To be involved with an Organization such as Vibrant Communities Calgary and the ‘Enough for All Strategy’ has meant many things on many levels to me both in a personal level and in a professional capacity.
I have lived in Poverty for many years and at that time I did not realize the implications of what that meant on the overall Community until I became Homeless. I studied and had conversations with my many peers and colleagues and became involved in Community Engagement. It was then I realized the deep implications that Poverty can have on individuals, families and Calgary. When I was invited to join Poverty Talks! and learned more about the E4A strategy, I soon came to the conclusion that Poverty affects many walks of life in many different capacities.
I have attended many events in the Community relating to Poverty.
- Many Voices: Conversations about Poverty
- Soul of the City 14: Poverty, Perspective and the Opportunity
- The Sliding Scale Proposal to the City of Calgary Standing Policy Committee
- The Payday Lending Proposal to Calgary City Council regarding a Bylaw for Payday Lenders not to gain a Business License within 400 metres from other Lenders operating in the same City Block
- Community Conversations: Basic Needs regarding Goal 3 from the E4A
- Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force with the City of Calgary
I have also participated and worked with the Client Action Committee of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.
- The Longest Night of the Year – The first Celebration of Life and Memorial for those in our Community who have passed while Homeless and/or living on the Streets. Interviewed with Global Calgary in regards to this event
- The Homeless Vote – Mock Election for the Homeless in Calgary to exercise their voice in the October Federal election. With the initiative, the first ever Polling Station was set-up in a Homeless Shelter in Canada
- I have been selected as a Keynote Speaker at the upcoming 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness in May of 2016
I also served on the Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force mandated by the Mayor and City Council.
- Work with other levels of governments, agencies and organizations to develop recommendations to protect financially vulnerable from payday lending practices
- Influence financial institutions to re-engage low income earners with the ability to access short term small loans, and financial counselling
There are 12 people on the task force including 3 credit unions, VCC, Momentum, Sunrise Community Link, CUPS as well as someone who represents the payday lenders. The challenge was to find some common ground and develop recommendations that will help people who find themselves in need of short term, small loans. This work is vitally important to Calgary so all in our Community can have a greater Quality of Life for ourselves, our children and Grandchildren.
As of last year in the spring, I have taken courses in Non Profit Management at Mount Royal University and I am also taking the ‘Working with Homeless Population’ at the University of Calgary. A joint collaboration with the Faculty of Social Work and The Calgary Homeless Foundation. Shortly I am going to apply to take a Social Work Diploma at Bow Valley College.
The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness is having its fourth annual national conference in November and as such I have applied for a Lived Experienced Scholarship to attend.
In conclusion, I am a driven woman, impassioned by the belief that Homelessness and Poverty will end or at least be significantly reduced in our great City. I will be there to see this happen.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” Mr. Spock – The Wrath of Khan
*Submitted and written by a grateful member of the Client Action Committee.