June 1, 2015

SPE Gives Energy to St. Stephen School

SPE members make lunches in the boardroom.

Once a year, the Calgary chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, a worldwide member organization for energy-sector professionals, donates time to a local charity.

Alex Brown, Society of Petroleum Engineers (or SPE) Events Specialist, describes this volunteer endeavor as a give-back initiative from one nonprofit organization to another. Brown’s colleague Rudeen Hoffman, Senior Events Coordinator, had volunteered for BB4CK in the past and believes in the work of the organization. Hoffman reached out to Jill Birch from BB4CK, who referred her to Michelle Couture, Diversity Learning Teacher at St. Stephen School.

Brown says the experience was thoroughly positive. “We had guidelines to follow from BB4CK on allergies, cross contamination and hand washing. We made lunches with our staff of about 13 in our conference room, over two days, and Rudeen and a few helpers delivered them to St. Stephen School.”
Couture says her school typically sees lunch needs increase just after Christmas and toward the end of each month, as families anticipate their next paycheque. St. Stephen welcomes students from a vast demographic range, some of whom have limited means or whose families who are new to the country.

According to Couture, there are days when 20 children might come to school without the necessities. While Couture often purchases groceries with funding from BB4CK and provides lunches herself, she says it’s great when other organizations get involved. She observes a major difference in her students after a nutritious meal. “When they’re hungry or tired they’re not ready to work,” Couture says. She adds that St. Stephen is lucky to have the support of BB4CK and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. “For our students, knowing they can get lunch at school lessens their burden. They don’t have to feel bad about asking for it.”

Brown and her colleagues are looking forward to the opportunity to repeat the experience. “It was a good time for all of us,” Brown says. “We’ve already talked about doing it again because we enjoyed it so much. It got all of us out of our work bubbles.”

Find out how your corporate group can get involved with BB4CK.

June 1, 2015

How Lisa Tuplin’s community group is managing changing needs

Left to right: Monica Smith, Lana Blackburn and Lisa Tuplin

One of BB4CK’s original community group founders, Lisa Tuplin has been making lunches for students in Calgary’s northwest for eight years.

Recently, her group has seen increased need for lunches at one of the four schools it serves, and so far the group has been able to manage that need. The main thing, says Tuplin, is knowing what her group can and can’t handle.
“Usually it’s just a matter of buying a bit more food and sending the new numbers to the volunteers, and then it takes a little more volunteer time,” Tuplin says. The group stores supplies and makes lunches in the commercial kitchen of the Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands. Tuplin says the kitchen is excellent, but because it’s used by several other community groups, she has to be realistic about her group’s capacity. “It’s a busy kitchen,” Tuplin says.
A few years earlier, one of the schools Tuplin’s group served experienced a sudden spike in need — more than the group could manage. “When Terrace Road School was needing a lot more, we had to assess whether we could handle those numbers. We had limited space,” Tuplin says. Realizing her group couldn’t meet that school’s needs on its own, Tuplin worked with BB4CK to find an alternative solution. Today, Terrace Road School lunches are made by youth volunteers at Varsity Bible Church , students at William Taylor Learning Centre and the BB4CK kitchen.

The group’s origins
Tuplin’s started the group in 2007, when she became aware of the organization’s needs. “As a parent myself it tugged at my heartstrings to see a child hungry who I could help so easily,” Tuplin says.
At the time, BB4CK was exploring ways to serve schools in the city’s northwest communities better. Using a small kitchen at the Friends Church facility in Bowness, Tuplin gathered a group of volunteers and began making lunches for three schools, three days a week. The group has continued, with volunteers old and new, and Tuplin has been its manager and champion from the start. “For the impact that it’s making, it’s not a lot of work,” Tuplin says. “I’ve been doing it for so long it’s second nature, and I’ll continue doing it for as long as there’s a need and a space to do it in and volunteers to help me.”
Tuplin’s idea took hold in Calgary — today, there are approximately 20 community groups similar to Tuplin’s and another 80 school community groups making lunches for students through BB4CK.

Tuplin’s group today
The group serves four schools four days a week: Belvedere Parkway School, Bowcroft School, Our Lady of the Assumption School and H.D. Cartwright Junior High School. Three years ago the group relocated from its original Bowness kitchen to a larger, more commercial facility at Westview Baptist Church in Ranchlands.
While the group purchases groceries using BB4CK gift cards, the administration, lunch-making and distribution is organized by Tuplin and her rotating team of about 18 volunteers, which sometimes includes her own three grown children. “They’ve been really great in that way,” Tuplin says. “My daughter has just graduated as a teacher, and she’s started subbing so she’ll be in the school system and she’ll see those same needs.”
Despite the challenges, Tuplin says whenever a school contacts her to let her know their students’ needs have changed, she sees it as a positive development. “It shows me that they’re really responding and I have a good handle on what’s happening in their schools,” Tuplin says. “It tells me it’s really working.”

Find out more about BB4CK community groups.

April 15, 2015

Happy National Volunteer Week!

At BB4CK, we love volunteers. They make our work possible, and in our opinion, every week of the year should be devoted to celebrating their efforts. Volunteer and administration coordinator Wendy Treschel says BB4CK is able to have a huge impact in Calgary because of volunteers.

“Many come to the program because they wouldn’t want their own children to go hungry, or because they remember what it felt like to be a hungry child. Our volunteers are so committed that even if they are unable to help during the day, they help with office work, social media, casinos and various other jobs. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Happy National Volunteer Week! Here’s a tribute to the work of BB4CK volunteers.

Video produced by Urban Revolver

Want to find out why BB4CK volunteers are so passionate about the work they do? Find out how you can get involved.

April 15, 2015

2015 Matching Gift Challenge

Video produced by Shannon Hewlko

Tanya Koshowski, executive director of BB4CK, says the Prosser Charitable Foundation catalyzed the Matching Gift Challenge years ago, and has been helping BB4CK meet its goal of ensuring there are no hungry kids in Calgary. “The Matching Gift Challenge doubles your donation, which is amazing — but it’s about far more than numbers. It’s about giving children in Calgary the opportunity to learn, grow and play with confidence and energy. That’s the impact a lunch can have.”

The Matching Gift Challenge runs from May 1 to June 15, 2015. Make your donation at the BB4CK Canada Helps page.


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