Three years ago, Darryl Szafranski – Northlands Director, Community Relations, Communications & Government Relations – made a call to BGCBigs that started a relationship that would change and improve the ways in which we are able to connect with our community.
On the COMMUNITY page of the Northlands website, the headline says, “Creating tomorrow’s memories every day”. Almost exactly a year ago, this incredible group of individuals fulfilled their promise in the hearts and minds of kids, families and volunteers from Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters (BGCBigs).
250 turkeys, 100 kg of dressing, 125 kg of mashed potatoes, 30 bowls of salad, 85 litres of gravy and 1500 homemade cookies. 80 Northlands staff. 1400 grateful guests.
A true celebration of the holiday season was made possible by the generosity of Northlands who first came to BGCBigs with the offer of their facilities for child and volunteer activities. When the idea of holding the annual Christmas party at the Expo Centre was brought forward, the team responded in an overwhelming way.
As guests arrived on the frosty Edmonton afternoon they were greeted warmly by Northlands staff. Beautiful decorations left for us by Worley Parsons lent atmosphere to the inviting space. Santa Claus himself came by to make kids feel special and with the help of some incredible friends in the community, gave gifts to each of them. Music filled the air as families and volunteers got to know each other and kids excitedly took part in activities. Wide-eyed children asked “is this all for us?” when dinner was served.
In a conversation between one of our staff and a group of parents, we understood clearly, the impact the event was having. “I’ve never had the chance to take my family to such a party. There are table cloths, real plates, as much food as we can eat, and people who are happy to serve us.” As we walked through the hall, we overheard similar comments as Moms and Dads and kids and volunteers, came together to celebrate each other and the season in a grand way. “The food was delicious and we can’t believe the staff…they really seem like they want to be here with us!”
Through Northlands’ support, BGCBigs has had access to community events like K-Days. We’ve participated in events and activities previously out of our scope and we’ve received media attention and recruited new volunteers. We’ve been able to provide new and exciting experiences for our kids and families. And our relationships with other organizations are stronger and our ability to connect, greater.
As we prepare for our 2nd Holiday Party and Awards afternoon at Northlands this Sunday, we are reminded of all the things these wonderful people – this wonderful organization – has done for us and for our community’s children. We are truly grateful. Merry Christmas Northlands!