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Story 4

By: Otisha Sousa

Whether your niche is floor hockey, dodge ball or curling – the Calgary Sport and Social Club has what you’re looking for – sports and beer.

Winter seasons began in early January, but fear not – spring registration will be open mid-February. There is no membership fee, and you don’t have to be a member in order to participate.

The club plans to kick off the spring season with a dodge ball tournament ‘Battle of Alberta XXI’ hosted in Red Deer on February 4th, followed by an indoor volleyball tournament that will be hosted in Calgary on February 11th.

The CSSC is Calgary’s largest co-ed sports league offering leagues, tournaments, fitness classes and events for adults. There are four seasons with the club – Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.

Currently, the club is offers badminton, basketball, dodge ball, floor hockey, soccer, volleyball and kick ball. Beach volleyball, slo-pitch, beach dodge ball are just three out of the nine additional sports the CSSC offers during Spring.

The club is often considered a great alternative to competitive and costly post-secondary leagues along with the pricey Calgary Women’s and Men’s leagues. Many CSSC players expressed a common concern that post-secondary leagues were too much of a commitment, and Calgary’s adult leagues were often too inaccessible or too competitive.

“The Calgary Women’s leagues fees were outrageous, it was something like $2500 per team. With the CSSC it’s nothing over $600.” said Mehnoush Kahijl, a participant in CSSC Recreational Plus basketball.

Kahijl explained that not only were the fees outrageous, there were only three divisions offered – A League, B League or Masters League. The CSSC offers league divisions anywhere from ‘Really Recreational’ to ‘Intermediate Plus’, for example there are 14 divisions offered from Sunday to Thursday in the CSSC Soccer league.

Players with CSSC also find the registration process more convenient, offering the options of registering as an individual, a group between one and four people, or even as a whole team.

“With the Calgary Women’s league, there’s no way to register as an individual, you’ve got to organize an entire team together and sometimes it can be frustrating,” said Kahijl.

The CSSC places individuals on ‘singles teams’, with the hopes of providing a great opportunity for players to throw themselves out there and get to know new people.

With no referees, and CSSC hired Game and Event Coordinators instead, the club’s motto of ‘fun first’ is ensured, offering an opportunity for athletes to enjoy a laid back game of volleyball, and network with new people.

“More often than not I’ve just got a bunch of players who are just out there to have fun, but there’s the odd time I’ll have to kick a player out of the gym.” said Amy Johanssen, a Games Coordinator with the league.

Players are responsible for calling their own fouls and violations, while the Game or Event Coordinators are simply there to supervise the game and deal with any discrepancies that might come up.

Teams are even encouraged to go out and have a few drinks – responsibly – at a nearby sponsor bar. VIP cards are also available, which provide players with deals and discounts.

For any players interested in playing, registration is encouraged online at www.calgarysportsclub.com, additional information on the club or a complete list of sport leagues offered can be sought at 403 244 PLAY (7529) or the club’s website.

 

 

Story 3

By: Otisha Sousa

For 16 students in Kandahar next week, dreams of an education will truly come alive.

About forty people, including SAIT students and staff, along with a few members from the media crowded into room MB026G in the Heart building on SAIT campus just before 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 7. It was 9:30 p.m. in Kandahar, well past curfew for women in Afghanistan.

Ensanullah Ehsan, the director and also a member of the teacher staff at the ACCC, and two female students were present for a Skype interview. The live video stream was projected onto a wall for everyone to see, a SAIT flag was hung next to an ACCC flag behind their podium. 

“We love to see the SAIT flag flying in Afghanistan,” said Gord Nixon, Vice President of Academics here at SAIT Polytechnic.

“We are too,” said Ehsan, following a four second delay.

A grin summed up their appreciation for the partnership between the ACCC and SAIT.

With great honor, 16 students will be walking the stage this coming week of March 12 as graduates with business management certificates from SAIT in partnership with the ACCC, a respected educational institute supported by the Canadian International Learning Foundation.

The partnership began in 2007. Currently, more than 40 students are enrolled in SAIT online courses.

“The students have been logging into SAIT courses just as a Canadian student would, except they are doing it from a desk in Kandahar,” said Nixon.

For safety reasons, the exact date of the graduation cannot be released.

“A third of the women about to graduate have already secured employment.” said Nixon in his introduction to the interview.

“For many women, this is beyond their wildest dreams. Some women are now able to work with organizations such as the UN, providing a salary 4 to 5 times what the men in their families make.”

Ehsan began by expressing his gratitude and pride in both the ACCC and SAIT for the opportunities they have made possible for the women and girls in Kandahar, wishing everyone a happy International Women’s Day.

“Education is the basic right of every human being,” said Ehsan.

 “It gives the women the chance to support their families and be part of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. It helps to slowly show the community the value of women and women’s education.”

It was a statement that is obvious for many people here in Canada, but very controversial in war-torn Kandahar.

 “I have learned optimism from the courses I’ve taken,” said Maryam, a 19-year-old student at the ACCC who lives in Kandahar with her mother, sisters and brothers.

She has been studying with the school since 2008, and began teaching there last year.

“I believe that education is the only tool against what is happening here.” said Maryam in a prepared speech.

“It’s because of SAIT that I am now working with the UN on a salary.”

Of course these chances at an education come with great risk in Kandahar.

According to Ehsan, several students and teachers have been harmed on their ways to and from school.

“It is the birthplace of many enemies,” said Ehsan when asked about the type of environment the girls endure to get to school every day.

“But if we do not fight, we cannot win.” 

“Every day going outside is dangerous. I face many challenges, but SAIT has encouraged me so much.” said Heena, another student at the ACCC.

Heena is an 18-year-old student who lives with her five sisters and two brothers. She hopes to become a doctor.

“There were days when I sat at home with nothing to do. Now I’m working, and going outside.” she said.

Ryan Aldred was also available for a few words through a Skype interview where he congratulated the women who are to graduate next week.

“Best wishes to our graduates, and their families.” said Aldred, who is the President and Co-Founder of the CILF.

“This is life changing, these women are now making a family’s salary.”

The ACCC students are in demand by international development agencies, local businesses and the Afghan government.

Funding for the centre will end in September of this year, and Aldred is working to urge the government to extend their funding.

“We’re hoping to eventually reach a point where the centre will be completely self sufficient,” said Aldred.

For those who are interested in learning more, or interested in donating to the centre, please visit www.theafghanschool.org.

 

 

 

Story 2

Word count: 575

By: Otisha Sousa

Dine and dash, lick and split, grub and snub – however you put it, it’s all running out on the check, and Hooters has been hit twice in the last 30 days.

Usually, there’s been no plot, the server just looks up to discover their customers have left without paying. On occasion, there’s the odd “I left my debit card at home.”

Hooters South Calgary has been a popular target for meal crimes these past months.

“Another popular plot is to go out for a smoke. They’ll even ask you to watch something of theirs,” says Kelsea McGill, a server at Hooters.

“Little do you know, but that purse they asked you to look after is empty,”

Hooters’ policy is to obtain a piece of government issued photo I.D. when customers ask to leave to go for a smoke.

“This usually prevents them from considering ditching on their bill, but even if they still go ahead with it – we have their information.” says McGill.

Walking out on a bill is a form of theft by fraud, when a customer orders and consumes food from a restaurant with no intent to pay, and then leaves without paying.

The girls at Hooters have been hit twice by the same group within the last thirty days.

The first incident was in late January, and it was tricky.

“They asked their server if she would watch their cell while they all went out for a smoke, pointing to a phone left face down on the table,” said McGill.

Although the server managed to snag a health care card, a few minutes later another table in her section let her know they saw the three boys running from the building.

“It was a seventy dollar tab,”

So who is responsible for paying? Many servers at the restaurant were under the impression that it would be their responsibility, but the seniority servers knew better.

“We have a walk out fund that we each pay $1.00 into every shift. It’s unfair to make a server pay for someone’s tab with their tips – that’s how we pay our bills.”

According to the Alberta Employment Standards Fact Sheet, it’s actually illegal for restaurants to have servers do so. A lot of restaurants have a ‘dine and dash’ fund but this is voluntary and not required. An employer cannot legally make a server pay for a dine and dash, it’s actually even illegal to pay for breakage.

The manager on duty, Adrianne Neri, contacted the police who came in to gather statements from all of the witnesses. Eventually, the server was asked to pick the suspect out of a photo lineup, and did so successfully. Charges were laid.

But a second incident occurred on Wednesday, February 15th at around 10:30 p.m. at Hooters.

“They were so nice, that’s what I don’t get.” said Melissa Hampton, a new server with Hooters.

“They said they forgot their debit card, and then darted out of the door.”

Ironically, Neri was the manager on duty that night as well.  This time, Neri tracked them down in the parking lot and brought them back into the restaurant to pay for their bill. The three suspects darted out of the door again, and Neri contacted the police.

“With a positive I.D. by two individuals who have dealt with a previous incident, we’ll be pressing additional charges.”  said Officer Johnson.

With no fixed address, a warrant is out for the young male’s arrest.

 

Story 1

By: Otisha Sousa

Kathryn Sim, Communications and Marketing coordinator with Calgary’s Interfaith Food Bank, says “every food bank in Canada’s demand for food goes up this time of year,”.

In December 2010 an average of 380 hampers were handed out in a day, while in April of this year an average of 215 hampers were handed out in a day.

Fortunately, the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank’s only major concern during this time of year isn’t gathering enough food.

“We are very fortunate, we receive a ton of food donations,” said Sim.

“We depend greatly on volunteers. The food comes in huge quantities, and we have to get it all sorted in time to get it out to clients and all sorts of agencies.”

Calgarians tend to take it upon themselves to initiate both fundraisers and food drives for the Food Bank this time of year, every year.

“People tend to become more aware of the need for food this time of year, with holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza.” said Sim.

Their major concern is recruiting enough volunteers this time of year. The Food Bank depends on 80 – 100 volunteers in spring, and almost double that come winter.

“[They do everything] – from sorting the non-perishables to packaging the hampers for the next day.” said Sim.

Individual Calgarians and Corporate Calgary contribute a great number of donations. Companies like Campbells donate to Food Banks all across Canada consistently all year long.

“Donations just happen to spike this time of year,” said Sim.

Campbell’s Haunted House and Co-op’s Stuff a Bus events just wrapped up, while a majority of other food drives and fundraisers are just beginning to kick off.

The CBC/Suncor Food Bank Drive which took place December 1 – 24th of last year raised over a million dollars.

“The CBC/Suncor Food Drive is huge for us. There are concerts, book signings; it’s not up on our website just yet because we don’t want to take away from our other events.” said Sim.

Other events that are coming up are Tom Jackson’s ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime’ on December 13th, Amble with Angus Cowan and CBC on December 16th, and the Ikea Tree Lot from November 21st – December 22nd.

The biggest concern for the Food Bank is educating people on donations. A majority of their food purchasing budget is spent on Protein and Dairy products.

“We tend to want to give the best bang for our buck, but you can find protein in canned tuna, canned salmon, canned ham and even canned chicken.” said Sim.

 “Just because the bin donations around the city only accept non-perishables doesn’t mean you can’t donate perishables at the warehouse.”

Perishable donations would include foods like fruits, milk, eggs, veggies, and meat and are encouraged.

“Even if you don’t have much money or food to donate, you can become a great help by being involved in volunteering.” said Sim.

Anyone who is interested – companies, organizations or even individuals can organize their own fundraisers and food drives in order to make a contribution to the Food Bank’s cause. See details on the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank’s website:  http://www.calgaryfoodbank.com/fooddrives.html

 

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