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FCSS Success stories

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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 fcss@calgary.ca.

Note: These stories are published with permission from the people involved. Names have been changed to protect their privacy.

 

Outcome area: Positive Child and Youth Development

The Catholic Family Service Calgary – Athlete’s Mentoring Program

Bruce and Carol registered their daughter Ashley in the Athlete’s Mentoring Program after hearing about it from her school. At the time, she was very shy and struggling to make friends at school. Through Athlete’s Mentoring, she built a close relationship with her mentor, learned more about herself, gained self-esteem and learned how to build meaningful friendships.

“I love my mentor, she is like a sculptor and she helped sculpt my personality," said Ashley, at the celebration party. "My mentor made me realize who I was on the inside.” 

Outcome Area: Family Cohesion and Positive Parenting

Families Matter Society of Calgary – Parent Support Services

Sheila was suffering post-partum depression and desperately needed help. She reached out to Families Matter where she met a support worker who reassured her that she would get better.

Families Matter became her place to be honest when she was at her most vulnerable.

“Because of them, I gained tools that I can use now and for the rest of my life,” said Sheila.

Families Matter Society of Calgary - Successful Young Parents Program

Family drawing

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: Adult Personal Capacity and Economic Self-Sufficiency

The Kerby Centre – Financial and Social Benefits Program

Sam is an elderly Chinese-Canadian citizen. He arrived at the Kerby Centre Information Department in crisis: he had been living alone with no food or income. The Kerby Centre referred him to the food bank and helped him file several years of taxes. This enabled him to apply for eligible federal and provincial benefits. A few months later, the Kerby Centre helped Sam apply for subsidized housing. Now he has a place to live and enough income to support his needs.

“Coming to the Kerby Centre is a life changing experience for me”, said Sam.

Outcome Area: Positive Social Ties

Centre for Newcomers Society of Calgary - Volunteer Development Program

A young man recently immigrated to Canada and was a client at the Centre for Newcomers. He wanted to gain Canadian experience so they encouraged him to volunteer as a teacher. He was always excited to go to class, as he was able to help friends of all ages from many countries. They became a big family, creating a rich and comfortable environment for learning and integration to flourish. “I learned we can do amazing things to help educate and integrate newcomers to Canada,” he says.

Seniors Programs - Bow Cliff Seniors, Bowness Seniors, Confederation Park 55+ Club, Good Companions 50 Plus Club, Greater Forest Lawn Seniors Citizens Society, Ogden House Senior Citizens’ Club, Parkdale Nifty Fifties Seniors Association, and West Hillhurst Go-Getters

Seniors Programs are delivered at eight seniors’ centres, all of which promote social connections and reduces social isolation among seniors by providing programs and services that are accessible, affordable, and account for health, mobility and cultural considerations. Seniors programs are intended to promote and enable physical, mental, and social engagement within the community.

Senior Citizens

A participant from the West Hillhurst Go-Getters – Seniors Programs said, “I joined the Go-Getters 3 years ago just before the passing of my husband. The activity that I joined at that time was Country Line Dancing, a class that has been fulfilling in many ways!  Besides the wonderful welcome from Carole and Cassandra, there are so many great people that attend.  Those that are more senior than me are a great inspiration and make me feel ‘part of the group’. It has not only provided me with improved health and fitness by taking the dance class, but the Go-Getters has provided me with friendship. It is a place of great support and networking to be around people in a similar situation as myself. There are numerous opportunities to join in many outings at classes at the Go-Getters thanks to the gals in the office and their creativity. It is a one of a kind group and I am thankful to belong.”

Outcome Area: Healing from Inter-generational Trauma

Metis Calgary Family Service - Calgary AfterSchool Little Thunderbirds Program

The program goal is to increase social inclusion among vulnerable Aboriginal children through specific culturally based activities such as sports, art, music, and traditional teachings from Aboriginal adults and Elders.

Metis Calgary Family Service shared this story:

“We are building on empowering our children in their cultural identity. One of our participants started our program and was known as being a ‘problem child’. The participant was argumentative, a bully to the other children and a large stress factor for many of the program workers. Now, this participant has developed close relations with the staff and with other children and is steadily learning to put trust in other people. Their attitude has since undergone a significant and positive shift. The child used to sit in the corner and fool around during Pow Wow Dance lessons, but now gets excited to participate, strengthening his cultural identity and self-esteem. The participant now speaks more confidently, especially to adults. One of our participants has admittedly struggled with depression at a very young age. Coming to our program every day has given the participant a reliable safe space to be their self, and to be proud of their cultural identity. Specifically, this child has grown through Pow Wow Dance and now shares openly during “Sharing Circle”.

Community Development Stories

Community-based reconciliation in Rosscarrock

Rosscarrock residents initiated community-based reconciliation conversations to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) call for action. They organized interactive activities centered on traditional Indigenous drumming and singing and invited families and residents to learn about Indigenous history and what it means to live on Treaty 7 land.

This event sparked the residents’ commitment to act upon the findings of the TRC and work together on the path of healing and justice.

“The drumming circle was a great opportunity to connect with neighbours," said one resident. "I learned we all have hidden talents within our community. Hearing a strong beat coming from so many brought me a sense of peace.”

A local response to unemployment: Bankview

Because of the economic climate, many Calgarians are currently out of work. Agencies and partners note that unemployment and job search are frequent issues Bankview residents are asking for help with. Residents report being unsure how to search for a job in the current market, especially if they have not had to apply for a job for a long time or lack technical skills in social media and online communication.

A local resident with extensive skills and experience in interviewing and hiring approached the Community Social Worker (CSW). She wanted to know if her skills and knowledge might be of benefit to others in the neighbourhood. Working in partnership, a series of four Job Search sessions were offered at the Bankview Community Hall. They were designed to build the skills and confidence of job seekers in today’s employment market.

The Calgary Public Library provided their Digital Literacy in the Community (DLIC) laptops and assistance so all participants could actively work on their job search and resumes while in class. This also provided hands-on opportunities for residents with low confidence on computers. Information was shared between participants about other community resources such as Laid Off YYC, where residents could connect with other job seekers. Participants reported feeling better prepared for finding work and increased confidence going into an interview.

The Calgary Public Library observed how residents were benefiting from this program. “A gentleman attended a session at the Bankview Community Association. He had been unemployed since Dec. 2015 and has been struggling with being inactive and home all day. He is now at the library several times a week. He participates in the patron-led support group for people who have been unemployed, and attends every session.”

Sunalta: Baby steps and giant strides

When Sophie and her husband moved to Canada with their two-year-old daughter, they began to face the realities of building a new life in new country. Without family or friends around her, she sought to develop ties with her neighbours and community. Specifically, she wanted to meet other parents with young children.

Sophie took the initiative and approached her local community social worker to explore how she could set up a parent-toddler program. The community social worker noted that other parents had mentioned the same thing so together, they hosted a meeting to explore the possibilities. Many residents attended the meeting and expressed their excitement. The Sunalta community association also offered free space in their community hall to set the program up for success. In less than a week, Sophie’s mom-and-tot program was born.

Today, this weekly program enables parents to connect to each other and talk about parenting, community and life while their children are learning to make friends. Sophie applied for an “I love my neighbourhood” grant to purchase toys and craft supplies. She organizes the snacks and maintains the group’s contact list. Local parents continue to see value in the program, with more than 40 children and adults of diverse backgrounds participating in the program each week.

“Volunteering allows me to build my friendship network, meet new people and helps me give back to the community,” says Sophie. “I’m so proud to be part of the team organizing the weekly gathering for parents and toddlers!” The program is a great example of residents working together with community partners to develop and deliver a valuable service. It’s also a great example of building upon the strengths, skills, capacities and passions of residents to create broader opportunities for inclusion and participation. Finally, it is a reflection on the numerous gifts that newcomers bring to our city.

Cedar Court Hub: A place for the heart of a community

When people come together in their communities, magic happens. That’s the concept behind the Cedar Court Hub, which provides a physical place for residents of the Crossroads (Vista Heights and Mayland Heights) community. Work on the hub began in December 2015, when the Community Social Worker (CSW) worked with Calgary Housing Company to rejuvenate a non-residential room in a Calgary Housing complex located in Mayland Heights.

The community social worker (CSW) engaged residents in determining the resources and programs to be developed for the hub to ensure its operations accurately reflect the interests and aspirations of these diverse communities. The CSW then shared this information with partners, including Aspen Family & Community Services and the Calgary Public Library (CPL). As a result, programs, resources and services are now offered in and around the Cedar Court Hub, including the CPL’s “Book Truck”, inter-agency work, and volunteer recruitment. Residents also see this space as a place to simply meet each other and build their social networks.

The Cedar Court Hub is becoming a place where community simply happens. Looking ahead, CSWs plan to develop a resident-centric governance structure, host planning sessions, continue to engage residents, and establish formal community partnerships. Doing so will enable the Cedar Court Hub to continue to be sustainable, relevant and grounded in the interests and aspirations of residents.