Having experienced homelessness firsthand, the Pederson Family chose to advocate and support the cause
When you choose a Cause to support, it’s often the Cause that is closest to your heart. Nothing could be closer to Allison and Gord Pederson’s hearts than helping people experiencing homelessness. As a young man Gord went through periods of time living on the streets, sleeping in between the entrance doors of the Vimy Arena, now the location of the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre. He grew up in foster care and moved out on his own early in life. He knows firsthand how hard it is to face challenges accessing food and shelter.
Gord and his wife Allison launched the Pederson Family Foundation Fund to support organizations serving those experiencing homelessness.
“Too often people who are experiencing challenges with poverty are unseen or unheard and it’s up to others to change that,” states Allison. “If we can take an hour or even sometimes just a few minutes to stop and have a chat with someone… Ask them their name, lean in, and look at them like they matter. Because they do.”
Allison and Gord have volunteered in both Kenora and Winnipeg handing out food and chatting with people in need, and they volunteer at Agape Table as well.
“There’s a sense of love and belonging at Agape Table that’s palpable,” says Allison. “People are seen, heard, and respected. It’s the kind of organization that we like to support.”
Allison’s mom provided a huge amount of motivation to serve and give back to the community. Some of Allison’s earliest memories are her mom’s involvement with the United Church, sponsoring refugee families, volunteering at soup kitchens, and serving meals during the holidays. The value of serving others was instilled in Allison at an early age.
“There’s a lot of natural wisdom that comes from strife,” notes Allison. “Those who have been there have a lot to teach us, if we’re willing to get out of their way and listen.”
Gord is retired from the automotive industry and Allison is a nurse with the Canadian Virtual Hospice, helping provide evidence informed information, support on advanced illness, palliative care, and grief.
The Winnipeg Foundation was always on their radar and both Gord and Allison appreciate the longevity and permanence of The Foundation.
“When Gord was looking into this originally, he liked the fact that The Winnipeg Foundation had been around a long time and saw that it wasn’t going anywhere,” said Allison. “The staff are very interested and motivated in their work, and that comes through whenever we’ve had interactions with the folks there. You’ve made it easy for us so thank you for that.”
This story is featured in the Spring 2022 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.