The Culbert Family Award for Philanthropy

 

Culberts Winners and Lucy 1

The Culbert Family Award for Philanthropy Winners

National Volunteer Week is April 10-16 and we thought we would showcase some of the hardest working volunteers we know. Michelle Moon and Lourdes Juan are the 2015 recipients of the Culbert Family Award for Philanthropy, recognizing Calgarians who are working hard to make the city a better place for all. We caught up with winners Michelle Moon and Lourdes Juan and asked them some questions about their plans for the year ahead and what keeps them motivated.

Picture of Lourdes Juan  Owner of Soma Spa and Founder of LeftOvers.
Lourdes Juan  Owner of Soma Spa and Founder of LeftOvers

 

  1. What do you love about Calgary?

Calgary has always been my home and the place I choose to own and operate my different ventures. It is full of opportunity, success, culture & excitement. There are mavericks that emerge from this city that make Calgary a better place to live, work, and play. It is an inspiring city where people work to profit and give back to where they live.

  1. What made you want to want to dedicate time to philanthropy?

I’ve always felt that there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the non-profit sector. Calgary faces many social challenges that need to be addressed and I’m a firm believer in “give where you live”. I want to dedicate as much time to philanthropy as I can because I see an opportunity to shape what Calgary looks like and to inspire the next generation to give back.

  1. Where will you be directing your award money?

The proceeds went into Leftovers Foundation. We are an organization that works to eliminate food waste, and alleviate hunger in our city. We not only deliver excess food to service agencies in needs, but we also are working on changing the way people think about our food systems. How much we waste and what policies we can affect at the municipal, provincial, and federal level to ensure innovate solutions to this complex issue.

  1. Tell me about your plans for the year for the Leftovers organization.

We would like to get a Leftovers app built so our volunteers, service organizations, and vendors can stay in touch and so that we can track all of our metrics and what impact we are making in the community. With this information, we hope to take Leftovers to another Canadian city in the next year!

  1. What do you see as the most pressing issue we need to address in Calgary?

Calgarians are so giving with their time, energy, and money. I think the most pressing issue is keeping Calgary engaged in the non-profit sector and volunteer work. I hope we never lose this momentum.

  1. Describe how your community/organization/worldview has grown through United Way?

United Way has been such a voice for all non-profits, big and small. It focuses on our city and how we can make Calgary even better. I believe United Way has given hope to the less fortunate and opportunity for millennials to be engaged in our community.

 

Picture of Michelle Moon
Michelle Moon Founder of YYC Do-Gooders
  1. What do you love about Calgary?

I love the dynamism of our community. I love that Calgarians are open-minded, and not afraid of meeting strangers, building enduring partnerships, or starting something new together.

When I came to Calgary in 2011, I lacked friends and connections. In an effort to expand my professional network, I invited a few ladies out for dinner who also worked in investment banking. The dinner was a success, and we followed up with a second dinner a couple of months later. By then word had spread, and over 20 ladies were interested in joining us. These were the humble beginnings of Calgary Women in Finance, which now has 200+ members. I appreciate how enthusiastic these ladies have been about meeting and connecting with each other, and creating a powerful community among professional women in Calgary.

  1. What made you want to want to dedicate time to philanthropy?

In junior high, I won a small monetary award at a youth short film festival. I was thrilled about the prospect of spending it on designer jeans that my parents would never buy for me. However, my mother sternly reminded me of greater things that can be achieved with $300. We ended up buying toys and school supplies with my award money and donating them to a local children’s orphanage in time for Christmas. In high school, my friends and I launched a fundraising campaign for Doctors Without Borders, an international NGO that provides emergency medical care in crisis regions around the globe. Our financial contribution was small, but it was an eye-opening experience for young aspiring philanthropists, and instilled in me the desire to be aware, understand issues impacting our local and global community, and try to be part of the solution.

More recently, senior partners at ARC Financial Corp., especially Brian Boulanger and Nancy Lever are enthusiastic advocates of United Way, and have encouraged young professionals like myself to get involved.

  1. Where will you be directing your award money?

I donated my award money in its entirety to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. Over the last 24 months, the financial situation of many Calgary families has been adversely affected. I am happy to support this team of committed professionals that work with women, children, and men who have been hurt by domestic violence. The importance of healthy families in our community cannot be overstated.

  1. Tell me about your plans for the year for the YYC Do-Gooders group.

YYC Do-Gooders was formed out of one of my New Year’s resolutions – to contribute more to our community. I shared this vision with friends and colleagues, and received unconditional support. YYC Do-Gooders is now a dynamic group of fourteen individuals, looking to increase awareness about family violence and crimes against women, and raise funds in benefit of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.

We received generous sponsorship from Dahlson Industries, and are hosting this year’s best Stampede party titled “Roundup for Her” at the Metropolitan Centre on July 14 in benefit of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.

Moreover, to kick things off, we are working with Willow Park Florist on a Mother’s Day flower sale, from which 20% of your purchases go to benefit the Shelter. For more information, please visit http://yyc-do-gooders.wix.com/cwes

  1. What do you see as the most pressing issue we need to address in Calgary?

Currently, joblessness is the most pressing issue that we need to address in Calgary. Layoff announcements decorate newspaper headlines every week. I have many friends and acquaintances that have lost their jobs. The loss of income is affecting every aspect of their life. One friend confided in me how terrified she was of losing her job, because she is the primary breadwinner for the family, and has a young daughter to support. My heart goes out to everyone that has been affected. It is critical that policymakers, politicians, community leaders and business executives collaborate effectively to weather this storm, and keep our community vibrant and thriving.

  1. Describe how your community/organization/worldview has grown through United Way?

My participation in United Way’s NEXT Program helped me grow as an individual and a young philanthropist. NEXT Program participants met with the Community Investment Team at United Way to learn about how they work to produce measurable impacts in our community, and many ways in which United Way supports its community agencies and projects. We spoke with leaders like Lucy Miller and Rick George about the importance of community involvement and philanthropy in their lives. Moreover, I benefited from meeting like-minded millennials, some of whom I continue to work with in the YYC Do-Gooders project. In addition, I spent half a day volunteering at EXIT, a community agency dedicated to helping struggling urban young adults. There, I met urban youths in poverty that fight their way to survival every day. They sneak into office buildings to find a warm place to sleep, and get kicked out by security guards. They beg for food on the streets. When they have no luck doing so, they starve the day. After one has an eye-opening experience like that, community involvement is a priority, not an option.

Through this experience with United Way, my worldview has grown to focus more on “we” than “me”, and I feel empowered to be an ambitious “do-gooder” in our community. I am deeply grateful for the work that everyone at United Way does, and appreciative of my experience in the NEXT Program.

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