Anne-Marie Edgar finds joy in discovering her clients’ hidden talents.
Edgar, the executive director of Make A Change Canada, meets with a variety of people ready to enter or re-enter the work force. During those encounters, she’s continually surprised by the strengths her clients bring with them.
“I don’t know how many times I’m talking to a client and they say they write poetry or they do voiceovers or they are a filmmaker, they’ve written a book,” she said. “It’s amazing really how talented our clientele is, and we’re just there to support that.”
Make A Change Canada is a Nelson-based charity that provides online career assistance training as well as a web development and design program. It’s also the organizer and beneficiary of the fundraising game between the Kootenay Patricks and Montreal Canadiens alumni on Jan. 23 in Nelson.
Edgar said the program was initially run by Community Futures, who later made it into its own charity as the Canadian Society for Social Development nearly 15 years ago. It again changed into Make A Change Canada in 2015.
Edgar, who joined the charity in 2007, said clients from across Canada who face challenges to employment use Make A Change’s services. About 85 per cent of her clients, Edgar said, have a disability of some type. But they also range in age from youth to seniors, have varying degrees of education and their own reasons for seeking a new job.
“I like to define our clients as being savvy, talented, really determined and motivated, but in some way they’ve hit a rut or that bump in the road,” she said. “So in essence they’re ready to move past whatever hurdle they’ve run into.”
Funds from the game, Edgar said, will be used to create bursaries for local clients to take the web development program, as well as to fund local adaptive sports programming for children with special needs.
Prior to joining Make A Change, Edgar worked at Kootenay Lake Hospital. She said that job showed her how to work with people who are trying to overcome the hurdles life has put in their way.
“All of the worries that people carry, I really learned a lot about that working at the hospital and how that manifests itself through your communication with them,” said Edgar. “People face a lot of challenges, but it’s pretty amazing how once they make up their mind to try to do better, to find better, that it doesn’t seem to affect them at all.
“We love what we do.”