Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Experiencing Homelessness At Inn From The Cold






  As I go about my daily routine, I find that I often forget just how privileged my life really is.  I have been blessed with an amazing family, friends and support network in my life.  I have been lucky enough to have a successful career that provides my family with the financial security that many people may never experience.  I sometimes forget that while we live in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, there is a depressing reality that many people face on a daily basis in Calgary... homelessness.

  To many, the image of homelessness is Calgary is stereotyped with the image of an older adult male living on the streets, often challenged by addiction or mental health issues.  While there are some great facilities in Calgary for single adults, most people never envision that there are actually hundreds of families that are homeless!  What happens when a family finds itself with nowhere to live?  Where do they turn?

  For the past 17 years, the Inn From The Cold has provided shelter and support to families that find themselves with nowhere else to go.  I have been a supporter of this wonderful organization for many years and was able to experience the amazing work that they do first hand today as part of their "Experience Homelessness" event and it has really opened my eyes to the challenges many Calgarians face.

  The event started out with me receiving a fictional "Final Eviction Notice" from my landlord, confirming that since I have not paid my rent,  the locks will be changed on my home and I will not be able to return.  The landlord has recommended that I attend a meeting with the Inn From The Cold today to determine if they can help keep my family off the street.

 ( The experience will now take place with my visiting the facility and experiencing this in a first person  perspective of what typically occurs on a daily basis.)


Intake/Assessment




  I arrived at my appointment with the few belongings that my family and I still  have ( nicely packed into a garbage bag) and awaited my appointment with my intake worker.  They explained this process takes one to two hours and this will help in assessing my family's needs and will help determine what the next steps will be.  This includes assessment of my education, employment, finances, rental history, cultural needs and family support situation.   Since there is a 3000+ person wait list for homes in the Calgary Housing Corporation, I am told that I will likely never obtain a space  in this subsidized housing program in the short term.  



 Once my assessment is complete, the workers really try to put together a "holistic" plan together for me and my family that we can implement.  We will be in touch with various programs throughout the city over the next few days.  But tonight, I will need their help with shelter.


Kidzone: 

  Since my children are getting restless, we move over to the "Kidzone" area at the Inn.  This is an amazing facility that focuses on education, literacy, parental bonding and helping to make the children feel at ease and secure in a fun environment.  There is a huge early childhood education component, which is quite amazing.  There are also some interesting drama club events for the older children, along with some pretty cool arts and crafts areas.

(This was one of the hardest parts of the experience for me, as I almost broke down numerous times when trying to imagine my 4 year old innocently playing in here and not understanding why we did not a home to go to anymore. )




Living Area:





 The picture above shows the rooms (called "cubicles") where a family will sleep when staying at the Inn.  As you can see, there are no doors on these rooms.  I couldn't help but note that the sleeping area ( for up to 6 people in one family) is smaller than one tiny bedroom in many homes. There are 27 of these "cubicles" which allow for close to 130 people to take shelter in the facility.

 Since the facility is full tonight, we will likely be taken by a chartered bus to a local church facility where we will spend the night.  The bus leaves after supper and will return us back to the facility early in the morning.  From there, the children will go to school etc.

  If  there is no available room at a church facility, we will find ourselves sleeping in the common living room on the third floor on one of these mats tonight.





 This whole experience was so unique as rather than take you through a generic "tour" of the facility, you actually experience it in a first person perspective.  I honestly had a hard time "keeping it together" during the experience as it was so intense and emotional.  I left the facility a little misty eyed and thankful that I actually get to return to my privileged life once I walk out the door.




  I sat in my car for a few minutes feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and angry upon realizing that some families have to face this reality every day.  I became focused on thinking that there must be something I can do to help in the coming months.  I have a few fundraising ideas and hope to explore these with my friends and family. Stay tuned.

  Here is a quick video that the Inn From The Cold released yesterday and it really is worth a look.  Also, be sure to check out their website for more information on how to volunteer and donate to this amazing charity.

www.innfromthecold.org






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Friday, August 29, 2014

Thanks Everyone For Making PoliBowl 2014 A Success!



 I just wanted to thank everyone for making PoliBowl a huge success!  We held the third Polibowl charity political bowling fundraiser at Century Casino Bowling on Monday August 25 and it was a great event.  I was able to sell more lanes than anticipated, which was amazing considering we are not in an election year and I am humbled that we were able to pack the facility.

  The wonderful thing about Polibowl is that it is supported by concerned citizens, local business leaders and engaged people from across the entire political spectrum.  We had teams from all political parties and everyone pulled together (as they always do) to help raise some money for charity.  It seems to get more popular each year, due solely to the great people who purchase lanes and show off their bowling skills.

Here are some pictures from this years event. ( I couldn't get shots of all 25 lanes...sorry if I missed you!)



Best Team Spirit Winner " Split Happens" 



Team #PoliWings ( aka Pretty Pretty Princesses)  With our special guest "Rooty"


 Team Tom Kmiec ( Calgary Shepard CPC Nomination Candidate)


Team Cam-Paign!  ( Cam Davies- Calgary SE Wildrose PartyNomination Candidate)


Team Traptow 


Team Verico First Start Mortgage "Split Happens #2" 


Team Brokerlink #2


Team Enmax


Team 1Calgary Vote


Team Alberta Party


Ric McIver's McBowlers


Media All Stars! 


Team Sean Chu


Team Carra


Team YYC


Calgary SE PCAA MLA Rick Fraser, Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark and Calgary SE WRP Nomination Candidate Cam Davies


My bowling was so bad...I should have stuck to taking pictures!


2014 GutterBall Champion...Patty McLeod! Patty was also 2013 GutterBall Queen....and we expect the same for 2015! :)



PC Leadership Candidate Ric McIver being a good sport at a failed "patch over attempt"!


Through your generosity, we were able to raise close to $4500 for Brown Bagging For Calgary's Kids, which will provide lunches for thousands of needy school kids this year.

I hope that this can continue to be an annual event.  Thanks again to everyone for their donations and support.  For more information on Brown Bagging For Calgary Kids, or to make a donation and/or information on volunteer opportunities, please visit www.bb4ck.org

Thanks!

Shane


Thursday, July 3, 2014

PoliBowl 2014 Charity Bowling Event For BB4CK




Where Else Can You Mix Charity, Bowling and Politics? 





 I am excited to announce that we will be hosting our third annual bowling charity event on August 25, 2014.  The last event was very successful and sold out fairly quickly!  We will be inviting local citizens, politicians, media personalities and the #yyc "Twitterati" to come out and enjoy a fun night of bowling for a great local charity!   



As board chair of Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids ( BB4CK) I am excited that this event will be held again.  The proceeds will go to BB4CK to help provide lunches for needy local school kids and I hope that it will be a huge success.



About BB4CK: 

 BB4CK works in partnership with the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Separate School District to combat increasing numbers of students attending Calgary schools without a lunch. BB4CK is delivering 1,500+ lunches each day to over 60 schools.

  In addition to providing lunches from our main kitchen they are also supporting many community based initiatives.  These include churches, community centres, schools and individuals who want to take action and support the children in their communities.  Each program is unique and built to fit the community it serves.  BB4CK is supporting over 60 community based programs.

Since September 2013, they have provided over 103,000 lunches to needed school kids!  


How To Register?  ( Note: No Tickets Available At The Door...sorry.) 


To Register Online: polibowl2014.eventbrite.ca    ( Note: This event sells out quickly!) 

How Can You Help? 

Please share this event with your friends and family!  If you would like to help or volunteer at this event, please email me. ( calgaryrants ( at) gmail.com ) 

I hope to see everyone there!  




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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thanks For Making The #PoliBowl 2013 Charity Bowling Event A Huge Success!



I wanted to send a huge thank you to everyone who attended the August 26, 2013 #PoliBowl event at the Century Casino Bowling Centre!  Thanks to the amazing generosity of local politicians and concerned citizens, we were able to raise close to $4500 for Brown Bagging For Calgary Kids and The Calgary Foundation Flood Recovery Fund!

There were over 150 people at this sold out event, including over 25 local politicians that are running for election in the 2013 Calgary municipal election, along with local media.  By all accounts it turned out to be a fun event and nobody reported any smashed toes, which is great news!

 Here are a few pictures from the event....





 





















































More pictures to follow!  Thanks again everyone for an amazing night.  Good luck to all of the candidates in the upcoming election.







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