SMS Engineering shares their generous spirits.

SMS Engineering’s United Way workplace campaign was an event-filled week.

The Winnipeg-based engineering firm, which shares a birthday with United Way (happy 50th anniversary, SMS!), began their workplace campaign last week by hosting United Way agency speaker Denise Allard.

Denise is a client and volunteer with CNIB, and an advocate for people with disabilities.

“She told a fascinating story of her life. It was really good,” said SMS’s employee campaign chair and engineer-in-training Andrew Schinkel.

The SMS United Way campaign committee, from left, Sheila, Bridget, Andrew, and Jason, with breakfast.

The SMS United Way campaign committee, from left, Sheila, Bridget, Andrew, and Jason, with breakfast.

The week included events and activities like a Ukrainian lunch and putting green and basketball contests, and ended with a full breakfast Friday with bacon, pancakes, fruit and all the fixings.

“SMS has been a big supporter of United Way,” said Sponsored Executive Tamara Borgesen Kaminsky, who was interested to learn that SMS was involved in the design of United Way’s Main Street building.

Sponsored Executives Zoran, Enisty, and Tamara with Ukrainian deliciousness.

United Way Sponsored Executives Zoran, Enisty, and Tamara with Ukrainian deliciousness.

Andrew was pleased with the participation of his co-workers.

“Ultimately it’s to give back to the community. To help others.”

Thank you, SMS, and happy birthday!

Bridget on bacon duty!

Bridget on bacon duty!

Sponsored Executives Evelyn and Curtis helping get breakfast served.

Sponsored Executives Evelyn and Curtis helping get breakfast served.

MPI gives Teen Stop Jeunesse some wheely big help!

The St. Vital drop-in centre is getting a little more mobile, thanks to the good folks at MPI!

The generous donation of a van by Manitoba Public Insurance will make life easier for staff and kids at Teen Stop Jeunesse.

“Usually we have to send two staff with their own vehicles for five to six kids,” said Teen Stop executive director Pat LeBlanc.

Teen Stop executive director Pat LeBlanc, left, gets the keys for a van last Friday from MPI’s Mark Grant, manager, MPI’s Physical Damage Research & Training

Teen Stop executive director Pat LeBlanc, left, gets the keys for a van last Friday from MPI’s Mark Grant, manager, MPI’s Physical Damage Research & Training.

The van ─ a 2015 Dodge Caravan SXT ─ means the United Way-supported St. Vital youth drop-in centre can take that same number of kids with a single vehicle, freeing up a staff member to do other activities with youth.

LeBlanc describes Teen Stop as a “social service centre offering education, recreation, and assistance to those in need,” adding that it serves not only children and youth, but also offers educational programs for adults and parents.

“For some of the kids who didn’t succeed in regular school and were drop-in attendees, they’re coming back here because this is the place they feel comfortable at and they’re succeeding at levels that they didn’t expect.”

LeBlanc is especially proud of two brothers who didn’t graduate from the public school system – who hardly ever attended school. After time they began attending the Teen Stop education programming, and have boasted almost perfect attendance.

“One of them graduated last year from our program, and the other will graduate at the end of January. They both have aspirations of going on to university.”

Teen Stop also offers music programming, arts & crafts, life-skills, computer lab and help with homework.

Thank you, MPI, for your generosity and for caring about our community!

Great-West Life’s volunteer marathon!

About 80 Great-West Life employees show they care as part of the company’s national Day of Caring Project Drive.

Over the past two weeks purple-shirted employees from Great-West Life in Winnipeg gave their time and energy to make Winnipeg better through 10 back-to-back United Way Days of Caring.

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A United Way Day of Caring is a chance for volunteers; usually groups organized through a workplace, to help change lives in Winnipeg by helping community organizations complete short-term projects that need a little extra people power.

Caring, and smiling, at North End Women's Centre Betty Berg House.

Caring, and smiling, at North End Women’s Centre Betty Berg House.

The Days of Caring were part of a national drive by Great-West – a founding partner of United Way of Winnipeg – that saw almost 400 employees helping out with 40 projects in Winnipeg and Montreal, London, Toronto and Regina.

Jan Belanger, Vice-President of Community Relations for Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, says staff appreciate high-impact volunteer opportunities in their communities.

“Along with building relationships with United Way agencies and the people who benefit from their services, they’re also getting to know their colleagues better, outside of everyday workplace contact.”

The companies organized Days of Caring across Canada to lead off their 2015 United Way workplace fundraising campaigns, Belanger added.

It’s the 3rd year they have done the national blitz of caring, which includes a $500 donation to each agency.

In Winnipeg employees helped out at seven organizations, including several United Way agency partners.

Two separate groups of volunteers spent two days at the Betty Berg House – a house operated by the North End Women’s Centre to help women who have been experiencing homelessness transition their lives to independent living.

Prepping for painting at the Betty Berg House.

Prepping for painting at the Betty Berg House.

The Great-West crews prepared and painted six bedrooms used by women at the house, which had not seen fresh paint in about 10 years.

Making bedrooms bright again.

Making bedrooms bright again.

“It’s amazing, it helps us so much. This house really needed an uplift, and there’s no way I would have had the time to paint the bedrooms,” said house mentor Jenny Foster.

Another Day of Caring winterized a community garden in the West End that has space for growing and playing.

Cleaning up The Kids' Garden

Cleaning up The Kids’ Garden

The Kids’ Garden is maintained by Spence Neighbourhood Association and sits next to the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, where SNA runs programming for children and youth.

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Children from SNA’s Building Belonging program – an after school program that provides nutritious food, activities, and help with homework to kids aged 6 to 12 – use the garden space to play in and for growing food that they harvest and eat.

Great-West employees also helped at United Way’s Koats for Kids, Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre, Pregnancy and Family Support Services, The WestEnd Commons, and Art City. They also acted in volunteer roles for two Living on the Edge poverty simulations, which help participants gain an understanding of the challenges faced by people living in poverty.

Assembling a closet system for the Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre.

Assembling a closet system for the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre.

Getting Art City ready for a dinosaur party requires prehistoric scenery.

Getting Art City ready for a dinosaur party requires prehistoric scenery.

Keep scrolling to see photos of the Days of Caring teams!

Bringing the warmth at Koats for Kids.

Bringing the warmth at Koats for Kids.

The Koats for Kids crew helped sort and create bundles of mitts, hats, scarves and coats to keep Winnipeg children warm this winter.

The Koats for Kids crew helped sort and create bundles of mitts, hats, scarves and coats to keep Winnipeg children warm this winter.

On the job cleaning up WestEnd Commons resource centre and common areas.

On the job cleaning up WestEnd Commons resource centre and common areas.

Helpers at the Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre, where they installed a closet system and organized items.

Helpers at the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre, where they installed a closet system and organized items.

The painting preppers.

The painting preppers.

The painters.

The painters.

Living on The Edge poverty simulation, first day.

Living on The Edge poverty simulation, first day.

Living on The Edge poverty simulation, second day.

Living on The Edge poverty simulation, second day.

Great-West helpers painted two offices and a kitchen at Pregnancy & Family Support Services.

Great-West helpers painted two offices and a kitchen at Pregnancy & Family Support Services.

Toby Gillies, studio coordinator at Art City, receives a $500 cheque from Great-West volunteers (who also helped build a dinosaur habitat) to help fund their kids' art programs.

Toby Gillies, studio coordinator at Art City, receives a $500 cheque from Great-West volunteers (who also helped build a dinosaur habitat) to help fund kids’ art programs.

Thank you to all the wonderful Great-West Life employees for making Winnipeg better!

Andrea from North End Women's Centre made bannock for both shifts of volunteers at the Betty Berg House!

Andrea from North End Women’s Centre made bannock for both shifts of volunteers at the Betty Berg House!

AANDC – Delicious and generous.

Blueberry pancakes – a kickoff classic!

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) kicked off their United Way Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign on Wednesday with a delicious blueberry pancake breakfast and a great United Way speaker.

Blueberry pancakes, looking delicious, but not quite ready.

Blueberry pancakes, looking delicious, but not quite ready.

Looking delicious, and ready!

Looking delicious, and ready!

United Way’s Indigenous Relations Director, Trina Flett, shared a message of hope, respect, and resilience for all Indigenous peoples.

Trina Flett shared a message of hope, respect, and resilience.

Trina Flett speaking with the staff at AANDC.

Trina, a member of Fisher River Cree Nation, has ties to the Ojibwe and Metis communities of Manitoba.

“I was honoured that the staff took their time to visit with us, and that we got to sit and talk about the gifts found in our culture.”

ECC Brock Holowachuk, on right, guarding the food table.

ECC Brock Holowachuk, on right, guarding the food table.

AANDC’s employee campaign chair, Brock Holowachuk, highlighted some of the fun activities they have planned for their campaign, including a hockey tournament, dodge ball tournament, bannock sale and garage sale.

United Way’s Sponsored Executive helping AANDC with their campaign, Marie Tichborne, noted how the office walls are adorned with beautiful Indigenous art, and that AANDC has been a long-time generous supporter of United Way.

Oh yes, there were sausages too!

Oh yes, there were sausages too!

Thank you for your support, AANDC!

PCL celebrates 50 years!

PCL and United Way share the value of community-building—and a 50th birthday!

PCL celebrated its 50th anniversary in Winnipeg on Thursday with more than 100 friends and family in the Millennium Centre’s Celebration Hall.

The beautifully constructed hall in the 1912 building, with stone pillars, marble floors and wall panels and a soaring ceiling, was an appropriate spot for PCL’s celebration.

A PCL crane was the  centrepiece in Celebration Hall.

A PCL crane was the centrepiece in Celebration Hall.

A mini PCL crane draped in black cloth supported a disco ball, and green lighting cast PCL’s signature colour throughout.

An ice sculpture, embedded with the familiar PCL logo marking theanniversary.

An ice sculpture, embedded with the familiar PCL logo marking the anniversary.

Connie Walker, United Way’s President & CEO, took to the stage to praise PCL for its contribution to our community.

“For 50 years PCL has been helping to build a city that I, that we, love. And all of these structures are beautiful, meaningful, and central to our quality of life.”

Connie Walker, United Way President & CEO.

Connie Walker, United Way President & CEO.

Connie noted PCL and United Way have been partnered for 47 years, and that throughout North America PCL raised $7.1 million for 19 United Ways in 2014.

“This kind of corporate leadership – where it is rooted at the core values of an organization and through all levels of work, sets a high bar for those within PCL – and indeed, inspires those beyond its boundaries.”

PCL employees and guests listen to Connie speak.

PCL employees and guests listen to Connie speak.

Connie also expressed gratitude to Sean Barnes, PCL’s Vice President and District Manager of Manitoba, for his involvement on the board implementing the Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg.

“The Plan to End Homelessness challenges us to act collectively,” she said.

“It will take hard work and many years – and it will take many of us to get involved. This is community building. Thank you PCL.”

Sean Barnes returned the gratitude to Connie when he spoke.

Sean Barnes, PCL Vice President and District Manager, acknowledged and gave thanks to John Osadszuk, a 40-year PCL employee.

Sean Barnes, PCL Vice President and District Manager, acknowledged and gave thanks to John Osadszuk, a 40-year PCL employee.

“I want to thank Connie and the great folks at United Way for everything that they do in Winnipeg and for educating Winnipeggers on our needs and what we can do to contribute to our city.”

Jim Ludlow, President of True North Sports & Entertainment, also spoke, giving a hat-tip to PCL’s many construction accomplishments in Winnipeg, including the MTS Centre.

"The Wonderist" Chris Funk provided wondrous entertainment.

“The Wonderist” Chris Funk provided wondrous entertainment.

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Thank you, PCL, for all that you do to make Winnipeg better!

Pulling for love.

MTA hosts another successful United Way Truck Pull.

MTA's Laura La Palme briefs team captains before Friday's truck pull.

MTA’s Laura La Palme briefs team captains before Friday’s truck pull.

The 6th annual Manitoba Trucking Assocation (MTA) United Way Truck Pull broke new ground on Friday at the Polo Park Shopping Centre parking lot.

“Fourteen teams is the most we’ve ever had in six years, we’re getting bigger and better,” said MTA’s Laura La Palme, who organizes the pull each year.

Laura La Palme, who does marketing and business development at MTA, organizes the annual truck pull with a smile.

Laura La Palme, who does marketing and business development at MTA, organizes the annual truck pull with a smile.

“And if you look at the scores you can see that, even though there can be only one first, second and third place, they’re very tight. Everyone did really well.”

Each 10-member team competed in pulling a bobtail 100 feet.

Cummins Western Canada took top spot. Photo by Derek Albo.

Cummins Western Canada took top spot. Photo by Derek Albo.

Cummins Western Canada clocked a time of 12.42 seconds to take down top honours.

The Champs, by 2/100s of a second!

The Champs, by 2/100s of a second!

To say that Big Freight Systems (12.44 seconds) and Bison Transport (12.45) followed closely behind for second and third place is a bit of an understatement.

Big Freight Systems putting their back into it.

Big Freight Systems putting their back into it.

 

The Big Freight Systems team took second in the pull, but gets first for picture posing.

The Big Freight Systems team took second in the pull, and first place for picture posing.

 

Bison Transport took down third, just 3/100s of a second out of first place.

Bison Transport took down third, just 3/100s of a second out of first place.

About a dozen United Way Sponsored Executives were on hand to cheer and perform some volunteer tasks and try their hand at pulling the truck.

United Way Sponsored Executives tried their hand in the pull.

United Way Sponsored Executives, always pulling for a better Winnipeg!

 

Sponsored Executive Derek Resch, sporting his "I Love Trucking" button.

Sponsored Executive Derek Resch, sporting his “I Love Trucking” button.

Kelvin Shepherd, United Way’s 2015 Campaign Chair, accepted a cheque from MTA executive director Terry Shaw for $7,000.

MTA executive director Terry Shaw presents a giant cheque to United Way 2015 Campaign Chair Kelvin Shepherd.

MTA executive director Terry Shaw, left, presents a giant cheque to United Way 2015 Campaign Chair Kelvin Shepherd after the pull.

 

Laura said the event is open to the general public and non-trucking related organizations.

“I’d love to see this thing grow to 20 teams next year.”

She also gave thanks to all the generous sponsors for the pull, who allow the MTA to pass on 100% of team entry fees to United Way.

Freightliner Manitoba provided truck and driver, Polo Park Shopping Centre provided lot space, Bison Transport brought their United Way trailer backdrop, Guardian Traffic Services provided pylons to create a safe space for the pull, and Smart EMS was onsite as a (thankfully unnecessary) precaution.

A huge thank you to all the teams,  sponsors, and the MTA! See you next year!

Finding balance.