When you think of EPCOR you might think of your power bill or your water usage. When I think of EPCOR I’m reminded of my father sternly reminding me to always “turn out the lights!” However, here at BGCBigs, we think of EPCOR a little bit differently.

As a charity, we rely heavily on donors and funders to support us in achieving our vision. Just last year our programs supported over 5000 youth. We provide daily meals, one on one mentoring, group mentoring, homework help, youth employment programs, and everything in between. It’s a large undertaking and one that isn’t possible without our partnership with EPCOR.

EPCOR has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past ten years to our agency. In the last three years they have donated thousands of dollars towards our mentoring and after school programs at our McCauley location. This support has enabled us to enhance our regular programs, provide trainings for our staff, and expand our impact to almost 500 children and youth in the McCauley area. A concrete example of the progress we have been able to see includes the hiring of an Arabic speaking staff member and the implementation of a pre-settlement program that served over 150 Syrian children during the Syrian refugee immigration to Edmonton in January 2015. We will never forget when the Syrian children came to us in the middle of a cold winter and were awed and delighted to play in the snow for the first time, ever! We couldn’t have accomplished these things without EPCOR’s generous donations.

But the giving doesn’t stop there. EPCOR provides a program for its employees called Helping Hands. Any employee who volunteers 30 or more hours in a calendar year is eligible to receive a $300 Helping Hands Grant to which they may donate to the charity or non-profit organization of their choice. Many of EPCOR’s employees choose to volunteer at and give back to BGCBigs. They have volunteered at our Spring Barbecue, our annual Christmas Party, and some even participate in our mentoring program by having their own Littles in the community that they support. EPCOR’s own Mansur Bitar, director of distribution, sits on our volunteer board of directors. We appreciate his contribution. Each individual effort has a huge impact.

EPCOR has worked tirelessly to support us. When we recently shared with them that we struggle to find male mentors for our Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, EPCOR invited us to set up an informational booth in the EPCOR Tower last month. As an incentive, EPCOR provided free ice-cream for all employees who attended and were educated. More than 50 employees attended and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

Every year we have three large fundraising events: the Children’s Golf Classic, the Lobster Lovers Feast, and the Dream Home Lottery. While EPCOR supports us by providing volunteers for our Lobster Lovers event, they support us behind the scenes as well. When we shared with EPCOR our need for improved marketing strategies regarding these events, EPCOR donated in-kind services to help support our marketing and advertising strategies. Their generous donation will allow us to increase our impact in the community and improve the lives of our kids.

From inviting us to their events, taking an active role in our programs, and providing empowering opportunities for our youth, EPCOR has impacted our agency in incredible ways. Their “Ready, Set, Go,” initiative promotes positive growth in our community and we are honored to participate in their vision. You might think of EPCOR as just a business, but here at BGCBigs, we think of them as family.

This blog post was written by Attena Keeler, BGCBigs volunteer and a student at MacEwan University

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