H.E.R. PREGNANCY PROGRAM - FIRST ANNUAL DIAPER DRIVE

Boyle Street Community Services

PLUS our first annual diaper drive!

Back in August 2016 we dropped off some dessert pizzas (the Peach Pie) to the Edmonton Community Foundation where an event was being held by the ladies of Apricity to raise awareness and funds for the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program but also to CELEBRATE it. We learned more about the program here and knew it was one that we wanted to support through LOVEPIZZA Gives . That event was another reminder of how amazing Edmonton is and how thankful WE are to own a business in this community. I was introduced the the H.E.R Pregnancy Program by Sarah Chan, known around these parts as the "first lady of Edmonton" - the passion this lady has for the city and those in need are contagious. She is a gift to this city and is always getting involved in any way she can to make this place we all call home even better. 

photo by FM PHOTOSTUDIOS

photo by FM PHOTOSTUDIOS


photo by FM PHOTOSTUDIOS

photo by FM PHOTOSTUDIOS


This LOVEPIZZA Gives week is one that hit my heart pretty hard.

When I found out I was pregnant with our son, my doctor started asking all of the routine questions. The one that will always stick with me was “do you have support”? Without even thinking for a second I said “Yes, amazing support” which I am so grateful for.  And that really made me think about all of the women out there who have no one to guide, support or love them during pregnancy and post-partum.

When the H.E.R. program was really first layed out to me it came from a fellow mom – Sarah.. We swapped stories, had some good laughs – and then got down to what the H.E.R. pregnancy program was really about. Both of us were in tears within a minute or two. Sarah told me that many of these women have never seen a doctor until they actually went into labour, have no home and have no means to diaper or clothe their new baby. Many of these women are in a cycle living on the streets that they just can’t get out of. So they find themselves back on the streets right after the birth and in the same position again and again.

No woman should have to go through this once. Let alone multiple times.

Sarah also shared with me success stories from the program that perhaps made me cry even more. For example, one young woman who was in an abusive relationship and using meth. When she found out she was pregnant, she quit everything. She is now an employee of H.E.R. helping others get healthy for themselves and for their babies.

Sarah said to me “it’s not a sexy charity” – and it’s not. But it’s so important and it needs to be shared.

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We made 1637 pizzas during that week so we donated $1640 to the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program. We also trekked through the mud in front of Boyle Street to drop off all of the diaper donations from the week - 35 boxes! Thanks to Amor from Apricity for helping us out and introducing us to the amazing women involved in the HER Program. Seeing that wall of beautiful moms and babies that the HER Pregnancy Program has helped really hit home.

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And as a side note: the happiness and appreciation within Boyle Street is infectious. Those receiving services there are just happy to be breathing, eating and socializing. Makes you check your own issues at the door and REALLY appreciate the little things.

Dropping off all of the diapers at Boyle Street Services.

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MS SOCIETY

supporting Patrycia

May 29 - June 5 2016

What can we say about Patrycia. She is EVERYONE's cheerleader. She is the first to jump to volunteer, to show up to your events and be your loudest cheerleader. She has the warmest smile, the best hugs and the biggest heart - and she has MS. AND she loves our Holy Shiitake! Prior to the MS Bike tour in 2016 we hosted a LOVEPIZZA Gives week to raise money for her team, since then we've also chowed down on all of the Teen Burgers we could possibly eat when they do the MS Society fundraiser with A&W. 

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Diagnosed with MS in 2012, Patrycia is the tireless spokesperson and voice for the MS Society and is a constant resource and pillar of support for those who have been suffering from MS for years or those who have been recently diagnosed. The pizza count for this LOVEPIZZA Gives week was 1979! So we rounded up and donated $2,000 to Patrycia's team and the MS Society.

Our customers support us and we support our customers!

WE ALL BELIEVE IN YOU

supporting Blake Loates & the Canadian Mental Health Association

May 2-8 2016

The kick off to our LOVEPIZZA Gives program was with a very regular customer of ours, Blake Loates. She is a professional photographer in Edmonton, a mental health advocate and a big pizza fan. Blake was working on a project called We All Believe in You to bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. Blake held an evening at our beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta with 50 stories and 50 gorgeous portraits of Edmontonians who were willing to share their stories, battles and messages of hope. That evening made you want to think, cry and most of all LISTEN. You know that feeling when you're standing in a room filled with inspiring people and you get a couple rounds of goosebumps? That was us when we were listening to Blake share her story.

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We All Believe in You event at the AGA

When I first met Blake Loates a few weeks prior to her big event, she gave me a hug. A big one. She meant it. That was when Gavin and I decided to kick off our LOVEPIZZA Gives program with her We All Believe in You initiative. Over the past year or so I’ve come to know a lot more about Blake and what she stands for. We’ve laughed together, cried together and we've made her a few pizzas too. When she said she was looking for volunteers a few weeks ago for a Canadian Mental Health Association project for Suicide Prevention Week, it was something that both Gavin and myself knew we needed to be a part of. When Blake asked me to write a note of hope for my photo – I wrote this

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photo by Blake Loates

And now I’ll tell you why.

In November 2009 my family was forever changed. We very quickly lost a piece of our puzzle. You never think it can happen to “your family” – but it did. I think about my uncle every day. He had the warmest smile and a raspy warmth in his voice that I now hear in his two boys, my cousins. We miss him every day. Did this change the way I look at mental health and suicide – yes.

These are the words I wish I could have said to him. These are the words I have said or typed to Blake so many times. These are the words I can only hope will help someone today or next week or next year. You are a gift and these words are for you.

I am so proud of Blake. She has given this cause a voice, a face and her heart.

This first LOVEPIZZA Gives week was a particularly important one. It made us want to do more, to share more and get people to think about the world that surrounds them. Sharing our stories and what makes our hearts beat is the first step to that.

Our first week of LOVEPIZZA Gives was really bittersweet. Our neighbours to the north in Fort McMurray, Alberta were experiencing a devastating forest fire that destroyed much of their city. We wanted to do what we could to help so we opened our little restaurant and our hearts to the fine folks of that hardworking city. Over the span of about a week we have provided just over $1000 of complimentary meals to individuals and families who have been displaced by the fires. We were really touched by each one of their stories and how appreciative they were to have a few moments of normalcy eating our pizza in a calm environment. 


Our debut week of LOVEPIZZA Gives was to focus on We All Believe in You, a very special movement to bring awareness to mental health issues. $1 from every pizza we served during that week was donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association. This is an organization that has always been an important one. With the events that happened in our province we believe that the CMHA is even more critical. Mental illness takes on MANY forms - from depression to anxiety disorders to grieving and post-traumatic stress disorder. During this very stressful time for many Albertans we really believe that mental health is a crucial piece of this puzzle. We are happy to report that close to 1,800 pizzas were served out of our little restaurant during that week in May. $1,800 will be donated from LOVEPIZZA to (as the CMHA puts it) "facilitate access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness."

And we think that's pretty important.