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Former Miss Alberta climbs into Top 40

Amberlee Erdmann talks with another woman at the downtown offices of the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society. Erdmann is this week’s recipient of the Top 40 under 40.   - Mark Brett/Western News
Amberlee Erdmann talks with another woman at the downtown offices of the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society. Erdmann is this week’s recipient of the Top 40 under 40.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Amberlee Erdmann admits she is whole-heartedly a country girl.

Running through wheat fields and climbing haystacks, it was when she turned 19 she decided to leave her hometown just outside of Edmonton to “change the world” one little bit at a time.

She found her place in Penticton to do just that.

“I always knew that I wanted a career where I can help people. My family has always been hugely involved in giving back to the community and I knew I wanted to continue that through social justice and activism,” said Erdmann.

“It makes me happy knowing I helped somebody else, whether that is counselling or simply carrying someone’s groceries.

“Whatever the scale I have improved someone’s day and to me that is extremely rewarding.”

It is why she is being recognized as one of Penticton’s Top 40 Under 40 which highlights business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders who excel in their respective industries.

Graduating from University of British Columbia - Okanagan with a bachelor of social work she became a social worker at a non-profit organization that supports victims of sexual assault and relationship violence.

Her position at the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society is unique in that she is responsible for public relations and spreading awareness of victims’ issues.

This means running campaigns, recruiting and training volunteers, applying for financial grants to organizing fundraisers and all while supporting SOVAS clients and staff.

“I work with a wonderful team at SOVAS and I am so fortunate to have the position I do,” she said.

Ever since she was young, Erdmann has been involved with some sort of philanthropic cause. She has raised money for international orphanages, supported the Stollery Children’s Hospital, built 10 houses in Mexico and volunteers at a Mexican orphanage.

The list is too long to keep going. Erdmann also was involved with the Girl Guides for about 15 years, starting as a spark and working her way up to being a link.

The 25-year-old said she never was into sports in her youth

“I was totally that awkward girl that went to kick a soccer ball and accidentally stepped on it and fell. I also was that girl who actually stepped on a banana peel in the hallway and, embarrassingly enough, stepped on it on the way back,” she said.

But an awkward youth is what made her a strong person. She took up modelling at 16 to raise funds at a church basement fashion show to help build houses for an orphanage in Mexico. Someone recommended she find an agency and Erdmann was picked up.

Her agency suggested she enter a beauty pageant and because she was not a fan of the idea, she simply didn’t reply. To Erdmann’s surprise her portfolio was submitted and she won the title of Miss Alberta 2007 and Miss Global Canada 2008, the title of fourth runner up in Canada.

“From that point on I started developing my modelling skills and gaining more confidence. It might be hard to believe, but I felt like a straggly ugly duckling growing up,” she said.

It has lead to Erdmann modelling for years and not quite fitting into the mould of your stereotypical model.

She doesn’t do it to wear the latest trend, it is all about confidence.

“I feel beautiful wearing my pyjamas and sweats around and I think young girls also need to embrace that and know that they are beautiful and don’t have to wear makeup and all of that to look amazing,” Erdmann previously told the Western News.

Spending much of her time enjoying the outdoors in her youth and eight years of martial arts training also taught her discipline and confidence.

With that she faces challenges in her life head on. Ever since she was a teen she struggled with her health.

“I am continually challenged in finding the delicate balance between enjoying life and respecting my health limitations. In an odd way I am grateful for my health situation, as it has allowed me to live each day to the fullest while keeping an enlightened perspective on life,” she said.

“I keep this part of my life very private, as I want to me remembered for the things I have accomplished and not my health.”

Erdmann currently sits on the board of directors at the Okanagan College Women’s Resource Centre and tries to volunteer with other non-profits as much as she can. She has organized or participated in events such as International Women’s Day, World Day for Social Justice, Multi-Cultural Day, Take Back The Night and National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, to name a few.

“I am so passionate about helping people and giving back to our community. I am truly grateful to be living in such a beautiful place, with such a great community,” she said.

“I am very humbled to have been nominated for Penticton Top 40 Under 40 campaign.”

Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by the Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, JCI Penticton with support from Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen.  Nominations should be sent to manager@penticton.org with the subject line ‘Top 40 Nomination.’   Please include nominees contact info and a brief reason for nomination.

 

 

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