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 Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum, Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and profiles active Non-profit and business organizations. If you would like to be featured in this section please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Create your own member story: join GPVSB today! 

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Voice for Life

Educating with a Message

By Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

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Jillian Baldwin, Community Educator

Grande Prairie Voice for Life is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the community this year. Jillian Baldwin is the current Community Educator and Office Manager for this local non-profit. One may not think that Voice for Life promotes a diverse array of educational material, but in fact they present knowledge on a wide range of topics from healthy living to fetology.

“Our goal is to foster respect for human life at all stages of development,” stated Baldwin. This spans from the moment of conception up until adult-hood. Starting at the beginning, Voice for Life supplies presentations to schools, churches and individuals on fetology and prenatal development.  They educate children as young as grade one about this stage, providing baby models and pictures for observation and interaction. For grade four children, Voice for Life presents a talk on physical and mental health, including exercise, sleep, hygiene and more. Education continues grade-by-grade until the end of high school, covering not only fetal development but also topics pertinent to the stage of life teenagers are experiencing.  “We talk about abstinence and puberty… and all of our presentations are in accordance with the Alberta Health Curriculum,” Baldwin said. They also cover relationships, self-esteem, handling depression, and more.  “[We also appreciate] the beauty in the role that elders play, sharing their life experiences with us,” Baldwin concluded. Voice for Life truly supports education and making healthy choices during all stages of life.

Voice for Life reaches this wide age range in a variety of geographical locations as well. They serve Grande Prairie, Peace River, Grimshaw, Manning, Spirit River and more. Additionally, they are looking to expand their reach to conferences as far as Red Deer.

It’s only by the constant support of the community and volunteers that Voice for Life has been a part of the community for 30 years. Its governing Board of Directors is all volunteer-based, and volunteers help run fundraising events. “These are people who believe in what’s going on. Voice for Life is run on the generosity of volunteers [and] their willingness to serve the community this way,” Baldwin stated.  “And there’s definitely an appreciation and recognition we give [volunteers].” Corporate sponsors are also recognized by Voice for Life.

Voice for Life leaves a positive impact on those who attend their presentations. “Last year we reached more than 3700 students in schools alone,” said Baldwin.  “Michelle, the previous educator, often had kids come up to her saying ‘I learned so much when you shared!’.”  This is exactly the desired outcome: Voice for Life’s goal is not to change anyone’s mind, but to educate individuals to make healthy decisions, Baldwin explained. “We care about the individual. Though we reach multitudes, if we can [help] one person to make an educated decision for themselves . . . that’s our greatest hope.”  The respect Voice for Life has for the individual’s own sound judgement is evident in their mission mindset. That respect is returned by the communities, families, and individuals who request Voice for Life presentations. “We’re just really grateful that [the community and parents] are trusting us to let us speak into their kids’ lives,” Baldwin said.   Voice for Life’s services are also totally free, which is another reason why volunteers are integral to their operations.

Upcoming events for which Voice for Life is seeking help includes their upcoming 30th anniversary fundraiser banquet and silent auction, held at the Pomeroy Hotel April 21st at 6pm.  There’s no clearance required to help out with Voice for Life’s fundraising events, so if your availability is limited, these opportunities might be for you!

In summary, Voice for Life’s mission of education is so effective because it is based on respect for human life at all stages of development. As their message spreads, our community can benefit and grow. To get involved with supporting Voice for Life’s mission, contact them at 780-538-3344, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit their website at www.gpvoiceforlife.ca for more information.

 

 

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Centre for Newcomers

Supporting our Community’s Newcomers

By Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

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Donat Mpunga, Program Manager

The Grande Prairie Centre for Newcomers is located on the fifth floor of the Nordic Court building in downtown Grande Prairie. It’s non-profit organization whose primary goal is to assist newcomers to settle in Grande Prairie and surrounding areas and access the resources they need, explained Donat Mpunga, the Centre’s Program Manager.

New immigrants to Grande Prairie come from all over the world. The Centre also assists second migrants who come from other Canadian provinces who may be looking for employment opportunities or joining spouses in Grande Prairie.

“When newcomers [arrive] here, most of them don’t know anybody,” Mpunga said. “We help them connect to people and community resources.” The Centre provides free assistance to immigrants in areas such as information and orientation, referrals, and supportive counseling. They work with their partners to help newcomers find employment, housing, school for themselves and children, English language instruction, and more. The Centre has also created a job board with open job postings for newcomers who visit them on-site.

“Mostly we see people come in because they need to find a job, but there is much more to do,” Mpunga stated. The Centre for Newcomers also supports immigrants in other aspects of their life in the new community. From ESL to health care, obtaining a driver’s license, further into grocery shopping and local entertainment, the needs of newcomers are extensively varied, and the Centre is prepared to respond to any request. “We do a thorough need assessment to see what their current needs are,” Mpunga explained. “If they need medical attention, we will see which doctor is taking patients. If they don’t know how to get their auto or home owner’s insurance, we help them find insurance companies. We connect them to community members. We also offer interpretation and translation services,” Mpunga said in summary.

The Centre will even connect families with support and counselling if needed. It’s all to help newcomers go through what Mpunga aptly called a “transformation”. The end goal is to help newcomers establish themselves and become self-sufficient so that they have the resources needed to become a contributing member of their new community.

“You don’t learn a new language or adapt to a new culture in one week,” Mpunga said with a smile. The Centre hopes that newcomers get on their feet quickly, but are more than willing to provide continued assistance if a client requires extended support.

The Centre for Newcomers also has a preventative mindset. “We need to see newcomers not when they have problems, but when they [first arrive], so they can be educated on how to avoid mistakes,” Mpunga explained. The Centre wants to prepare clients to make informed decisions and learn how to deal with potential problems before they occur. No matter what way the Centre is assisting newcomers, their efforts are definitely appreciated. “Every service we provide has an impact on somebody’s life,” stated Mpunga.

In the coming days, the Centre is looking at setting up the Settlement Support in School program. Already, the proposal has received positive feedback from school officials. This program would connect teachers, students, and parents with each other by allowing the Centre for Newcomers to go on-campus and meet immigrant children.

As the Centre for Newcomers is a non-profit organization, they do have limited resources. “Volunteers can help bridge the gap,” Mpunga stated. People who give their time to the Centre pave the way for the services the Centre provides to help newcomers settle in their new communities. Mpunga explained that volunteers can help with any activity as long as they have the necessary skills. Opportunities include reception, event planning, and client services such as gathering information, touring Grande Prairie with newcomers, conducting home visits and filling out the copious amount of paperwork that comes with immigration. Whether you love to meet new people and form relationships, or work behind the scenes, there’s an opportunity for you.

“Come to the centre and fill out the application,” Mpunga invites those who are interested in volunteering. “We need volunteers. The more we have, the better.” Grande Prairie is known for being a transient community, but the dedication of agencies such as the Centre for Newcomers encourages immigrants to stay where they have support. Eventually, newcomers become fully functional and integrated community members who give more than they receive. By supporting the Centre’s efforts, you support the community of Grande Prairie at large: visit the Centre on the fifth floor of the Nordic Court building to get involved.

 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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