Lindsay Blatz, Manager of the SE Calgary Community Resource Centre, wants to show off the centre’s recent renovations and improvements at their Open House on June 9 from 1:00 to 6:00 PM. “Come join us,” she says, “and see what we have to offer. There will be door prizes, food and refreshments for all.”
The centre, nestled into the community of Ogden Milllcan, just off Odgen Road at 76 AVE is a warm, airy, and welcoming space. A smiling Debbie Cheeseman meets us inside the front door and takes us on a tour of the completed renovations that began late last year. They include an expanded free clothing room, and two new free-use computer labs (one upstairs and the other located downstairs for accessibility). The lab is run by Adrienne Jolly, Career and Employment Program Coordinator, and is where Jason Hancock hosts Mo’s Place – a free after-school program that helps youth succeed academically, personally & socially.
The clothing room has expanded to accept more donations of clothing and small items and hosts a ‘wish list’ for larger items such as beds, couches and fridges. Debbie has become champion at connecting people in the community with the items they need.
In addition to the renovations, a number of new programs have been developed. Nancy Lui is running the new Community Connections program, and a Neighbours Café will be opening soon, running every Tuesday from 9:30 – 11:30 am. People are encouraged to drop in with no registration required. Lindsay invites her community to “come meet your neighbours!”
The centre also offers a parenting program aimed at having fun while learning helpful parenting techniques around communication and building a child’s self-esteem. The Aboriginal Literacy and Parenting skills program has been adapted for Indigenous parents, celebrating tradition while exploring new ideas.
Other important community partners include the Knit and Natter group who meet every Wednesday from 1:00 – 3:00pm to make blankets, layettes, and sundries to be sold at the community’s annual fundraiser. Debbie relays the story of a recently joined member who, after one month, had acquired such proficiency crocheting that she’d made a full blanket.
More programming is being assembled, creating the opportunity to enjoy something new every week, with guest speakers and a play area for children. Coffee, tea and light snacks will be provided.
These programs complement the awareness of community the SE Calgary Community Resource Centre has built. Through this, the centre has assembled a host of programs and services.
Food support comes from Cobb’s Bread, the Calgary Food Bank and The Community Kitchen. Health care is provided by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, Insight Psychological provides counselling, and the Further Education Society is delivering programming for parents and children.
It takes a small army of volunteers to run the centre. Lindsay estimates there are roughly 60 people involved in various programs including Food, Clothing Room, Housekeeping, Child Care, Special Events, Office Administration, Youth Programs and Transportation.
The SE Calgary Community Resource Centre is looking to the future by ensuring that the residents of Calgary will be well served. The centre is currently processing the goods donated through the Acadia Community clean up, and hopes to receive more from the Riverbend Community after their drive on June 25.
Lindsay continues: “We are already seeing new users of this space: people who have never had to ask for help before. I anticipate that we will not see the full effects of this economic downturn until the fall of 2016. Right now, people are hanging on, using their EI benefits, or their savings. After the summer we’ll have a better view of what our new reality entails.”
The biggest challenge the centre encounters is not funding, but a lack of awareness about the depth of resources they provide. The centre is supported by sponsors, donators, and partners and several layers of government programs, which ensures capacity to accommodate changes in funding models. Lindsay notes: “Funders are stepping up, and we see lots of opportunities for additional funding in the future.”