FCSS makes a difference
Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) makes a difference in the lives of Calgarians. We are proud to share some of our success stories with you. If you would like to share how FCSS has made a positive impact in your organization or client’s lives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: These stories are published with permission from the people involved. Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
*these stories are included in the 2015 FCSS Annual Report
Outcome area: Positive Child and Youth Development
The confidence to be yourself*
Youth Central – Youth Engagement Program
“Before volunteering at Youth Central, I was shy and never confident in expressing my ideas or opinion. All that has changed. Now, I’m more confident and able to take action on issues I’m passionate about. I’ve met so many amazing people and developed so many valuable teamwork and communication skills. I like to think that I’ve become the kind of person people look up to.”
Outcome Area: Family Cohesion and Positive Parenting
Building family and community connections*
CARYA Society of Calgary – Prime Time
Moving to Calgary from Iran in hopes of a better life for their one-year-old daughter has been a challenge for both parents. Mom was feeling unsupported with signs of depression and exhaustion. Dad worked long hours outside the city limits leaving mother and daughter alone for long periods. The risk of family breakdown was high. After six months in the Prime Time program, mom reports improved mood, less depression and participates with her daughter in daily community programs. With the help of the Prime Time coach the couple has discovered new ways of communicating, mom is working to re-establish her career by going back to school and dad is adjusting his hours of work to watch their daughter while his wife attends classes. They have committed to staying together and continue to learn about their daughter’s development.
Overcoming obstacles for family well-being
Families Matter Society of Calgary - Successful Young Parents Program
Sandra and Rob, both in their twenties with two young daughters, joined the program in February 2016. Rob was struggling to overcome an addiction that began in adolescence and had significant impact on his family. After the birth of their first daughter, he began stealing from Sandra to pay for his addiction which resulted in the family moving into a homeless shelter in Calgary where they remained for approximately one year. This naturally impacted their relationship due to feelings of anger, resentment and mistrust. Since beginning the program, they are enjoying nearly one year of Rob’s sobriety, have moved into a three bedroom apartment and are both fully engaged in a variety of support programs at Families Matter.
Outcome Area: Economic Self-Sufficiency
Saving for the future*
Momentum Community Economic Development Society – Family Asset Building Programs
Olivia has beaten all odds to succeed in the Youth Fair Gains (YFG) program. A young mother of a six-month-old, Olivia initially failed to gain admission to the program in part due to her lack of attendance in school and overspending on her monthly budget. The facilitators at Louise Dean, a high school for pregnant and parenting young mothers, allowed Olivia to audit the course and prove she could save money. Olivia re-worked her budget to save each month and most importantly not go further into debt. She rose to the challenge and was formally admitted into the program after the third session. Due to the skills developed through the Youth Fair Gains program, Olivia is more independent, continues to be diligent in her savings, and is now paying rent to her mother, and all the bills for herself and her baby.
Outcome Area: Positive Social Ties
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society – Immigrant Seniors Integration Project
It was a quiet beginning for this senior who came to Canada a couple of years ago. Very shy at first, she joined our programs where she was mentored by another senior who helped her become familiar with Canadian culture and the Calgary community. With renewed confidence, she is now a community leader initiating projects for her community through another organization.
Volunteering leads to renewed career
Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association – Volunteer Program
Prior to immigrating to Canada from Mexico with her husband and four children, ‘Rina’ worked as a community nurse. As a way to improve her English, gain Canadian experience and meet new people, she joined the Volunteer Program. As her self-confidence and language skills grew, she became a Cross Cultural Parenting program volunteer and health educator for CIWA’s Breast Health program, which led to employment at the Foothills Medical Centre. Today, Rina continues to volunteer at CIWA helping other immigrant women practice English, learn about life in Canada and build new friendships.
Outcome Area: Healing from Inter-generational Trauma
A supportive and accepting environment for healing*
Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary
Feeling her life lacked its ‘true direction’, a Métis woman participated in the Traditional Naming Program, funded by FCSS. The Elders that run the program were so open, loving, and understanding she was able to share her thoughts, feelings, and perceptions without fear of judgement or consequence. She shared her struggles as a Métis person, her desire to learn more about Indigenous culture and desire to educate her children about the culture. She received her traditional name, and carries it proudly with her.
Southeast / Southwest quadrants
Residents’ group goes to school - Albert Park / Radisson Heights (SE)*
A group of residents from the Albert Park/Radisson Heights community, together with the Community Social Worker (CSW), spoke with students in the Community Development and Advocacy class at Columbia College. The event provided an opportunity for residents to understand their role in community development and the support provided by City of Calgary CSWs. As one resident said, “when I joined the group I wasn’t aware of what community development looked like, but now I am fully confident about the work I do in my community.”
Keeping food safe - Penbrooke Meadows (SE)
In partnership with the Penbrooke Resident Initiative (PRI) group, the Penbrooke Meadows Community Association, Alberta Health Services, and the Community Social Worker hosted a 2.5-hour workshop on food safety. Written materials were provided in 10 languages and all participants received a Food Safety Certification at the end of the night. Workshops such as Food Safety help provide formal training to further the capacity, confidence and competence of residents.
Tool lending library gives power to residents - Lincoln Park (SW) *
Calgary Housing complexes in Lincoln Park now have a much-needed Tool Lending Library. The idea was formed by a local resident and a CSW, and received enthusiastic support from The Calgary Tool Library, Calgary Housing and Bethany Church. Energy around the initiative has been contagious with numerous volunteers and a successful first year of operation. This local solution to a need demonstrated by the community will both benefit residents (who will have access to tools) and decrease the need for compliance measures by Bylaw Services and Calgary Housing Company.
Discussing poverty - Rosscarrock (SW)
To commemorate the United Nations International Day to End Poverty (October 17), a diverse group of residents discussed a wide range of social, cultural and economic issues relating to poverty in our city including: access to childcare, barriers to employment (particularly for new Canadians), limited income, affordable housing and costs associated with health and wellness. The group then examined the "Enough for All' strategy, developed by The City of Calgary and the United Way of Calgary and Area. A presentation by Vibrant Community Calgary (VCC) helped the group consider how Rosscarrock could initiate resident-led, community-based poverty reduction projects, and promote greater social inclusion.
Sacred Heart School partnership - Sunalta (SW)
The CSW has been connecting with Sacred Heart School to offer support and services to socially and economically marginalized families in the community, particularly since there is a high percentage of new immigrants. Well-received initiatives have included: the Summer Adventures program, which offered children an opportunity to come to a locally based and accessible program, Child Safe Canada courses "Home Alone" and "Street Smarts", the library mobile truck and the Calgary Afterschool Program for kids aged 9-12.
Northeast / Northwest quadrants
Highland watch - Highland Park (NW/NE) *
Following the 2014 resident survey, a committee was formed to address neighbourhood safety. Engaged residents are developing an action plan to present to the community and have formed the “Highland Watch” group that walks the neighbourhood and reports suspicious activities. Supportive partners include the Federation of Calgary Communities, Calgary Police Service and Bylaw Services.
Harvesting community benefits - Vista Heights (NE) *
Not being able to afford healthy food is a serious issue. To help solve the problem residents proposed a community garden at the green space by Vista Heights School. A resident leader and CSW met with the school principal and Calgary Board of Education horticultural worker to make this idea a reality. Everyone got involved. The garden group worked to build raised beds. Students created drawings for murals while others grew seedling plants in their classrooms. The residents group planned a permaculture class to engage new people and learn new garden development skills. Community gardens harness the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic benefits. Members of the group say they feel connected to the neighbourhood, residents are saving money on their grocery bills and produce is being donated to the monthly community dinner.
Let’s talk about cash stores - Forest Lawn (NE)
Through community conversations, council committee meetings and Alberta Government Surveys, residents are having their voices heard concerning cash stores – many located in Forest Lawn — often with interest rates and service charges that increase the original loan to much more than can be afforded.
Workshop series engages tenants - Bankview, Bridgeland-Riverside, Thorncliffe-Greenview, Highland Park (NE)
In neighbourhoods with a high proportion of renters, Community Social Workers know it is often difficult to engage renters in community initiatives. The CSWs have therefore created a successful workshop series designed to engage renters with helpful topics. The first session, Repairs for Renters, provided hands-on experience and knowledge about’ preventative maintenance and basic repairs to increase the likelihood of tenants receiving security deposits back when moving. The second session, Real Talk for Renters, provided an opportunity to learn about landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in Alberta, as well as legal, health, and safety resources available to renters.