The purpose of Making Changes Association (MCA) is to empower women and girls to make meaningful contributions to the community and workplace. MCA is a community of women helping women and their families through life transition by providing them with the skills and resources to support their pursuit of meaningful educational and employment opportunities.
At Making Changes, we are committed to creating an environment of inclusion and welcome all who identify as women regardless of age, race/ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or physical ability.
Making Changes celebrates diversity and is committed to creating a safe space, while helping to advance futures for women in our community.
We’re passionate about helping women and teen girls experiencing life transitions to overcome barriers, open doors and create their own paths. Over the years, thousands of clients have found their way to us – each with their own unique story. For some, it’s as they prepare to re-enter the workforce or as new-to-Canada residents, while others find us because their lives took an unexpected turn.
For over 30 years and 250+ volunteers-rich, Making Changes Association has been integral to Calgary’s “women-helping-women” network. We work with 100+ referral partners representing immigrant and human services agencies, community groups, education, health and business.
We help put confidence back in your step, hope in your heart and a smile on your face. The positive life-changing results of our clients and Programs can be seen in offices, classrooms, stores and communities around Calgary. By the smiles on clients’ faces. And the fact that many clients have become Making Changes volunteers – and even employees – speaks volumes.
Our clients’ success is everyone’s success. And it’s made possible thanks to our 250+ volunteers, staff, trusting clients and many community partners, donors and supporters. By working together, we’re each thriving in our own way.
Advancing futures for women. Together.
As a female centered organization, we offer four programs that are strategically connected to one another with the common objective of empowering women and teenage girls:
· The Employment and Life Skills Program is a pre-employment program offered to immigrant women who are permanent residents and newcomers to Calgary and area. Many of these women are university graduates who are looking to increase or adapt their skills to be successful within the Canadian workforce. The program aims to support these women by providing them with the tools necessary to identify their skills, values and interests and effectively manoeuvre within the Canadian workforce. The program staff are supported by many MCA volunteers who facilitate workshops focusing on the necessary hard, soft, and essential skills required to enter the Canadian work force. This program provides valuable pre-employment training to develop skills such as assertiveness, self-efficacy, career planning, information retrieval, job search and job maintenance.
· The Women in Technology Program is an integrated skills training program that combines employability skills upgrading, technical training in the field of web development, and hands-on work experience to produce employment outcomes for unemployed or underemployed immigrant and aboriginal women in Calgary. Each class supports 15 women as they progress through a six month, full time, integrated skills development process which includes 5 weeks of Employment and Life Skills upgrading, 17 weeks of technical skills training in web development, 4 weeks of on the job work experience at local Calgary employers where the participants can practice their skills, and 180 day post program employment search support.
The objectives of the program are to increase women’s economic security by reducing barriers for women’s full participation in the labor market and to facilitate women in leadership and democratic participation by developing and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives in a male dominated workplace. As of March 2021, 54% of the participants have found employment within 90-180 days of completing the program.
· The two ‘Closet’ programs provide no-cost new and gently used quality fashionable clothing, accessories, and toiletries to women and teenage girls. Our unique approach involves one-on-one consultations that empower participants to collaborate with their volunteer Image Consultant to build an appropriate and functional wardrobe for work or school. These programs are not just about providing clothing and accessories but increasing the confidence and self-esteem of our clients. Both programs are now offered online, and in-person based on the client’s preference. The same high-quality experience is provided through either delivery option.
· Dress for Success Calgary is a confidence building, empowerment program that provides 90-minute personalized 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. Besides physically equipping the client with apparel and accessories for employment and participation in the community our programs, we furnish her with the confidence that she carries forever and the knowledge that she can actively define her life, the direction she takes, and what success means to her…
· My Best Friend’s Closet (MBFC) Fitting in is an important part of the teenage experience and having a selection of stylish items assists both with motivation to attend school and the confidence to connect with peers. My Best Friend’s Closet (MBFC) is a youth empowerment program that provides teenaged girls aged 12-18 from low-income households with one-on-one 90-minute consultation and a year’s worth of confidence building clothing and accessories to meet their school, employment, and recreational needs – all at no cost to their families. MBFC also provides valuable leadership and personal development opportunities to young women in the community, who volunteer in the program and act as peers or near-peers to the girls they support. Many teenage clients return to MCA as volunteers, eager to provide mentorship to other young women. The MBFC online community offers workshops that are volunteer monitored and provides a safe online space for teen girls to meet. Networking, workshops, and 1 on 1 mentorship has been popular with girls desiring to maintain connections with others during times of isolation. These online opportunities would not be possible without the time and expertise shared by volunteers. Development of this community has been an important response to the isolation and mental health issues that have occurred over the past 2 years.
The clothing provided to clients along with the skills offered through the 4 programs provide a unique and comprehensive opportunity for women that includes encouraging women in the areas of leadership, belonging and confidence and inspire participants and volunteers to be active in the community. At MCA we build community and create collaborative partnerships through the organizational philosophy of mentorship that connects us all as staff, volunteers, and participants. Kindness, relevant support, and respect are the key factors that make all the difference in how we serve. We are a community of women helping women. Women who connect to MCA find that their lives change whether they are program participants, staff, or volunteers. Many participants becoming volunteers, and some have moved into staff positions.
What You Can Do
Financial donations as well as donations of high quality women’s clothing are greatly appreciated.
In order to continue to support our clients and ensure their employment training Making Changes Association has areas of need that include:
– providing employment training , workplace readiness and My Best Friend’s Closet programs online $ 15,000
– providing ongoing mental health supports to newcomer clients and vulnerable seniors (both clients and our volunteers) $15,000
– recovering from reduced availability for fundraising events $20,000