift.

Our goal is that every person whom we’ve interviewed receives at least one gift on Christmas morning.

For more information on this program, contact or Krista Wiebe (Winnipeg), Glen Sullivan (Vancouver) or visit www.homelesspartners.com

 

Featured Image Credit: https://ow.ly/FoQ0q

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Providing Life Lessons for Youth in Care

We can often take for granted the life lessons we receive from our families…how to cook, how to manage our money or even the support we get in finding out first place away from home. For youth in Winnipeg’s foster care system, those life lessons have often not been imparted and the transition to living on their own can be quite challenging.

When our Winnipeg chapter of HOPE worldwide Canada heard of these often lost opportunities for youth in care they were eager to find a way to help fill the void. Our chapter is currently in its 5th year of providing life skills instruction to youth who are preparing to age out of the child welfare system and live independently. HOPE volunteers have developed the course material based on the real needs of the youth and teach 8 of the 9 topics offered to youth ages 14 to 21.

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Participants working together in the cooking class

In these classes, youth learn how to budget and manage their money based on real life scenarios – what they will actually receive when they are living on their own – and gain a better understanding of the value of working and saving their money. They also learn how to prepare a resume, look for a job and conduct themselves in a job interview. Classes are also offered on personal safety, finding an apartment, conflict resolution, nutrition, and in the cooking class they prepare a few meals together.

The program has also been modified by our dedicated volunteers to be taught to other groups. One such group is the Exit Up program run by Siloam Mission. The Exit Up program assists young adults ages 18-25 years who were previously in the foster care system and are reaching out for support and assistance with establishing themselves in this new stage in life.

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Teachers and assistants for the Nutrition, Apartment Renting, Safety, Employment and Cooking Classes

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Teachers and assistants for the Conflict Resolution, Money Management and Cooking classes

Our chapter recently received a Youth in Philanthropy grant from The Winnipeg Foundation to help develop practical experiences for youth in care to learn these life skills. Starting in 2016, the Winnipeg chapter launched the Monthly Meets program where volunteers take small groups on monthly excursions for practice in obtaining these life skills. The youth are guided through a grocery store to learn comparing prices and shopping tricks, have a mock job interview with actual Manitoba employers, visit a bank to learn how to set up accounts and use the ATM safely, learn self-defense techniques from a trained coach. Topics and teaching methods will be geared to best meet the youths’ needs.

Life Skills programming is  really a win-win for everyone involved. Statistics show that close to half of individuals experiencing homelessness spent some time in the child welfare system and one of the biggest risk factors is a lack of practical life skills. Our diverse group of volunteers are able to share their real life experiences and expertise with the youth. Our hope is that this program can make a difference by helping to break a cycle of homelessness and poverty right here in Winnipeg.

Life Skills Classes:

  • Introduction
  • Renting an Apartment
  • Pre-Employment
  • Money Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Nutrition/Addictions
  • Cooking Practicals
  • Protecting Yourself

Monthly Meets Excursions:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Job interviews
  • Apartment rentals
  • Cellphone contracts
  • Banking and credit cards
  • Self Protection
  • Cooking
  • Household repairs
  • Cleaning the house

For more information on the Life Skills classes or our Monthly Meets program, please contact Kimberlee Potter (Program Director) or Krista Wiebe (Chapter Director).

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Philippines Trip 2016

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This past May 2016 our Country Director, Brian Felushko, travelled to the Philippines along with some other dedicated HOPE worldwide Canada volunteers to see the results of our fundraising efforts after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.  As they travelled to the various sites it became quite apparent the magnitude of the work being done in the Philippines and the importance of sharing with HOPE worldwide Canada volunteers, donors and supporters the impact their donations have made.

Below please find videos of the trip and the different locations Brian Felushko and the team saw during their 2 week visit.