Submitted. If you knew that one small act of kindness could restore someone’s faith in humankind, would you do it?
There are many youth in our community who struggle to find their way and facing the holidays when they’re feeling vulnerable or forgotten can sometimes feel like the last straw.
Photo: L to R Simone Maasen, Manager of Youth Services, Abbotsford Community Services; Elise Goertz, Youth Worker, Abbotsford Community Services; Brenda Monk, Regional Director, Prospera Credit Union; Courtenay Unger, Senior Service Associate, Prospera Credit Union.
Beginning today, all three Prospera Credit Union branches in Abbotsford will be inviting staff and members to choose an ornament from their angel tree. Each ornament contains the name of a youth and their Christmas wish. In many cases, what youth are asking for is not what you’d expect. Many ask for a grocery card or work clothes to help them get their first real job.
“Some of these youth have been through a lot,” said Simone Maassen, Manager of Youth Services for Abbotsford Community Services. “Some of them don’t even have a place to call home or family to share the holidays with so it can be a very stressful and lonely time of year.”
Letting youth know they are not alone, that there are people in the community who care, is the inspiration behind the Youth Angel Tree Project, which is a partnership between Prospera Credit Union and Abbotsford Community Services that has been running since 2012.
With the names of more than 100 youth provided by Abbotsford Community Services, credit union staff have set up Angel Trees in all three of Prospera’s branches. “Angels” who choose a name from the tree are asked to bring the unwrapped gifts back to the branch by December 9 to ensure that all of the gifts are wrapped and delivered before the holidays.
“Last year I was genuinely touched to hear about a very troubled young woman who had completely given up on trusting any adult, including the youth worker who was desperately trying to reach her,” said Shawn Good, President and CEO of Prospera Credit Union. “When she received an Angel Tree gift from a complete stranger it was an absolute shock. ‘Why would someone who doesn’t even know me care?’ she asked. Receiving that gift was a turning point and I’m happy to say during the past year not only has this young woman bonded with her youth worker, she is working hard to turn her life around.”
We always say it takes a village to raise our children yet we don’t always know what that means; experiencing the generosity of complete strangers restores a sense of community in youth and gives them hope.
“We’re very excited to be running the Youth Angel Tree Project and with 100 youth, we’re definitely going to need a lot of angels to help us out,” said Brenda Monk, Prospera’s Fraser Valley Regional Director. “We invite everyone to stop by and pick a name.”
To support the Youth Angel Tree Project, please visit one of the following Prospera branches:
Abbotsford Branch – 34630 DeLair Road
West Oaks Branch – 32700 South Fraser Way
Clearbrook Branch – 32071 South Fraser Way
About Prospera Credit Union
Building on more than 70 years as a BC credit union, Prospera is proud to serve communities from Vancouver to Kelowna. As a member-owned financial institution, our number one priority is the financial well-being of families and businesses in our local communities and our dedicated team is here to serve all of their banking, lending, investing and insurance needs through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking and a locally-based contact centre. As a member of The Exchange network, our members also enjoy access to more than 4,000 surcharge free ATMs across Canada (that’s right, no ATM fees).
Making life better for everyone is important at Prospera, which has an extensive community investment program devoted to supporting the organizations, events and volunteers that make our BC communities stronger. To learn more, check out Prospera’s Facebook page or visit www.dontjustbankprosper.ca.