Signs of Success - Community Social Work Students and Portage College Staff Step Up for the Food Bank
October 8, 2021

Eight students from the Community Social Work (CSW) program volunteered 25 hours of muscle to place signs for a 10-kilometer bike route and 5-kilometer walk in the Cold Lake Food Bank’s Ride for Refuge fundraiser event.

Students holding signs for the Ride for Refuge race in Cold Lake
Portage College Community Social Work students volunteering for the Ride for Refuge.

"Our CSW students are always willing to help out in the community whenever needed." says Lyla Allan, Program Coordinator for Community Social Work and Fine Arts at Portage College. She was one of six Portage College staff members who also exercised goodwill by lacing up on event day.

The Ride for Refuge is the flagship event for the Cold Lake Food Bank which serves a large area including the communities that surround the Cold Lake area. Participants register to raise money and commit to walking 5 kilometers or riding their bicycle 10 kilometers or more to help alleviate food insecurity.

“I definitely did not know what to expect,” explains Raelynn Nelson, a first year CSW student who set up route signs the evening prior. “My teacher informed us of this opportunity to volunteer and I immediately went online to see what the purpose of the event was. I appreciated that the money raised was going directly back into our community to help families in need.”  

To date, the Cold Lake Food Bank has provided 2,342 food hampers to 655 households, the majority of which have children. On the morning of Saturday October 2, the Ride for Refuge took place for its sixth year in Cold Lake and has so far raised over $7,300. Its success would not have been possible without the Community Social Work students and college staff.

“Portage went above expectation for the ride by volunteering to set up route signs, fundraising, as well as having a team show up to do a 5km walk. It was great to see the community involvement,” says Nic Caron-Lavoie, Executive Director of the Cold Lake Food Bank. “I was surprised by how well it went given last year we didn’t hold an in-person event”.

Portage College team for the 5km walk
Portage College Ride for Refuge 5km walking team.

Nelson, who plans on going for her Bachelor’s in Social Work and then applying to law school says having the opportunity to meet the event organizer was the part of the experience that she is most grateful for. Speaking about being provided with connections, “That will greatly benefit me in my journey as a Social Work student.”

For more information about the Community Social Work program:
Lindsay Toth, Marketing Specialist

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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