I was in my last year of my BA in Communications at the University of Calgary and my dad, a professor, was volunteering at the CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society) clothing room. Since I did not have a full courseload, he thought I should volunteer at CUPS. I had always been drawn to urban issues and into graffiti, which took me to questionable places so CUPS had a certain appeal. At that age I was only really interested in doing things for money and it took me a while to succumb to the idea of free labour. In 2003 I started volunteering at CUPS and my love for connecting with vulnerable individuals began.
The following is a summary of what I have been involved in since my first experience at CUPS.
Calgary Alpha House Society (2012-2020)
Since 2005 I worked in partnership with Alpha House creating 7 different outreach teams.
The DOAP Team is the most well-known team I helped create as a partnership between CUPS and Alpha House. It grew from just a few hours a week walking/driving to 24/7 with multiple teams on. The idea of public intoxication as social issue rather then a criminal issue is even relevant today and the idea is to free up services like Calgary Police Service to deal with more criminal issues.
The team was averaging 1600 transports a month and responding to calls throughout the whole city. Working with a wide range of community partners, tons of unique experiences and one on one time with clients made this team a sought after position.
2020 – COVID-19 Transitional Hotel
Initiated temporary/transitional residence for 59 individuals.
2019 – Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) Team Beltline
Proactive outreach focusing on hot spots in the core (Sheldon Chumir and Beltline area) to get people to a safe place.
2019 – DOAP Team Downtown
Proactive outreach focusing on hot spots in the core (Stephen Ave, East Village and Olympic Plaza) to get people to a safe place.
2019 – Needle Response Team
Focusing on responding to needle debris in Calgary with a response line for citizens to call.
The needle team was a simple model that took the burden off of the Calgary Fire Department to be the main needle debris response. My idea was to use GPS mapping app that would show how many needles were picked up and where. We knew this issue was city wide and the map helped validate that.
2018 – DOAP & Calgary Transit Partnership
To provide case management support to vulnerable individuals accessing Calgary Transit. Goal to increase perception of safety on Calgary Transit.
2016 - Connect 2 Care Team (C2C):
Bridge the gap when clients are leaving hospital and returning to community. Goal is to reduce hospital usage.
The logical idea to assist people to get attached to a primary care physician, make their follow-up medical appointments, and assist with social supports to get them into housing.
2008 - Encampment Team
Focused on getting rough sleepers into housing.
Early on in 2004 I learned what to look for in terms of locating camps, accessing them safely and how to engage the campers. A few years later I was excited to develop a team to do this full time. The engagement process is key since most campers are self-sufficient. You have to be patient, respectful of space and come up with creative solutions.
2005 - Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP)
A 24/7 high crisis outreach team focusing on providing an alternative response to public intoxication.
Chair of the Calgary Case Management Group, (2009-2020)
Coordinate and chair monthly meetings to discuss high users of emergency services in Calgary. Members include: AHS, CPS, EMS, Drop-In Centre, Elizabeth Fry, Calgary Transit.
In 2009, as collaboration was increasing in Calgary, it came to light that of course individuals who were accessing large systems at an alarming rate were also well-known to the shelter system. The Case Management Group was one of the first examples of justice, health and social services coming together. It was a diverse group of providers who were passionate about out-of-the-box thinking to provide support to these individuals.
Instructor, Outreach for Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary Working with Homeless Populations Certificate (2013-2018)
Introduce students to the practice of outreach on the street and provide them with front line experience.
Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) (2003 – 2012)
CUPS was where it all began for me. I did not know what I was going to do after University, so I am grateful for the opportunity that has sent me on a wonderful path. I was lucky to work with amazing people at CUPS (Scott Calling Last among them,) who saw how green I was but gave me the taste for outreach that I needed.
2007-2012 - Outreach Manager
• Supervised CUPS lobby, CUPS Outreach, DOAP Team and Encampment Team.
• Duties included hiring, evaluating and dismissing outreach workers.
• In charge of scheduling, reporting and presentations within the agency and externally.
2004-2007 - Full-time Outreach Worker
• Established Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) Team in partnership with Alpha House
• Did street work dealing effectively with crisis situations
• Made referrals to a wide variety of community resources
• Helped to train new staff
• Collected data and participated in case management