In this current economic climate, trying to raise funds through events has become a worrisome endeavour. Everyone’s dollars, both personal and corporate, are being stretched a little farther. As part of my job I recently spent the day out at the stunningly beautiful Silvertip Golf Resort in Canmore, Alberta hosting a very generous group of people golfing in support of the Diocese’s Feed the Hungry Golf Tournament. I spent a lot of the day monitoring the bottom line of our event, praying for success.
Despite our tournament not selling out for the first time in four years and the cancellation of our silent auction we raised $55,000! These funds will help Feed the Hungry continue its mission: to create a different type of Sunday for Calgary’s impoverished. We do that by serving a family-style sit-down dinner to almost 500 of our neighbours most Sundays in Mission at St. Mary’s Hall. How did we raise that $55,000? Because God provided for us. Whenever I was worried about how the event was going to turn out, I prayed. And He answered. First by giving me peace about the event, but then also with financial provision, including $38,000 in corporate sponsorships!
As I pondered how to share the story of our success, Matthew 6:28b came to mind, and I realized the story isn’t just about our event. It’s about the lesson learned. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.” This whole passage of St. Matthew’s Gospel exhorts us not to worry. That as God cares for the creatures and the earth, so much more abundantly does He care for us, His children. If you are worried about a situation in your life, I encourage you to read this scripture and rest in His peace. If you are feeling called to reach out and help those in need, we can help connect you. Visit the Charities & Development website page at www.calgarydiocese.ca. Thank you to all our supporters who continue to give of their resources. We appreciate you so much.
The first line in the final press release before February 20th's Coldest Night Of the Year event read "Calgary is definitely not getting the cold shoulder from donors this year despite tough economic times." How fitting that during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy this diocesan hosted event supporting the poorest of the poor should receive so much generosity! In a city where people are losing their jobs, their homes and other possessions every day, Calgarians still gave generously. So much so that more than $127,000 was raised to benefit Acadia Place, Feed the Hungry and The Mustard Seed.
By the time registration closed, almost 600 walkers joined together at Eau Claire and then headed out to walk 2, 5 or 10 kilometers along the Bow River Pathway system. The weather was balmy; most 2 km walkers upped the ante to 5 km! Location Director Samantha Jones was moved to tears during the opening ceremonies. "We are so truly grateful to every single one of you!" she said to the crowd. Representing the Diocese through their participation in the event were St. Anthony's (second place team), Deacon Rob McLean with his company Bentall Kennedy, Ascension Parish, Holy Name Parish, the FCJ Centre, St. Bonaventure Parish, St. Patrick's Parish, St. Peter's Parish and the U of C Catholic Community. Many of the event's volunteers were also Catholic parishioners. They were joined by many other denominations, corporate teams, and staff, donors and volunteers from the other beneficiaries.
Pope Francis has asked us during this special Jubilee of Mercy to open our hearts and minds with love and mercy and to look for opportunities to bring healing to the wounds of those struggling. Almost 600 people spent the evening of February 20 doing just that. And it was beautiful!
Every day in Calgary, families are living in shelters, at church Inns, or staying on friends’ couches. This situation continues to grow worse each year, as less and less housing is available. Currently, rental vacancies are down to less than one percent. On May 6, 2014 all shelters were full and no more church spaces were available. Nineteen families (33 children, 58 people in total) had nowhere to go. Fortunately, through the hard work and dedication of individuals at Brenda’s House and Alberta Works, 18 of these families were placed in hotel rooms overnight. Only one family was unable to access support through Alberta Works. These stats were pulled directly from family shelter daily reports.
This was due in part to the lack of church Inns available on May 6, a problem that happens all too often, especially during the summer months. As Catholics, we are called to action. We are called to rise up and do something to assist these families in their time of need. Our responsibility is emphasized many times in Bible passages, including “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did it for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” [Matthew 25:40].
For more than a decade, the greater Christian community, including numerous Catholic churches in Calgary, have been meeting the needs of the homeless through hosting Inns in their churches once or twice a month. An “Inn” hosts homeless families at the church, provides food, shelter and fellowship.
Over the summer months, the Diocesan Housing Committee will be working with churches throughout Calgary to host additional Inns to meet the needs of these families and ensure that no child has to sleep on the street or be apprehended by Child Welfare.
We are asking each of you to pray for these families. Please pray that spaces become available for every family in Calgary who is without affordable housing. We ask you to consider volunteering at an Inn over the summer, even if your church does not currently host one. We have made the volunteering process easier by having implemented a central phone line for information of where Inns are being held throughout the city. Please contact us by calling, (403) 536-5682.
For more information on how you can get involved with helping with this family homelessness crisis, please contact email@example.com. If you are interested in becoming involved with the Diocesan Housing Committee, or want to know more about what the Diocese is doing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Drew Brown, Co-Chair of RC Diocese Housing Committee and President of St. Jude’s Health Management Institute