‘It’s all about dignity’

Canadian Footwear helps people put a good foot forward at John Howard Society

The John Howard Society (JHS) hosted a grand opening reception for their new We Fit You Closet last week, and the reviews are in.

Canadian Footwear co-owner Brian Scharfstein cuts the ribbon on the new We Fit You Closet.

Canadian Footwear co-owner Brian Scharfstein cuts the ribbon on the new We Fit You Closet with help from Tania Weibe, coordinator of reintegration at JHS

“I’m thrilled. The guys feel like they’re shopping,” said Charlie Medd, who volunteers with clients visiting the closet to get much-needed clothes and shoes to help them step back into life feeling good about themselves.

The new closet is spacious and has natural light, while the old space was dark, cramped and located inconveniently at the back of the JHS building.

The old space.

The old space.

The new We Fit You Closet.

The new We Fit You Closet.

Canadian Footwear co-owner Brian Scharfstein designed and provided paint and shelving for the clothing closet.

JHS executive director John Hutton expresses his gratitude and presents a gift to Brian Scharfstein at the opening reception.

JHS executive director John Hutton expresses his gratitude and presents a gift to Brian Scharfstein at the opening reception.

“He’s been a big supporter of the clothing closet for years,” said John Hutton, executive director of JHS, adding that Canadian Footwear provides new and donated shoes that are cleaned and fixed with new laces and insoles.

A rack of shoes in the new closet.

A rack of shoes in the new closet.

The John Howard Society, a United Way agency partner, works with men who have been involved in the criminal justice system to help them re-integrate into society.

Brian said his goal in helping design and build the new clothing closet was to return self-esteem to people starting over.

“We wanted to make it feel like a boutique – make people feel good. It’s all about dignity,” he said.

“People who require a second chance is something we support.”

The John Howard Society is always looking for donations of gently-used clothing for men, including jeans, sweaters, and work boots. If you would like to organize a United Way Collection Drive for the We Fit You Closet at your workplace, please contact doc@unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca or call 204-477-5360.

Closet volunteer Charlie Medd was all smiles!

Closet volunteer Charlie Medd was all smiles!

2011 Youth Day of Caring sees over 120 volunteers working towards a better Winnipeg.

More than 120 students from 13 local high schools showed their commitment and community pride by participating in United Way of Winnipeg’s 6th annual Youth Day of Caring on Friday, May 20, 2011.

Working alongside staff and volunteers from 6 neighbourhood agencies, students spent the day picking up litter, painting, gardening, cleaning and organizing – whatever they could to support non-profit organizations that support Winnipeggers.

Youth Day of Caring volunteers making the community a better place for everyone.

The day began at 8:30 am with a Welcome Breakfast at Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, followed by a group warm-up led by Yoga North‘s Drew Perry. Students then went to work at non-profit agencies in the neighbourhood including: Broadway Neighbourhood Centre, West Broadway Youth Outreach, West Broadway Development Corp., West Broadway Biz, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the John Howard Society.

Volunteers were entertained by the amazing talent of Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s Hip Hop Academy while they enjoyed a delicious pizza lunch courtesy of Santa Lucia. At the end of the day, after completing a few more projects, everyone returned to Broadway Neighbourhood Centre for an apple toss prize give-away hosted by HOT 103 morning personality LTI.

Every year, hundreds of youth throughout Winnipeg make significant contributions to our community through United Way. As volunteers, participants and leaders, their energy and enthusiasm is shaping a brighter future for everyone as they set an example for all to follow. Thank you!

A special thank you to sponsors: Santa Lucia Pizza, High Road Commercial Cleaning Inc, and Yoga North for your support in making the Youth Day of Caring a huge success!