Tag Archives: Paul Long

Listen to this!

Awhile ago, my team and I at the Foundation where I work, developed a short video about ending homelessness.

Our purpose was very clear — we wanted to inspire people, motivate them and engage them to think about homelessness not as the story of an individual who has made ‘bad’ choices, but as a societal issue that we have the capacity and power to change — when we work together.

When I was meeting with the production company to discuss talent for the video, as in– who should be ‘the voice’, I suggested a young man I’d met at a concert produced by the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre.

Jordan Williams is a talented, compassionate and passionate young musician. He infuses everything he does with the stories and experiences he’s gathered as a young Aboriginal man who has faced homelessness, discrimination and other hard times and allowed the circumstances of his life to forge  him into a kinder, more caring and thoughtful human being.

 

Jordan Williams shared his voice with us so we could create a video that awoke people to the possibility that they can play a role in ending homelessness.

Thank you Jordan for your heartfelt and enthusiastic commitment to making this project into a reality.

Thanks also to the crew at Foundry Communications for guiding this project into reality. To Paul Long for writing an awesome script and to the team at Six Degrees Music & Production for the awesome sound work — and for creating a space for everyone to feel right at home in the studio!

Want to play a part in ending homelessness?  Here are some ideas on how to get involved.

Volunteer. Emergency shelters are always looking for people to serve meals, sort donations, help clean. Check out Propellus (Volunteer Calgary)– or a similar organization in your area, to find out ways to volunteer, or, contact an agency directly.

Donate. Canada Helps is a great site to find charitable organizations in your area to help you match your passions to your giving.

Create — it’s easy to create/host an event that will raise funds for an organization. At the Calgary Homeless Foundation we have the Dinner Party — invite a group of friends for dinner and make a difference. We provide an entire toolkit on how to get the dinner on the table while inspiring your friends to dig into good companionship, conversation, great food and the art of making a difference.

Be a Social Media magnet — like the FB page of an agency you’re committed to helping. Share their posts on your social media so your network can connect with their network and… make magic (aka change) happen.

Heed the call–visit the Calgary Homeless Foundation FB page, watch the short video Homelessness Doesn’t Stand a Chance, click on Like, and SHARE! (you’ll have to scroll down three or four posts to find the video — it’s pinned so will always be near the top)

There’s a whole lot of gratitude and thankfulness coming your way!

Thank you!

 

The Gift Project

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“I’ve been sober 18 months!” 

It is the first thing she says to me when I see her. I haven’t seen her in at least 4 years. Not since I worked at the emergency shelter.

I barely recognize her. I am thrilled to see she is alive.

We share a big hug.

Her eyes are clear. She’s grounded. Smiling.

She’s living independently in her own apartment with support from Keys to Recovery. Keys provides housing and supports to individuals leaving addictions treatment who would otherwise end up back in homelessness. It’s hard enough to maintain sobriety after treatment. Living in homelessness multiplies the risks of lapsing.

We are in the apartment of another man in the building. He has offered up his delightful, homey space to our video crew so that other tenants, all clients of Keys, can come in and film Christmas wishes on film. We’ll be putting the wishes up on a website (thegiftproject.ca) which will be live in the next couple of weeks.

Everyone on the film crew is a volunteer.

Corkscrew Media, has volunteered time and energy to be part of The Gift Project.

“It’s been meaningful for all of us,” he says as filming wraps up. “Life-changing even.”

Along with the tenants who have agreed to go on camera, and a staff member from Keys, there are five of us present. Brent Kawchuck, Corskscrew’s Executive Producer, Mike the camera man, Blake the director, Paul Long a Calgary-based writer/creative director and myself. About a month ago I had mentioned my idea for The Gift Project to Paul and asked if he would be willing to help out.

He didn’t hesitate.

He immediately checked in with Brent and suddenly, an idea went from ‘conceptual’ to being ‘in action’. Paul’s also connected with Six Degrees Studios and they agreed to do the sound editing.

All pro bono. All because they want to make a difference by being part of a project that aims to connect people to what lies at the heart of Christmas.

It was a question Blake asked each of the participants yesterday.

“What does Christmas mean to you?”

The answers were heartfelt. Poignant.

Belonging. Love. Hope. Being together. Sharing with family and friends. Childrens’ laughter.

“When I was a kid it was all about gifts, the receiving,” said one of the interviewees. “Now, it’s all about gratitude and what I can give others.”

Sobriety is the gift that keeps on giving. And giving.

For some of the individuals interviewed, this Christmas will be the first time in years, they’ve been sober during the holidays.

It is a gift they all treasure. Value. Cherish.

Sobriety.

It is the gift they all said they wanted to share with others.

As one woman so beautiful described it, “I wish I could bottle some of the good things I’ve found in recovery so they could have a sip of it too.”

‘They’ are the people still struggling on the street. Sill searching for a way out, for the courage, the hope that this life, this life of hopelessness and fear, feeling lost and alone, could end.

For the thirteen people we interviewed yesterday, there is life beyond addiction.

It is a miracle kind of place to be.

I sat amidst miracles yesterday. Listened to people tell their stories of struggle, pain, addiction and their journeys into hope, possibility, sobriety.

I felt blessed.

I felt humbled.

I felt grateful.

Thank you Crystal, Gwen, Doug, Tracey, Randy, Kim, Michelle, Jayme, Vivek, Cheryl, Kelly, Brittney.

Your words and courage touched my heart. Your courage is beautiful. Your journeys’ inspiring.

Thank you Keys to Recovery for being part of The Gift Project.

Thank you Paul, Brent, Blake, Mike and Six Degrees.

Your generosity gives me hope. The compassion and care you have brought into this project makes a world of difference.

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As The Gift Project comes online, I shall keep you posted.

Namaste.