Do something that counts

Mon, Mar 13 2017


Volunteer. Accountant. Altruist.

Weather in March in Edmonton is unpredictable. Sometimes winter's grip tightens on the city, and while many of us stay cozy inside our warm homes, there are others who are not so lucky.

For five frigid March nights, Ellisha Sharma was one of them. She didn't have a roof over her head. No money. No phone. No communication with her family. The experience tested her mettle and solidified her passion for helping the less fortunate.

“I didn’t know as much about youth homelessness as I do now,” she says.

After an eye-opening visit to Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) to meet youths affected by homelessness, Ellisha and other MacEwan student volunteers spent five nights without a roof over their heads—while continuing to go to all of their classes.

“ Affordable and social housing ... ensures opportunities for all individuals to improve their economic situation and contribute to their communities.” 

When the temperature dipped to -30℃ one night, Ellisha was just about done. But she managed to survive the experience—and did it again the following year, too. “More than anything else, it has made me a lot more empathetic when I see someone outside. I feel connected to what they’re going through.”

After earning her Chartered Professional Accountant designation, Ellisha searched for a board position with one of Edmonton’s homeless shelters and affordable housing centres, but ended up landing a position at Edmonton’s largest social housing provider—proving that accounting is more than numbers and spreadsheets.

As senior financial analyst at Capital Region Housing Corporation, which helps more than 25,000 people in the Edmonton area live in homes they can afford, Ellisha uses her skills to find more efficient ways to help people. Recently, she helped with Homeward Trust Edmonton’s Homeless Count, an effort to understand and reduce homelessness in the city.

“Youth homelessness hits home for me in a different way than other causes,” she says. After completing the Five Days challenge, a few friends confided that they had struggled with the same experience—for real. “I’ve been involved with other causes too, but this one is special because of how it’s impacted my friends. Affordable and social housing can impact someone’s life in such a positive way as it ensures opportunities for all individuals to improve their economic situation and contribute to their communities.”

Ellisha Sharma is an accounting major alumna of the Bachelor of Commerce program. Learn more at