Frequently Asked Questions

What is Making Changes Association?

Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta, also known as Making Changes Association, is a vibrant organization that provides relevant programs, services and resources to empower women in transition. Our goal is to help women build confidence and skills so that they can participate more fully in the community. Making Changes Association assists over 2000 women and teenage girls each year to build a better future for themselves and their families.

 

We proudly fulfill our mission of empowering women in transition by providing:

  • Focused programs for women in transition to enable them to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient
  • Valuable pre-employment training for immigrant women
  • No-cost new and gently used business clothing for unemployed and underemployed women with financial barriers.
  • Fashionable and functional clothing for teenage girls to meet their school and recreational needs

Making Changes Association was incorporated as a not for profit society in 1996, however, a rich history of programs aimed at women in transition dates back as far as 1981. Our strength lies in our rootedness in community and in building collaborative partnerships that create a more inclusive range of opportunities for women in transition.

Our achievements are directly related to committed and talented volunteers and staff members, donors and community partners. In developing new ways to deepen the impact of our services, we also seek ways to identify and address the emerging needs of women in transition and collaborate with other stakeholders to address those needs.

What are the Vision, Mission and Core Values of Making Changes?

Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta, also known as Making Changes Association, is a vibrant organization that provides relevant programs, services and resources to empower women in transition. Our goal is to help women build confidence and skills so that they can participate more fully in the community. Making Changes Association assists over 2000 women and teenage girls each year to build a better future for themselves and their families.

 

We proudly fulfill our mission of empowering women in transition by providing:

  • Focused programs for women in transition to enable them to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient
  • Valuable pre-employment training for immigrant women
  • No-cost new and gently used business clothing for unemployed and underemployed women with financial barriers.
  • Fashionable and functional clothing for teenage girls to meet their school and recreational needs

Making Changes Association was incorporated as a not for profit society in 1996, however, a rich history of programs aimed at women in transition dates back as far as 1981. Our strength lies in our rootedness in community and in building collaborative partnerships that create a more inclusive range of opportunities for women in transition.

Our achievements are directly related to committed and talented volunteers and staff members, donors and community partners. In developing new ways to deepen the impact of our services, we also seek ways to identify and address the emerging needs of women in transition and collaborate with other stakeholders to address those needs.

What is the Employment & Life Skills (ELS) program?

The Employment and Life Skills Program is Making Changes Association’s foundational program.

Our ELS program offers a series of workshops that help immigrant women plan and prepare for their future in Canada. The curriculum is well-founded in career development and job search content and is uniquely presented to immigrant women utilizing adult learning principles. The training we provide focuses on life skills, career planning, communication, Canadian business culture and accessing of community resources. In 2015-2016, 117 women accessed much needed assistance to learn about and engage with their new culture.

Our ELS program is open to all immigrant women who wish to plan and prepare for their future in Canada, free of charge. We offer free childcare for participants for children 6 months to 6 years old. Participants must commit to one day per week for seven weeks or two haft days a week for seven weeks. It is recommended that you have a minimum Canadian language benchmark of 3 – 4 in order to benefit from the program.

Outcomes for 2015-2016 showed:

  • 95 % of participants feel a lot more confident than when they started the program
  • 99 % of participants are very satisfied with the program
  • 91 % of participants increased their knowledge of job search skills
  • 90 % of participants know more about Canadian work culture
What is the Walk-In Closet (WIC)?

The Walk-In Closet is one of Making Changes Association’s programs. WIC provides 90-minute individual consultations on professional business attire, to women facing financial barriers who want to join the work force, return to school or engage in volunteer opportunities. In addition to information on business culture and appropriate dress, participants are offered gently used clothing and accessories, at no cost, to help them look and feel their best.

Our participants are women from very diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. While many are Canadian citizens, others are newly landed or established immigrants looking to build a better life for themselves and their families here in Canada. All our participants have two things in common – they are financially challenged and they need appropriate business attire for interviews, new jobs, school or volunteer work. Our participants are referred by community-serving agencies, pre-employment training programs or post-secondary institutions in Calgary and surrounding areas. They may also self-refer if they meet our criteria.

In 2015-2016, 1,618 women facing financial barriers accessed our service.  Participants are welcome to return to the Walk-In Closet for a second visit to build up their wardrobes. Our participants are often pleasantly surprised at the quality and the quantity of clothing and accessories we have available for them.

What each participant is entitled to receive:

  • 3 to 4 outfits (2 pieces, plus a blouse, shirt or sweater)
  • 1 seasonal coat (in the winter includes scarf, gloves and hat)
  • 2 pairs of shoes (in the winter includes one pair of boots and one pair of shoes)
  • 1 handbag
  • 2 pairs of pantyhose, depending on supply
  • 2 bras, 2 underwear
  • A selection of cosmetics
  • 2 or 3 pieces of jewellery
  • 1 or 2 belts

Outcomes for 2016-2016 showed that following their appointment at the Walk-In Closet:

  • 98% of participants reported having appropriate clothing for interviews and work
  • 96% of participants reported an increase in motivation to look for employment
  • 97% of participants reported having gained knowledge regarding Canadian business culture
What is My Best Friend’s Closet (MBFC)?

My Best Friend’s Closet is Making Changes Association’s youth program, and the most recent addition to the Making Changes family of services and resources. Closet. It opened its doors in August of 2012. The program provides teenaged girls from low-income households with clothing and accessories to meet their school and recreational needs– all at no cost to their families.

Girls aged 12 to 18, who are referred to the program by local community-serving agencies and schools, can come to MBFC for a 90-minute “shopping spree” to select a year’s worth of clothing and accessories in current styles. Each of our young participants is paired with a friendly volunteer image consultant who assists them in choosing clothes and accessories in a fun, retail-style space. The girls are able to select everything they need, from a warm winter coat, to skinny jeans, hoodies, athletic apparel, and undergarments. A great selection of bags, jewelry, and toiletries is also offered.

Below is a general overview of what each participant is able to receive:

  • 4 – 5 bottoms (jeans, leggings, skirts, shorts)
  • 12 – 15 mix and match tops (tank tops, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies)
  • 2 pairs of flats or casual shoes
  • 1 pair of winter boots
  • 1 warm and fashionable winter coat, plus winter accessories
  • 1 pair of lace up running shoes, plus gym strip
  • selection of new undergarments (bras, underwear, socks)
  • various accessories (jewellery, belts, scarves, purses, backpacks)
  • selection of toiletries and cosmetics

In 2015-2016, MBFC served 528 teenaged girls. The feedback from the young women has been overwhelmingly positive, with survey results from 5 participants showing that:

  • 98% agreed or strongly agreed that they had the clothing and accessories to dress/groom themselves appropriately for school
  • 92% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more confident about getting dressed/ready for school
  • 98% agreed or strongly agreed that their Volunteer Stylist was very helpful during their appointment
  • 98% agreed or strongly agreed that they were happy with the overall service they received at My Best Friend’s Closet.

 

Where do Making Changes’ current funds come from?

The Making Changes operational budget for 2015-2016 totals just over $575,000. Approximately 23% of our funds are secured through individual donors, fund-raising events and other initiatives. The remainder is provided by our generous funders:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (39%)
  • Alberta Gaming – Casino/Bingo (13%)
  • United Way of Calgary and Area (9%)
  • ARC Resources (6%)
  • Community Initiative Program (SIP) (4%)
  • Other funders (6%)

 

Our fundraising goal for the fiscal year 2015-2016 is $72,500. This goal will be met with the support of various community partners including the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon (May, 2015), Fashion Forward YYC (June, 2015) and our signature event in partnership with École Holt Couture (November, 2015). We are estimating our fundraising costs will be a modest 16%.