Time to say good-bye.

Today is my last day at the Foundation where I have worked for the past 4+ years.

It is time to say good-bye.

I am sad. I am excited.

Both emotions co-exist in a field of possibility that opens up whenever we begin to step through a portal from one threshold to the next.

Life will change. It will keep flowing. It will adapt. Fill in the spaces behind. Open up the spaces in front.

And I move on. Along. Through. Stepping across this threshold into a new space.

The unknown beckons. The known is carried with me.

For 4+ years I have worked alongside incredibly talented and passionate people. In that time, people have changed, moved on, moved into the Foundation. Yet, no matter the faces at the table, the passion and commitment to ending homelessness has remained constant.

It has been 4 years of growth, of learning new things, of stretching my talents and gifts, of stretching my capacity to lead, to inspire, to collaborate, to share, to listen, to step back, to step forward.

It has been 4 years of being inspired by those I work with, for and amongst. Of building community where every voice matters, of working within a community where every act counts and is valued.

I move on and already the space I held is being filled in by the passion, talent, commitment and brilliance of those who remain.

It is what I love most about this point in time where I stand at the edge of the doorway leading into a new portal. Behind me are the infinite possibilities of change, just as there are before me. Where I stood can never remain the same. It is physically impossibly. As it changes and as I step out of it, it becomes part of the changing spaces behind me that others are creating through illuminating it with their brilliance and passion.  The possibilities of what they can do and create are limitless.

The spaces I move into have been created by others just as committed, just as brilliant in their passion to end homelessness. As I move into that new space, it too will be changed as we find our way together to create a space that is illuminated by our different voices, ideas, passion and creativity.  Informed by the past. Steeped in limitless possibility.

And so life continues.

We move from one space to another, leaving behind the possibilities of change for others to pick up, creating in front of us new possibilities for change for us to enter into.

I have been so incredibly honoured and blessed to work with amazing people. To Andrea, Kayleigh, Aaron, Wendy, Sharon B., Paul, Darcy, Kelsey, Joel, Ben, Sharon D., Teresa, Kara, over the years you have all played a role in creating an amazing space to be a part of and to work within. You have all touched my heart and made a difference in my life.  I carry you with me.

Throughout my tenure at CHF I have worked alongside incredible leadership. John R., Gerrad, Diana, thank you for sharing your brilliance.

To the team at CHF. WOW!  Your passion, commitment, willingness to learn and adapt and take risk to create better continually inspires me to do the same. Thank you.

To the CAC, your courage, commitment, humility and honesty have touched my heart deeply.

I am stepping through one doorway into the next today.

I am excited. I am sad. I am grateful.


CHF Homecoming Party: Opening doors for The 3200

It was heartfelt, heart-warming and heart engaging. The Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Homecoming Party happened last night and it blew the doors right off their hinges! What a night!

There were tears and laughter and sharing of stories and dreams and hopes for a better future. There were people committed to making a difference. Committed to making sure Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness has the right framework, right resources, right focus and right people to get the job done.

And there was music.

Aaron Pollock is a young singer/songwriter who believes through music, he makes a difference. And he’s right! At a backyard BBQ during the summer, he met CHF CEO Diana Krecsy and together they talked about the power of music to create change, to drive up awareness.

Aaron offered to write a song about homelessness and what it means to be without a home and what happens when you come home.

Diana welcomed his offer and the rest, as they say, is history.

Last night, Aaron Pollock debuted his beautiful ballad, Blue Skies Don’t Break, to an audience of enthusiastic folk who came out to support CHF’s Homecoming Party. He now has over 150 new fans.

Heartfelt and heartbreaking, Blue Skies Don’t Break reminds each of us that no matter how dark the path, the sky above is always there, opening up new vistas, new ways, new possibilities.

This is not the time to give into playing Chicken Little in fear of the sky falling. This is the time to believe in our capacity to end homelessness. This is the time to get busy, stay committed and keep forging ahead in our quest to create homecomings for The 3200.

The 3200. That’s the number of homes we know are needed over the next 2 and a bit years to end homelessness for those who are trapped in long term use of emergency shelters or sleeping rough.

And last night, we took another step forward to opening those doors.

As Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi, the director of the documentary Do You See Me? which was featured at the Homecoming Party, so eloquently said in his comments after the film was shown, we are all one body and when one of us hurts, or one of us falls, or one of us is trapped in homelessness, we all hurt, we all fall, we are all trapped together.

And as everyone said after the film was shown, after MLA Craig Coolahan introduced the video message from our Premier Rachel Notley, after Aaron shared his gift of song and songwriting, and after CEO Diana Krecsy wrapped up the formal part of the evening; we can stop the hurt, we can stop the falls, we can release people from the things that trap them in homelessness, together. Because, together, we will end homelessness.

I am grateful to work with an organization and community that is committed and passionate about creating possibilities for a better quality of life for every Calgarian.

I am grateful for people like Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi and Aaron Pollock who share their talents to make ending homelessness possible. And I am grateful to live in a city that cares. A city that believes anything is possible when we work together.

I am grateful for Lindsey and his team at Civic on Third for creating such a welcoming space for the Homecoming Party and for the sponsors who helped make the evening possible.

And I am really grateful for people like Sharon deBoer, Ben Crews, Alison Duff, Kelsey Shea and Darcy Halber. They made the Homecoming Party possible. And they did it with grace and ease!




Keys to Recovery: Unlocking the Potential

Karen Crowther is compassionate, dedicated, fiercely loyal and determined. She gives her whole heart and being to creating success for her organization, her staff, and the people they serve. And in return, her staff, the people they serve and the communities within which they live and work love her back.

Karen is the Executive Director of Keys to Recovery and as Broadcaster, Performer and last night’s Emcee Jonathan Love said at the Keys to Recovery (Keys) Unlocking the Potential fund-raiser C.C. and I attended, “There’s a lot of love in this room. I can feel it.”

It’s true.

There was Love. And… passion, commitment, a fierce conviction that we can make a difference. A deep understanding of what it takes to do that and a belief that everyone deserves a second, third, even fourth chance to change their lives. No one is hopeless.

Keys fills a unique niche in the homeless serving system of care in Calgary. They provide housing with supports to formerly homeless Calgarians who would otherwise be discharged from successful completion of rehab back to the streets.

It can be a vicious cycle.

Imagine. An individual knows what they are doing is not working for them. They want to get clean and sober and make the scary, yet liberating decision, to go to rehab. After treatment, they are sober, have the tools to continue their sobriety but, the one thing that is the same, is the lack of housing that contributed to their homelessness, and their addiction, in the first place.

Without Keys, they would be returning to an emergency shelter, or the street, with little support to maintain their sobriety and thus, change their lives.

Keys provides that support. They wrap a person in compassionate care, providing both housing and structure to support them in their efforts to retain sobriety and create a new life for themselves and their families.

Gabriel Chen, the keynote speaker last night shared a powerful and inspiring message of what is possible if we imagine a different way.

Gabriel knows. He is a lawyer whose client base is entirely made up of individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the first story Gabriel shared, “Mary” found herself homeless and, feeling defeated, gave into the lure of drugs to numb her from the dark reality of the life she was experiencing. Eventually, she knew she had to do something different, went to Rehab and got a place of her own and was working on her sobriety. But she was on her own, struggling every day to make ends meet and to retain her sobriety. One day, she got picked up on a misdemeanor and when the police ran her name through ‘the system’ it was determined she had some outstanding warrants from when she was using drugs and stole some food and got caught. She was sent to the Remand Centre and attempted to call Gabriel. Except, she was only allowed one call a day and the phone at the Remand does not allow the caller to leave messages. It was a week before she reached Gabriel when he happened to be at his desk. By then, she was terrified of losing her apartment and told Gabriel to plead guilty on her behalf.

She lost her apartment anyway, Gabriel shared and because he was brought into the cycle after she’d already represented herself at her bail hearing, he could not change the course of her journey. She ended up with a criminal record which, upon release, impeded her ability to get a job, an apartment, go back to school or to make any constructive changes in her life.

And the cycle continued.

Imagine instead, asked Gabriel, if Mary was supported throughout her journey. That upon exiting rehab and being immediately housed with supports, she chose to work with her Case Manager to clean up the outstanding warrants before they created more trouble in her life.

Imagine if Gabriel was able to stand before the Court to plead on Mary’s behalf, before the judicial process kicked into high gear with its judgements and criminalization of homelessness and addictions.

Imagine if he could have demonstrated to both the Judge and the Prosecutor that Mary was maintaining her sobriety, was going back to school and had support to change the course of her life.

Imagine that the judiciary were aware of Keys and respected and supported the work they were doing in the community to end homelessness.

Imagine if…

Keys to Recovery makes this possible, Gabriel said.

It’s true.


Keys to Recovery plays a vital role in Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness. Every Calgarian has a role to play — the board members of Keys who were all present last night, the volunteers who helped organize the event like my dear friend Wendy C., and the people who came out to support Keys in their inaugural fund-raiser like Diana Krecsy, President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, all made a difference.  You can too. Check out the Plan and see where you fit. (Action Step No. 14 is a great one for every Calgarian) Let’s take action! Together. We can end homelessness in Calgary.




I heart home: ending homelessness


In her opening remarks, the Honourable Teresa Woo-Paw, MLA for Calgary-Northern Hills and Associate Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, identified three words that are deadly to social change.

Can’t. Never. Impossible.

Ending homelessness deserves better than our negativity.

It deserves our best.

Those three words need to be changed, to reframed, be transformed to ensure we never lose sight of our goal of ending homelessness. It’s important for everyone.

Yesterday, 450 people came together to hear and talk and explore our best.

Yesterday, when Calgary’s Updated Plan to End Homelessness was launched, 450 people stood up and said, count me in.

We can do this.

We will always hold the vision, together.

When we work together, everything is possible.

At the launch, we shared the ‘what’ that community identified to make it happen through a year and a half of consultations and over 800 comments from community on what they saw, believed, knew needed to be done.

Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, the backbone agency charged with ensuring the Plan continues to move forward and realize its vision, stated in her review of how we got here to this moment today, “In 2008 we believed in the vision. In 2011 we understood a lot more about homelessness in Calgary than we had when we began. Today, we know. We know what’s working and what’s not. And we know we have to do this together, as a community.”

In 2008 (when the plan was launched) there wasn’t a lot of coordination between agencies, or a lot of information sharing. In fact, there was no shared database of who’s who in the system of care, who was receiving service from what agency and where the duplications existed. Today, there is a common information system (Homeless Management Information System). There is coordination and collaboration throughout the system of care.

In 2011, there was a deep understanding of the complexities of homelessness and the need for supports when housing someone directly from the streets. And, there was a deeper understanding of what it was going to take to get the job done.

In 2015, everyone knows it can be done — as long as we work together. As long as we share the vision. As long as we each do our part to make it happen. Not just those working in the sector, but every Calgarian along with government on all levels, faith groups, community associations, individual Calgarians. Everyone.

Yesterday, we presented the Updated Plan and what still needs to be done to end homelessness.

Now, it’s time to get down to the ‘how’.

How am I going to contribute?

How am I going to make a difference?

How am I going to add my voice to the vision of ending homelessness?

There are hundreds of ways each of us can contribute. Whether we live in Calgary or another city somewhere in Canada or anywhere in the world, we can, and we must, do whatever it takes to ensure we remove the less out of homeless so that everyone can find their way home.

As part of the launch, we introduced the idea of “I Heart Home”. In the case of Calgary, “I heart home YYC”. But it could be any centre, any town, anywhere.

No one can argue with home. The value of having one. The need of knowing you’ve got one to come home to. The desire to ensure your children have one. The desire to help your neighbours have one too.

In launching the Updated Plan, we embedded our collective need to understand what home means to each of us at the centre of our work.

So, here’s your invitation. Watch the video, I Heart Home YYC, and, take a video/photo of you, calling out, I heart home because…. and add your voice. And then, share on your social media platforms. Twitter. Instagram. Youtube. Blog..

You’ve be making a difference and you’ll be joining the movement.  Thank you!