Friday, March 09, 2007

Creating Community

I have been working at the Calgary Drop In for over two years now. Through this time I have connected with so many folks who come from a varied life journey. Each individual has a story to share and they seek a place to find community and feel safe from the streets.

There are people that work full time, yet do not make enough income to be able to afford their own place to live so they stay at the Drop In. With the rise in rental properties in Calgary, it is difficult for someone to afford the cost of renting and having the luxury of their own space. The minimum wage is just not enough to support someone to live on their own.

The Drop In offers many wonderful workshops to help them learn the skills to work towards independence. Our labour office helps people gain skills in a variety of jobs that require different skills. We also offer programs to help people improve their employable skills so that they can gain better jobs.

There are women and men who are battling addictions, while working on a program to stay sober. They come to the Drop In to access our support services to assist them on their recovery journey. It is often a challenge to stay sober when you do not feel you have enough supports in place to help you. It takes a strong person to walk away, and stand tall to say "enough". "I want more from life". When they choose to come to the Drop In, and reach out for help, they are taking a major step forward in making changes in their lives. There are many wonderful staff members at the Drop In who work with people wanting to make changes, and sometimes this involves "tough love". But for those who are really making the effort to make positive changes, they know that there are others who are part of the Drop In community who will help walk the journey with them and share community resources to help them recover.

There are seniors who stay with us rather than being alone. They find comfort in our seniors program with outings, sharing a game of cards, and being part of a community here. We have a building for our seniors so that those who are able to live on their own can have their own space. There are many wonderful folks living at Bridgeland apartments who gather for potlucks and share in celebrations. There are many seniors who return to the Drop In to volunteer their time in our clothing room, or help in our laundry services.

There are young adults, who have challenges with their families and can't live at home. They come to the Drop In and network with others to learn of educational programs and participate in our life skills workshops. They work in our computer labs to gain computer skills or participate in our Wood Shop to learn woodworking skills to help them find a job.

For every individual that travels through our doors and stays the night, you can bet there is a story with them. It is important to take the time to sit and listen. To give them a voice so that they can feel part of our community and not alone. Everyone needs to feel connected and at the Drop In people can network and find a place in our community.

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