Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Alberta

Preparing for the Return of the Calgary Winter at the Mustard Seed

Published

5 minute read

As Calgary prepares for the descent back into winter, the reliance on nonprofit organizations throughout the city is set to increase as the most vulnerable members of the community turn to support programs and shelters to weather the cold months. 

The Mustard Seed is a Christian-faith based organization that values transparency, accountability, respect, communication and holistic innovation. As one of Calgary’s oldest homeless relief organizations, The Mustard Seed has been operating in the city for nearly 40 years. 

By offering a range of products and services to compromised community members in Calgary and across western Canada, The Mustard Seed’s ultimate vision is to eliminate factors that contribute to homelessness and poverty. The organization pursues this goal every day by “providing basic needs (food, clothing and hygiene items), education, employment programs, health and wellness services, spiritual care, housing, and emergency shelter.” 

Founded in 1984 by Pat Nixon, who had experienced homelessness himself as a teenager, The Mustard Seed began as a small drop-in coffee shop. From there, it expanded into a downtown house, and then officially opened as a shelter on 11 Ave SE in 1992. Beginning with just 80 mats and a single location in ‘92, The Mustard Seed now operates five different locations across Calgary, and has the capacity to house 370 adults every night at their Foothills Shelter location. According to Dave Conrad, Community Engagement Manager for the Mustard Seed, the shelter serves close to 315,000 meals every year, and often hits overnight capacity in the winter months, averaging 328 individuals per night in 2019.

In addition to the Foothills Shelter, the Mustard Seed also operates the Downtown Support Centre, the Wellness Centre, the Neighbour Centre, and the Resource Sorting Centre. Across these 5 locations, The Mustard Seed is able to provide a series of advocacy, health and wellness, transportation, employment and spiritual care services to those who need them most. 

The Mustard Seed is also responsible for the 1010 Centre, Canada’s largest permanent supportive housing facility, which provides affordable, sustainable housing options in the city of Calgary. They have a total of 285 affordable housing units among four locations: 224 units in the 1010 Centre, 30 units in the Downtown Support Centre, and 31 units in two external housing units. 

Providing aid and relief, and fulfilling the most basic human needs as well as educational, employment and social needs for those who require it most is no small task. Issues such as homelessness and poverty pay no attention to a pandemic, and COVID-19 has had a major impact on operations at the Mustard Seed and organizations similar. 

In order to maintain compliance with COVID-19 health and safety mandates, the capacity of the Mustard Seed to house individuals has been reduced from 370 at one location to 238 between two locations, which will pose a unique challenge heading into winter. However, Conrad says they are committed to making it work, whatever it takes. “As the winter comes, we tend to see our numbers go up, which will create some unique challenges with the pandemic this year” he says, “but we will continue to work with the community and collaborate with other organizations to ensure that everyone who needs a bed, has a bed.” 

Despite the new and ongoing challenges of 2020, the support from the public during the pandemic has been extraordinary, says Conrad. ““We have all been incredibly humbled by the public response over the course of all this,” he says, “we are so encouraged by the outpouring of support from our community.”

Heading back into winter, some of the most pressing needs for The Mustard Seed currently include warm clothes and new underwear, and the organization is also encouraging people to explore available opportunities to return to volunteering. 

For more information about The Mustard Seed, visit https://theseed.ca

To find out how you can contribute and for a comprehensive list of items urgently needed by the Mustard Seed, check https://theseed.ca/urgent-items/

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Former world champion Kevin Koe earns third straight win at Tim Hortons Brier event

Published on

CALGARY —
Kevin Koe remains unbeaten at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Koe’s Wild Card 2 rink defeated Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island 12-5 on Sunday to improve to 3-0 at the Canadian men’s curling championship.

MacKenzie’s squad dropped to 0-2.

Koe, a four-tine Canadian champion and twice a world gold medallist from Calgary,  took control of the match early, scoring three in the second for a 4-0 lead.

Koe’s rink added four more in the fourth end to go up 8-1 before adding three in the sixth for an 11-3 advantage.

Koe rounded out the scoring with one in the eighth, after which the two teams shook hands.

Koe’s takes on Team Canada’s Brad Gushue (2-0) in the evening draw.

In other early action, Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone (2-1) downed Newfoundland & Labrador’s Greg Smith (0-3) 6-3; Quebec’s Michael Fournier (2-1) defeated Nunavut’s Peter Mackey (0-2) 15-1; and Ontario’s John Epping (2-1) got past Nova Scotia’s Scott McDonald (1-2) 12-7.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Alberta

‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

Published on

EDMONTON — Kiara Robillard says she was in a really bad place.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, after she was struck by a truck and her spine broke in two places, she moved home to Alberta from California.

“That put a real damper on my life for quite awhile,” says the 25-year-old, who’s unemployed and living in Edmonton.

“I was depressed, anxious, losing touch with reality, and I was desperate for help.”

A few months ago, she says her doctor recommended she subscribe to an Alberta Health Service text-messaging program designed to provide mental-health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s called Text4Hope.

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months. After that, they can subscribe for a further six months.

Robillard selects a message of hope on her cellphone. “This one’s my favourite: ‘We often think that motivation leads to behaviour. The opposite is also true. Engaging in activities can increase your motivation.’

“I struggle with motivation so just seeing it written out in plain English … it kind of clicks.”

Vincent Agyapong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, founded the program.

“Text4Hope is a program that allows individuals to subscribe to receive daily supportive text messages to help people deal with stress, anxiety and depression during the COVID pandemic,” he says.

“When people are feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, they become preoccupied with doom and gloom.

“Once you are in this mental state you receive this positive message of hope, which momentarily disrupts your negative pattern of thinking.”

Agyapong says the messages are crafted by psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists.

Another example of a message sent to subscribers: “When bad things happen that we can’t control, we often focus on the things we can’t change. Focus on what you can control; what can you do to help yourself (or someone else) today?”

The idea for Text4Hope came from a similar texting service Agyapong created after a wildfire tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2016. Text4Mood, which was also promoted by Alberta Health Services, sent similar messages of hope to that community’s residents.

Over six weeks with Text4Hope, Agyapong says users reported a 10 per cent reduction in depressive thoughts in comparison to those who didn’t get messages.

“When people switch from being preoccupied with the doom and gloom to thinking more of the positive contents of the messages, which changes their thinking pattern, (it) results in reduced stress, anxiety and depression,” he says.

More than 52,000 people have subscribed to the program since it started nearly a year ago. It is planning to continue for at least two years.

Agyapong says he has also set up a program that will send similar text messages in Arabic for newcomers, starting in April.

Last month, he started a text service for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and he launched one in British Columbia for residents in Indigenous communities who have had multiple traumas. “They had wildfires, then they have flooding and now they have the pandemic,” says Agyapong.

Robillard says she is getting therapy and on medication, but Text4Hope comes in handy on days when she feels down.

“It’s something that’s like a good addition to whatever regimen you have for taking care of your mental health,” she says.

“It’s there to help me … having a different voice, a different stream of consciousness around me helps.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

Continue Reading

Trending

X