(Business Edge introduces a new feature this week with Community Works, a monthly column highlighting business involvement in community and charitable programs.)
As the vice-president of public affairs for EnCana, Dick Wilson could probably throw a lot of weight around.
But it would only be symbolic weight, thanks to CUSO’s Pounds for People Program. Pounds for People is an initiative through which Canadians can increase their fitness and well-being while raising pledges for pounds lost. The funds raised support the work of CUSO – a non-profit organization committed to social, environmental and economic sustainability in developing countries.
Wilson’s involvement began with a suggestion from a business associate.
“Last year, I was approached by Bob Liddle about corporate sponsorship for the program, but it didn’t fit our community investment profile at the time.”
The concept did, however, align with Wilson’s personal goals. He registered and began rounding up pledges from co-workers, family and neighbours. Funds raised are based on results achieved with the facilities and support of World Health Clubs, which provide this $500 program free through CUSO to as many as 200 people in Edmonton and 250 in Calgary.
The 12-week program includes a fitness evaluation and wellness counselling, followed by a year of monthly consultations supervised by a weight-control expert.
Wilson stayed with the program and began to reap the benefits.
“Before I started, I had never seen the inside of an exercise room in my adult life,” Wilson laughs. “But now my back pockets have started to meet at the mid-seam, I have more energy and more incentive to keep going.”
CUSO also reaped the benefits, as EnCana matched pledges from Wilson’s co-workers. The EnCana Cares program will meet individual donations to as much as $25,000 per employee.
That support helped Wilson raise the highest individual amount for Pounds for People last year. “Bob Liddle came in second,” Wilson notes – or gloats.
Wilson and Liddle were just two of the 90 Albertans who participated in Pounds for People in 2001.
“We had a total of 3,000 workouts that raised $32,000. This meant we were able to create clean water systems, assist and improve in farming methods and much more in places such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa,” says Ed Taylor, CUSO’s event co-ordinator in Alberta.
Jan Tollenaar, an employee of Telus in Edmonton, heard about Pounds for People on the radio and is almost single-handedly building its profile in that city.
She developed a database, set up list servers for the participants and built a website. She is also participating in the program and is looking into obtaining more support through the communities program at Telus.
“I have some personal wellness plans that I am working on and have chosen my 40th birthday to ensure that I am able to have these habits of wellness embedded in my lifestyle,” Tollenaar says.
“As well, I am benefiting by having a sense of accomplishment that I am helping a fabulous cause.”
Pounds for People 2002 program deadline is October 12. Call 403-283-2871 or visit www.poundsforpeople.com
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Coming up next week in the community:
* Say Hay fund-raiser for drought relief, Edmonton
Oct. 13, Calgary Oct. 14.
* Wordfest Oct. 17-20 Calgary and Banff.
(Karen Ritchie hosts The Community File on QR77 Radio. Contact email@example.com.)