Today marks one year at the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) for CEO Diana Krecsy. Diana joined the Calgary Homeless Foundation as President and CEO in May 2014. Prior to working at CHF, she was the CEO of the Calgary Drug Treatment Court Society (CDTCS) from 2011-2013 and was instrumental in making sustainable changes that benefited vulnerable Calgarians. From 2005 to 2011 she was the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut. Before her years of leadership experience, Diana was a tenured nurse educator at Mount Royal University for 12 years and has practiced nursing in Alberta for over 14 years.

Here’s what Diana had to say about her past year with the Calgary Homeless Foundation:

Q: Tell us about this past year. What has it been like for you? What are you excited about?

It’s been a motivating year. I’ve learned a lot. It’s been so inspiring to see this caliber of people, working in this sector. I’ve visited multiple agencies and there is a tremendous amount of caring and competency in this city. Calgarians should be proud.

Q: What inspired you to join the Calgary Homeless Foundation?

I wanted to make an impact at a systems level. I wanted to help systems change. As a practicing nurse for 30 years I worked in the system. Eventually, I realized that to make the kind of impact that is going to be sustainable across generations, I had to work at a systems level and so I left my tenured position to pursue that. It’s led me here. I came here because it’s a huge organization with a big job. Everything we do is about these people whose lives can be better. My passion is in helping Calgarians see those experiencing homelessness for what they truly are. Real people. People whose quality of life will improve through our collective vision of ending homelessness.

Q: What were you focusing on this past year and what are you focusing on for this coming one?

The focus this past year has been on ensuring we were adding the highest degree of value to the community. It is critical that we value and support  the frontline agencies we partner and work so closely with, to ensure all of us are pushing the needle together to truly serve our clients to the best of our ability, and that meant making some changes. I knew CHF administrative processes had to shift to make it easier for agencies to spend their time focusing on the frontline, with clients. I’m incredibly proud of the frontline agencies. There are amazing frontline staff and agencies in Calgary who have a tremendous amount of talent and competence.

Calgarians were another focus over the past year and will continue to be in the future. Community is the key to truly affecting change and getting the job done.  The idea that we’re going to end homelessness doesn’t belong to one agency. It belongs to every Calgarian…there should be no bystanders in this…ending homelessness is about all of us. Ending homelessness improves the lives of individuals and families experiencing homelessness as well as every community.

Q: The Calgary Homeless Foundation works closely with the RESOLVE campaign as one of its 9 partners. Can you tell us what this partnership has looked like over the past year?

This partnership has been inspiring and has proved that collaboration is the key. The incredible thing about RESOLVE is that it is a unique partnership of agencies that are focused on achieving a goal together. We have done more work together with RESOLVE this year to serve our city’s most vulnerable, including the upcoming launch in June of two new affordable apartment buildings. We’re excited to see what we can create together to reach the goals of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness.

Q: What has the impact been on you, working this past year at the Calgary Homeless Foundation?

I’ve realized how truly fortunate I am to have been born into a family that gave me security and love. It’s not like that for everyone. Why do some people get lucky when others are born into uncertainty?  I don’t know. But what I do know is that it gives me a responsibility to be there for those who weren’t so fortunate.

Q: What are you most proud of over the past year?

There are so many things I’m proud of, in particular, the people who are so committed in this sector that they invest heart and soul into a shared vision of ending homelessness. They teach me every day the meaning of commitment, compassion and collective leadership. I’m also really proud of the work done to launch Calgary’s Updated Plan and how over 450 people came together to share and learn and grow and deepen our collective impact.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned that continually impacts you every day?

Working with so many dedicated and visionary people has taught me the value of teamwork and the power we have when we collectively work towards a goal of ending homelessness.  Their passion and talent ignites my desire to keep pushing towards our goal and to keep building lasting and sustainable social change.

Written by Darcy Mammel

*Photo credit: Cat Schick

It’s a beautiful 19 degrees in Calgary and I’m on site at Calgary’s largest yarn-bombing initiative that will celebrate two new apartment buildings being built through the RESOLVE Campaign and Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness. I’ve stopped here on my way to the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market, where I’ll get the experience of being a vendor for the day, sharing information about the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s (CHF) newest undertaking through the RESOLVE Campaign, a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians.

The yarnbombing is well underway, and as I meet up with Linda Hawke, President of the Board of This is My City Art Society (TMC), she tells me that the weather couldn’t be better. I can see flashes of colour all over the house; a rainbow of yarn has begun making its way around the four walls of the old home. A property in the Hillhurst Sunnyside community that will soon become Aurora on the Park -a 25 unit accessible, affordable housing apartment building for Calgarians exiting homelessness. But for right now, the current building on the property is TMC’s newest canvas.

Contracted by CHF to turn the existing building into a work of art for the project’s introduction into the community, Linda and her team are spending the next two weeks wrapping the house in yarn and other textiles.  When I asked her what this project means to her, she tells me, “The yarn bombing is a great example of what This is My City is all about: art bringing people together…People see the colourful afghans going up on the house and they stop in and ask about what’s going on. Art brings them in. Artists and volunteers from all walks of life are working together to make the house look amazing, each bringing their own ideas and expressions; each getting something out of it personally.”

Yarn donations have been collected from all over different communities and will become part of the artwork that graces the old home.  On June 9th, CHF will officially introduce Aurora on the Park to the community at a kick-off event open to the public. Aurora on the Park was made possible through funding from the Government of Alberta and StreetSide Developments: A Qualico Company who are one of 11 homebuilders working with CHF through the RESOLVE Campaign to end homelessness in Calgary. Along with the Government of Alberta, the home builders have committed funding to build 8 affordable housing apartment buildings throughout Calgary over the next 3 years.

Leaving Linda and her team to exercise their creative muscles, I set up camp at the Sunnyside Hillhurst community centre’s Farmers’ Market. The farmers’ market is outdoor for the first time this season, complete with a band and food trucks. The sun is shining and people are out in full force, reveling in the vendors and music. I spent the next four hours with the community’s residents, introducing the CHF’s newest project. News of the Aurora on the Park was received with a welcoming chorus of encouragement and then, as I explain TMC’s work, fascination with the art of yarn bombing.

When one little boy asks me why I’m not selling anything I explain that I’m just here to share with people what we do. When he asks me why, I explain that I work for an organization that helps people who don’t have homes, find them. He pauses for a moment and frowns. Sneaking a glance up at his mother, he offers his bedroom up as a place for someone to stay so that they can have a home too. The mother stifles a laugh as I grin. Before his mother leads him away he asks me to make sure we find homes for people so that they don’t have to be sad. Out of the mouth of babes…

When the market wound to a close I couldn’t help but think about what Linda said about the power of art. “Everybody comes together through art and at the centre of it all, people interact with each other to create, enjoy, share…and in the process they feel a little more connected to this big community we all share.”

Aurora on the Park will be unveiled on June 9th at 3 p.m.

Contact Aaron G. for more information – 403-237.6456

On June 9th, 2015 the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), in collaboration with This is My City Art Society (TMC), will unveil Calgary’s largest yarn bombing as a kickoff to celebrate the beginning of its newest affordable housing build, and we need your help!

CHF has purchased a home that has been slated for demolition; in its place, a brand new, fully accessible apartment building will be built and become home for 25 Calgarians exiting homelessness. In partnership with TMC, the existing house will be transformed into a work of art before being torn down. This work of art will be Calgary’s largest yarn bombing and the entire structure will be wrapped with hand knitting and crocheted pieces, symbolic of the comfort of home. This is where you come in! We are collecting any used or unwanted hand knit/crocheted clothing or blankets to use towards wrapping the house. Every little bit helps. Items donated will be re-purposed and used towards future endeavours at CHF.

Construction of Aurora on the Park was made possible through funding from the Government of Alberta, and local Calgary Home Builder, StreetSide Developments: A Qualico Company, as part of the RESOLVE Campaign.

We will be collecting donations at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers’ Market on Wednesday May 20th from 3pm-7pm, or donations may be dropped off at the Calgary Homeless Foundation until May 19.

In April of 2014, the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), invited This is My City Art Society (TMC), to help create a launch event for the kick-off to the building of Stepping Stone Manor in the Beltline. The event brought community together and included giant photos of members of the community being affixed to the house prior to its demolition.

Stepping Stone Manor is one of 8 25 – 30 suite apartment buildings for formerly homeless Calgarians that the CHF is building over the next few years. It is made possible through funding from the Government of Alberta and Cedarglen Living as part of the RESOLVE Campaign, a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians.

As part of this year’s This is My City Festival, CHF and TMC invite you to join them at the exhibit of Possibilities in the Wind: An Artful Partnership. This exhibit showcases the transformation of the rundown rooming house that was on the property into a vibrant work of art – its last hurrah before demolition to make way for Stepping Stone Manor. Many community members worked together – and we celebrate them and their work! Come and learn more Possibilities in the Wind: An Artful Partnership and about the work being done to end homelessness through our collective impact.

EXHIBIT:   Saturday, April 11th   to   Saturday, April 25th 

Opening reception April 11th from 2:30pm to 5:00pm  Open to everyone

Formal presentation at 3pm.

U-HALL Gallery at TRUCK
2009 10 Ave SW


Learn more about the This is My City Festival

Getting nine social service agencies to collaborate on a capital campaign is no easy task. Yet, that’s exactly what the RESOLVE Campaign has achieved. Thanks in part to visionary Calgarians such as RESOLVE Chair, Alan Norris, who along with a Steering Committee of philanthropic Calgarians is leading the Campaign and lending their brilliance to make it happen, and the agency CEOs and staff who have rallied around the shared vision of raising funds to ensure 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians have a home, RESOLVE is making a difference.

RESOLVE is a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians. Recently, Sharon deBoer, Director of Development at CHF sat down with RESOLVE Executive Director, Sheryl Barlage to talk about the campaign.

Here’s what Sheryl had to say:

Q.        What has been the biggest highlight of the RESOLVE campaign to date?

Proving that collaboration can work. Our Partners and volunteers are doing amazing work in our city – they are enthusiastic, passionate and committed to helping Calgary’s most vulnerable. Having the opportunity to work with nine respected and visionary agencies, and 39 influential leaders in the community is inspiring. It is definitely a privilege to be a part of the Campaign.

Q.         What are you most excited about in 2015?

While we’re still in the quiet phase of the fundraising, I’m looking forward to taking RESOLVE to new levels in 2015.  So far, we’ve raised enough money to provide 915 vulnerable Calgarians with keys to have a safe place to call home. In 2015, we’ll be able to provide homes for even more people in need.

Q.         What inspired you to get involved with RESOLVE?

The challenge and impact of collaboration.  The audacious goal.  The transformational change that RESOLVE is leaving as a legacy in how we work and live as a community. I truly believe that everyone deserves a home.  Homelessness can impact you, or me, or those that we know. As a person in Calgary who is fortunate to have a network of support, it is rewarding to see everyone build that through housing first. And homes to build that foundation are critical.   No matter what challenges people face – limited mobility, living on fixed or low income, addiction, domestic violence, incarceration, mental illness – they deserve to have a safe, affordable and supported home so they can address these issues.

Right now in Calgary there is an acute shortage of affordable housing. With the constant influx of people and a lack of affordable housing, there are 3,500 Calgarians who are currently homeless and another 14,000 households who are just one paycheque away from joining them. I’d like to walk down the street, take transit, go shopping, meet at the bank, and visit in our community with people of all walks in life.  Let’s remove the invisibility some of our most vulnerable and marginalized people face.  That is what makes our community vital and healthy.

What would you say about the RESOLVE team?

This team is the most committed, skilled, caring and focused group of individuals I have ever worked with.  Everyone here has a connection to our cause and brings their heart and head to solving homelessness through raising $120 Million. This is a group of people who truly believe in the work of our Partners and, in turn, the work we’re doing to help them better serve our most vulnerable citizens. With RESOLVE being the first Campaign of its kind in Canada, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to the number of people and organizations involved. We’re creating new best practices and forging a path.  But RESOLVE staff are always up for the challenge.

 For more about the RESOLVE Campaign, please visit their website. 


Interview by:  Sharon deBoer, Director of Development, CHF