Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta

We are a community of women helping women through life transition by providing them with skills and resources to support their pursuit of meaningful work and educational opportunities. We help women build confidence and skills so that they can participate more fully in the community. We assist over 2000 women and teenage girls each year to build a better future for themselves and their families.

Happy Participant SmilingOur Story Why We Exist

"I can’t wait to do more and more in my future and I believe that Making Changes has made my future ten times easier.  I have transformed into this strong, independent, and powerful young lady I have always dreamt of being; and I must say, going through with my session and opening up to the people at Making Changes has helped with that so much. Thank-you Making Changes for everything you have done for me, this organization truly changes lives."   – teen participant and now volunteer at My Best friend’s Closet

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
  • Fashionable and functional clothing for teenage girls to meet their school and recreational needs
  • No-cost new and gently used business clothing for unemployed and underemployed women with financial barriers

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.

BRIEF HISTORY:

  • 1981 - 82: The first Making Changes Program is offered. In 1982, graduates of the Making Changes Program form the Calgary Immigrant Women Centre.
  • 1994 - 96: The Making Changes Program forms a partnership with Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association and Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta is incorporated as a not-for-profit society.
  • 1997 - 00: The Walk-In Closet Program is started with space provided at Connaught School; in 2000, the Walk-In Closet merges with Suited for the Job, a project of the Junior League of Calgary and moves to 7th Avenue location.
  • 2002 - 04: The Association receives registered charitable status and in 2004, the 50th Making Changes Program is offered. Later in 2004, the Walk-In Closet wins the DDRC 2004 Community Spirit Award
  • 2005 - 08: The Association wins the United Way Spirits of Gold 2005 Diversity Award, through the Walk-In Closet community service; in 2008 the Association transitions from a working board to a governance board structure
  • 2009 - 10: 1200 women supported and in 2010, a new funding partnership is established with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. IN 2010, 5000 volunteer hours were contributed.
  • 2011 - 12: Moved into new location (sponsored by Albi and their trade partners), end of March30th anniversary of the Making Changes – Employment and Life Skills program and in 2012, My Best Friends Closet Program starts
  • 2013: 2,000 women and teens supported

Clothes on hangers at the Walk-In ClosetOur Impact What We Do

At Making Changes, we work within a community development framework and believe in the power of partnerships and networks to enhance our ability to connect the women we support to employment opportunities in our community. Making Changes has more than 150 referral partners representing social service agencies, community groups, education, health, and business.

“A women-only program is safe and empowering. It made me regain my self-confidence and reassured me that there is a place for me in my new community.” –ELS participant

Our GOAL: Transforming our community by supporting one woman at the time.

Our MISSION: As a registered charity, Making Changes is a community of women helping women through life transition by providing them with skills and resources to support their pursuit of meaningful work and educational opportunities.

Our VISION: Empowering women to make meaningful contributions to the community. Our core VALUES reinforce the reason why we exist which is simply to EMPOWER through:

  • Educational success
  • Meaningful work
  • Promoting change
  • OptimismWomen helping women
  • Ethical practices
  • Respect

Making Changes Employment and Life Skills Staff MembersOur Programs How We Do It

Making Changes empowers women in transition by offering three core programs: the Walk-In Closet, the Employment and Life Skills Program and My Best Friends Closet. All our programs are offered free for participants

WALK-IN CLOSET | The Walk-In Closet's mandate is to empower women by providing knowledge and a selection of work attire for their transition into the workplace. 

The Walk-In Closet 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. 

In 2014-2015, 1,652 women facing financial barriers accessed our service. Outcomes for 2014-2015 showed that following their appointment at the Walk-In Closet:

  • 98% of participants reported having appropriate clothing for interviews/work
  • 96% of participants reported an increase in motivation to look for employment
  • 98% of participants reported an increase in confidence in their appearance to gain employment

EMPLOYMENT AND LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM | This program assists immigrant women in establishing more meaningful lives in their new society through career planning, information sharing, networking, job search skills and assertiveness training.

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 2014-2015, 115 women accessed much needed assistance to learn about and engage with their new culture. Outcomes for 2014-15 showed:

  • 95% of participants reported a significantly increased knowledge of community resources
  • 100% of participants reported an increased knowledge of job search skills
  • 100% of participants reported increased confidence

MY BEST FRIEND'S CLOSET | My Best Friend’s Closet (MBFC) is Making Changes Association’s youth program. The program provides teenaged girls from low-income households with clothing and accessories to meet their school and recreational needs for one year – 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 who assists them in choosing clothes and accessories in a fun, retail-style space. 

In 2014-2015 My Best Friend’s Closet served 453 teenaged girls. The feedback from the young women has been overwhelmingly positive, with survey results from 2014-2015 participants showing that following their appointment:

  • 94% of participants reported increased self-confidence
  • 99% of participants reported they were happy with the service
  • 98% of participants indicated that their consultant was helpful during their appointment

My Best Friend's Closet  Volunteer Steaming ClothesOur Requests What You Can Do

There are several ways you can help the Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta, including: cash donations, clothing donations, clothing drives, in-kind donations or by becoming involved in one of our many volunteer opportunities.

CASH DONATIONS | In order to continue to provide programs and services to women in transition, we welcome your generous financial contributions. We are a registered charitable organization and official income tax receipts are issued for donations of $20.00 or more.

  • A $200 donation allows us to provide a woman or girl with the neccessary clothing to move forward on her work or educational journey with confidence.
  • A $500 donation sponsors one woman to participate in our Employment and Life Skills program.

CLOTHING DONATIONS | Donations for the Walk-In Closet and our teen program, My Best Friend's Closet, may be dropped off on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Also on select Saturdays between 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. No appointment is necessary for donation drop off.

For the Walk-In Closet, we gratefully accept  laundered, seasonal  donations of for the following item in size 0 to Plus size. Clothing in sizes 0-4 and Plus sizes are always in short supply and greatly appreciated!

 For My Best Friend's Closter, we  gratefully accept teen clothing in size XS through Plus size : 

  • Jeans, pants, leggings, shorts 
  • Athletic wear 
  • T-shirts, hoodies, cardigans, sweaters, tank tops 
  • Skirts and dresses 
  • Shoes and boots (all seasons) 
  • Backpacks and purses 
  • New undergarnement
  • Jewellery and accessories (scarves, gloves, hair ties) Unused toiletries (shampoo, body wash, deodorant, female sanitary products) 

IN-KIND DONATIONS | Corporate donations of new items may be accepted in support of the needs of the Making Changes Assoc. and its programs. In-kind donations must be new items and  meet the needs of the Association.  Tax receipts are available if an itemized list including item cost is included.

VOLUNTEERING | We are looking for volunteers who want to take an active role in making Calgary a better place for women and their families. Community members can take on numerous volunteer roles such as Image Consultants, clothing sorters, Board members, employment mentors, classroom assistants, administrative or clerical supports, marketing and design consultants, First Impressions presenters, bingo and casino helpers.

Our volunteers are essential to ensuring that Making Changes remains rooted in community and the reason we were able to provide meaningful supports to more than 2,000 females last year. As part of the Making Changes team, our volunteers contributed  12,718 hours, impacting the lives of 2000 women in 2014-2015! Please do not hesitate to contact us for information; if you have any questions email volunteer@makingchangesassociation.ca or call 403-262-5776.

Calgary