Calgary Homeless Foundation is pleased to announce our partnership with SkipTheDepot, a door-to-door bottle collection service that makes refundable recycling and donating to our organization easy.

How It Works

SkipTheDepot picks up your empty bottles and cans and donates 100% of your returns to Calgary Homeless Foundation, so every dollar of your recycling goes towards the fight against homelessness. To get started:

  1. Visit the web app,, to donate your returns to Calgary Homeless Foundation automatically, or download SkipTheDepot app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Place your garbage bags outside.
  3. SkipTheDepot picks up the bags, and Calgary Homeless Foundation receives your donation! (We will issue a tax receipt to you if the amount is $20 and above.)

Why We’re Excited

Over 1200 organizations in Calgary and more than $966,747.73 have been donated through SkipTheDepot. When you recycle with SkipTheDepot and Calgary Homeless Foundation, you are helping the environment and supporting people experiencing homelessness in our city.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

How many cans and bottles can I donate?

A minimum of 150 containers, or two bags worth.

How do I pack them?

No need to sort bottles from cans. Just put everything into garbage bags. (No boxes, please!)

How do I schedule a pick-up from my home?

Visit the web app,, or download SkipTheDepot from the App Store or Google Play.

Enter your address, your desired pick-up date, and select Calgary Homeless Foundation from the list of organizations in the donations section. Use the comments section to give any specific instructions for the driver. (Example: call this number when arriving; bags are alongside fence; please pick up at a particular time).

On the scheduled day of your pickup, place your bags outside in a secure location by 8 am. The driver will pick up your bags between 8 am and 5 pm, label them, and take them to SkipTheDepot’s counting facility.

If you live in an apartment or condo, SkipTheDepot just needs access to your building’s recycling room. Let your building management company know you’re interested in the service.

Can I drop my bottles and cans off to SkipTheDepot?

Yes. Simply find the closest Drop&Go location in the app or website (it’s marked on the map).

Write your 4-digit customer ID on all your bags and head over to the Drop&Go location. Use the app or website to snap a quick picture of your bags and drop the bags into the designated area. SkipTheDepot will count your bags and even show you what they counted!

To learn more, visit

With tears, flowers, and a song for a friend who can no longer be found, Calgarians gathered on a cold morning on October 13, 2021 for a reflective ceremony marking the installation of the city’s first and only permanent homeless memorial.

“We have monuments all over the city to the rich and powerful. I’m really pleased we now have a memorial to those who are most marginalized and who have lost their lives being marginalized,” said Counsellor Evan Woolley in an emotional tribute to those who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness in Calgary.

The memorial, located at 107 13 Ave SE, is the culmination of a three-year collaboration between the Client Action Committee, Calgary Homeless Foundation, University of Calgary, and the City of Calgary, with the support of Canadian Artists Against Poverty, and homeless-serving agencies in the city. It was created after Calgarians experiencing homelessness expressed a need for a permanent place to remember their family and friends who lost their lives while not having a home.

In the ceremony’s introduction, Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, noted the humanity of those who had lost their lives. “It is important to remember that the people honoured today are more than a ‘number’: they were mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and friends of someone who loved them,” she said.

Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Client Action Committee (CAC)—a group composed of people with lived or living experience of homelessness—recognized the need for a permanent memorial site through their coordination of the annual Longest Night of the Year city-wide homeless memorial service.

In 2018, the CAC approached Dr. Jessica Shaw, who was researching end-of-life care for people experiencing homelessness at the University of Calgary. Together, they started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds. Calgary Homeless Foundation assisted as a funder and Councillor Evan Woolley, a former Board Member with Calgary Homeless Foundation, championed the memorial with the City of Calgary, securing the site.

Three years later, in September 2021, the memorial was installed. The memorial, designed and constructed by artists who have lived or living experiences of homelessness or poverty, has three features, notably a bronze backpack on a pillar, etched with the words: “In this space, we remember and honour our neighbours, family, and friends—known and unknown—who have lived and died because of the traumas of homelessness. In past, present, and future—may they rest in power.”

The memorial also has a bench free of barriers for someone to lay down and two pillars painted with a mural embedded with phone chargers. All parts of the monument had input from people with connections to Calgary’s homeless community.

By the end of the morning, the bronze backpack, modelled after one that was carried by a member of Calgary’s homeless community for over a decade, was blanketed in fresh flowers. On the ground around the statue, messages had been left in chalk: “For Max,” “More than a number,” and “for all those who deserve more.”

“I want to one day bring my child here and tell her that it exists because we used to lose someone every three days in Calgary [to homelessness],” said Dr. Shaw.

Until then, the memorial serves as a quiet place for reflection, and as a reminder, said Patricia Jones, that the fight against homelessness is worth all of us getting in the ring for.

View the program here:

Click here for the photo gallery.

In the news:

In recognition of World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day, Calgary Homeless Foundation is celebrating the success of a unique partnership in the city’s homeless-serving sector that pairs people experiencing homelessness with virtual or in-person mental health supports.

Mental health challenges can pose a barrier to obtaining and keeping a home, and the experience of homelessness can exacerbate a person’s mental health issues. According to The Mental Health Commission of Canada, between 25-50% of the homeless population in Canada suffer from a mental illness. On average, about three-quarters of those on our triage list awaiting housing have identified mental health concerns.

Calgary’s homeless-serving sector is doing its part to address these challenges. From March to September 2021, people experiencing homelessness attended 403 individual counselling sessions as part of the Rapid Care Counselling pilot. Of those 403, 88 (22%) were virtual, while the remaining 315 were conducted in-person at 17 different agencies in Calgary.

The pilot, launched earlier this year in February, is an innovative collaboration between Calgary Homeless Foundation, CUPS, and Catholic Family Service (CFS) that responds to the growing need for mental health supports during the pandemic.

Both CFS and CUPS have an established track record of offering mental health services to people experiencing homelessness through the CFS Rapid Care Access Counselling program and CUPS Shared Care Mental Health program.

Under the pilot, people who are at risk of homelessness or who are living without a home in shelters or supportive housing connect with a qualified CFS counsellor within three business days.

During their initial session, participants receive a care plan that may include future sessions, community supports, or referrals to long-term mental health supports with CUPS Shared Care Mental Health counsellors. Since the start of the pilot, 82 participants have moved past their initial session with CFS counsellors to attend an additional session with CUPS.

At the time of the launch, Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, described the pilot as “the first step in connecting the health, housing, and homelessness sectors together and addressing the systemic issues contributing to someone’s experience of homelessness.”

In a recent Family Service Canada newsletter, a participant of the pilot said, “The session was extremely helpful. I achieved the mindset I was looking for.” Another participant noted, “I feel more confident about my plans for the future.”

Calgary Homeless Foundation looks forward to continuing this vital service for children, youth, adults, and families as they navigate through their mental health and housing challenges.


You joined the team at Calgary Homeless Foundation, or CHF, during a transformational time. Can you share your personal journey, including what inspired you to lead the team at CHF? 

Transitioning from a 27-year career in family service was not a decision I made lightly, but I was inspired by the work of CHF and the opportunity to impact those most vulnerable at a system level. Although I have been in the nonprofit sector for many years, I hadn’t had very much experience serving those experiencing homelessness. I have been grateful for the challenge and the learning. 

As you reflect on this past year, what accomplishments are you most proud of and what are your key learnings? 

Wow, the year went so fast! What am I most proud of? Some days, just getting through and understanding the acronyms! In all seriousness, I am proud of getting to know the work of the teams and the people on them (virtually), working together with community to develop a clear purpose and ambition, and, within the year, delivering our updated strategic plan, Focus to 2025. 

I am grateful to have met each CEO in our system of care, and I continue to learn from them. I am grateful for the relationships developed with the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada.   

One key learning is the depth and breadth of expertise in our community, which has a deep understanding that ‘one size does NOT fit all’ with human beings. The continuum of supports for those experiencing homelessness—from paying a damage deposit, liaising with the health system, palliative care, helping someone stabilize for a short period of time, and then getting back out there, to those who need intense longer-term supports to be housed—is truly inspiring.   

I strongly believe that as a community, it is not OK that someone does not have a home. It is our collective responsibility to lift up our neighbors, and the Coordinated Access and Assessment approach—with 23 agencies meeting weekly with us to ensure everyone has a home and a barrier-free, humane experience in reaching it—is collaboration and partnership at is finest. 

Why is guiding the fight against homelessness meaningful to you? 

Every word in our purpose was carefully chosen and the result of over 75 conversations with the board, staff, and the community at large.  

“Fight” is a strong word, and intentionally so, as I believe some fights are worth entering into. Fighting against the concept called “homelessness” is an honourable fight, because we do not want anyone to experience it as part of this journey we call life.  

This purpose comes alive ONLY through collaboration with many people, as a result of conversations and relationships built through trust. CHF is a participant in a much bigger system and the word ‘guiding’ was very intentional, conjuring up for me the visual of a wise mountain guide, leading the way, who has a deep grasp of the complicating factors that impact someone without a home. With this knowledge and earned relationships in the community, we hope to add value by identifying what works and what doesn’t in support of all Calgarians finding their way home. 

As we look ahead to the upcoming year and beyond, what are your primary areas of focus? How will this have an impact on those at risk of or experiencing homelessness? All Calgarians? 

We are excited to launch our strategic plan to September 2025 and to work together with the community to continue allocating resources for the highest impact and outcomes. We pair this action with an appetite for out-of-the-box thinking so we can continue to improve access and outcomes for those who are often in the darkest moments of their lives.   

We continue to reach out, listen to and learn from Indigenous leaders so we can offer our support for an Indigenous-centric homeless serving system of care, and we will continue to co-create with community an evaluation and learning culture through a recovery lens. 

Do you have anything more that you would like to share?  

Throughout the past year, I’ve asked myself more than once, “What was I thinking, leaving a secure job in the middle of a pandemic to enter into a world in which I knew very little?” But the work of CHF, the high competency of staff, their absolute commitment to every Calgarian finding their way home with the supports they need, and the privilege of a system-level view compelled me to join this amazing organization. I was not leaving my job, but rather going to something very exciting. It has been a pleasure and a privilege and I would not have missed it for the world.   

I am grateful for the CHF board, the depth and expertise of each CHF staff member, our government partners, health partners, our housing partner Homespace Society, and the non-profit community for their generosity and kindness to me in the past year and their willingness to work together for a world in which homelessness may be an unfortunate experience in one’s life but never the enduring feature. 

It is with profound sorrow that we must again bear witness to the ongoing tragedy affecting our Indigenous peoples. The latest news from Saskatchewan shared by Cowessess First Nation upon confirmation of 751 unmarked graves near Marieval Residential School continues to challenge us, as Canadians, to confront the dark side of our past.  We have a long way to go to fully understand the deep impact of the residential school system on Indigenous communities.  

As I reflect on the work we do with our community partners in support of vulnerable populations and, in particular, of individuals of Indigenous ancestry, I am reminded of the importance of conducting our work with compassion and humility.    

As a mother, aunt, sister and daughter I literally cannot comprehend the experience of a parent having a child ripped from their home never to return again.  

We all know there is a long way to go and we are strongly committed to our ambition to promote the reconciliation necessary to break down barriers by giving, receiving, listening and reaching out in love.  

I am so glad that our strategy names “reaching out in love,” because this has never been so needed. 

-Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation


Support is available: 

  • Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary: 403-801-7482. Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary’s Elder line is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. for individuals in need of support.  
Innovation-TogetherSubmitted by: Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation and Karen Young, President and CEO, United Way of Calgary and Area.

Over a year into the pandemic, more people are seeking help from the social sector than ever before. According to Distress Centre Calgary, suicide-related crisis contacts were up 41 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, while over 2,900 people in Calgary are without a home on any given night. With sinking revenues and increasing demand, 78 per cent of charities are turning to innovation to better reach clients and achieve their missions.

For those of us working in the social sector, Canadian Innovation Week reminds us that we need to stay open to experimentation if we want to help those we serve. Innovation doesn’t come with a master plan or a polished strategy. More often than not, it is a set of seemingly random activities that develop into something greater and more permanent, because people and organizations are willing to try things out together.

United Way of Calgary and Area, for example, has created a community impact framework based on research, agency collaboration and feedback, as well as partnerships that arose in an impromptu fashion during the pandemic. This framework will improve the system of care in Calgary by generating more resources for big-picture initiatives, and providing better access to services and supports for people most at risk.

Rapid Care Counselling was a pre-existing program funded by United Way, among others, that included counselling from Catholic Family Service, an agency United Way has been funding for over 40 years. During the pandemic, and as part of the city’s new mental health and addictions strategy, Calgary Homeless Foundation adapted the program with the help of key agency partners to best serve those experiencing homelessness. Sometimes, being able to book a counselling appointment at 3 a.m. can be enough to help you hang on, and this program allows people experiencing homelessness to meet with a counsellor — online or in-person — within three days.

United Way’s AdaptiveYYC, which won the New Normal Ninja award in April 2021 for innovation during the pandemic, is an app that delivers free workplace mental well-being training to organizations who need the support — including agencies on the front-lines — to respond to the pandemic with resilience.

COVID-19 has created more willingness and urgency to test new ideas, and this past year has been rich with projects that demonstrate this new attitude. In March 2020, Calgary Homeless Foundation — with government, HomeSpace Society, The Alex and CUPS — launched the Assisted Self-Isolation Hotel, a 100-unit facility that allowed people experiencing homelessness to self-isolate. From March 2020 and February of this year, 212 individuals and families living at the site have since found their way home.

In partnership with the Ministry of Seniors and Housing and community leaders, United Way is also bringing community-based, senior-serving organizations together around a common vision of healthy aging in the community, and to help seniors live in their own homes as long as possible. Seniors have been greatly impacted during the pandemic, often isolated and without access to critical supports. Healthy Aging CORE Alberta is an online knowledge and learning hub that supports the bigger objectives of the initiative, galvanizing co-operation and co-ordination to enhance the health and well-being of Albertan seniors.

This is only a small snapshot of the work being done. Now more than ever, the social sector has stepped up to find new and powerful ways of working together for shared outcomes, enabling people in need to continue finding the supports and services for their well-being. For those of us working in the social sector, remember: our community needs us. Let’s not worry about who is doing what. Let’s roll up our sleeves to get the work done, for everyone.

Originally published on 05/20/2021 by the Calgary Herald.