Saturday, March 10, 2007

You can make a difference

It was a busy day at lunch on Friday. We didn't have enough volunteers to serve clients at their tables which meant everyone had to line up to receive their meal and juice. Our preference is to serve people at their table -- it's an opportunity to be of service and, for homeless individuals who are often forced to line-up for almost everthing, it's an opportunity to feel 'normal', to be treated with dignity and to feel like they 'count' as individuals. While clients can't choose what they want for lunch or dinner and it's not necessarily restaurant fare, the food is wholesome and the smile served up with each plate makes a world of difference to the person being served.

Bring your group in to volunteer

Volunteering is a great opportunity for organizations and groups to work together towards making a difference.

Get your team together to volunteer one day a month, (or more!) at the Drop-In. (You can even sponsor a meal with our Buy, Cook, Serve program -- call Larissa at 263-5707 to find out more.) Groups can be as large as 28 or as small as 5. Your group arrives at 11:45 am, (5:45 pm for dinner) dons aprons, gloves and hairnets and get to work behind the counter preparing the plates with food, or on the service side carrying plates to clients. 12:30 to 12:45 lunch is over. You leave with the appreciative applause of the individuals you served ringing in your ears and the knowledge you've made a difference lifting your spirits as you carry on with your day. Helping serve lunch or dinner is a great opportunity to give back to the community. You help us serve our clients with dignity and respect and touch the hearts and minds of everyone at the Drop-In.

For groups coming in for the first time or people who have never visited the Drop-In, we can also arrange a tour. Each tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour and provides an overview of our services and programs, as well as insight into homelessness, its causes, effects and challenges. The feedback after a tour ranges from, "Wow! I didn't realize the Drop-In did so much more than just sleep and feed the homeless." to "I didn't know you had so many employment related programs or that you had such a high level of transitional services to assist people towards getting back on their feet." to "This is amazing. I had no idea."

Serving those who need a helping hand

The United nations describes poverty as "the denial of opportunities and choices most basic to human development -- to lead a long, healthy, creative life and to enjoy a decent standard of living,freedom, dignity, self-esteem, and the respect of others." In a city as rich and vibrant and booming as Calgary, there are those who cannot afford a roof over their heads. There are those who cannot get by without a little help from their friends.

The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre is part of the social fabric of our city. We provide homeless individuals, the working poor and those living in poverty the necessary supports to be safe, to catch their breath and to regain some stability in their lives. We provide them a supportive environment in which they can figure out 'What next?' And, we provide guidance and tools that help them take the steps they've identified that will make a difference in their lives.

In a perfect world, no one would ever need our services. Everyone would have a place to call home.

In today's reality, we sleep 1100 people a night and serve 3500 meals and snacks a day.

In a perfect world, everyone would have the ability and the skills to live creative productive lives.

In reality, some people need more help than others. Approximately 35% of our clients have an addiction -- sometimes, it's the addiciton that drove them to the street. Sometimes, the addiction was acquired as a means of coping with the numbing stress of being homeless. Approximately 35% of our clients have a mental disorder. They may have tried living on their own, but didn't thrive. Their mental disorder inhibits their ability to live without support of some kind.

With a little help from our friends

Volunteers and donors make a difference every day at the Drop-In. Volunteers and donors extend our services and provide the essential monetary, practical and physical resources we need to help our clients find their hope, their belief in themselves and their way out of homelessness so that they can live, "long, healthy, creative lives". From a toothbrush to the smallest financial contribution -- every little bit counts.

You can make a difference.

Give us a call (263-5707). We appreciate your help.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


My name is Smriti. I am a resident of Calgary. For a while now i have been wanting to volunteer for a non-profit organization who provides food to the homeless, or anyone who is hungry. I was wondering if you are looking for volunteer? I work full-time, so evenings and weekends maybe my only options. Please e-mail me at

Have a nice day! Looking forward to hearing from you.