The Community Development Program works in vulnerable communities at a macro level and strives to empower residents. Where community resources do not yet exist, the Community Development team works with resident groups and community organizations to create these supports. From there, the team helps engage, support and mobilize communities. The work is resident-led and feedback-informed. The support offered includes:
- Getting residents voice heard on interests or concerns
- Building capacity
- Providing opportunities for volunteerism and leadership
- Planning and organizing events
When Covid-19 hit the Community Development team quickly pivoted their focus to understanding the shifting needs of the residents in their communities. The team connected with multiple community organizations to create a comprehensive list of resources and supports that would be available to families throughout the pandemic. The team visited over 1000 homes, safely door-knocking to provide these resources and engage residents. The team surveyed residents to determine immediate needs, which were primarily basic needs, engagement for children and the need for connection through technology. The team was able to mobilize the City of Calgary along with multiple partner agencies to streamline food services to residents who were struggling with food insecurity during this time. They were also able to leverage partnerships to provide technology to over 100 households. Based on resident feedback throughout the pandemic, a planning committee with multiple stakeholders and community residents became engaged in an anti-racism group. This group meets virtually and has developed several “overcoming racism” seminars, open to all community members, involving education and discussion.
The sessions have had a lot of energy and folks are very open to share opinions and thoughts and eager to attend future sessions. The Community Development team has also been able to grow and support the Parent Support Network (PSN). This group has grown and thrived and is in a place of residents working together on organizing funding for virtual events and activities for families.
In late 2020 the team recognized that the residents needed a renewed sense of optimism after a very taxing year. They planned a virtual event to recognize leadership in the community for 20 volunteers who had supported their fellow community members. The city got involved, with Mayor Nenshi attending and nominees also received gold seal city awards. The nominees were recognised by sharing details of their volunteerism and impact stories. There were musical performances by community members, door prizes and activities. The event was an incredible success in renewing community energy. This event boosted community spirit and brought people together to recognize the incredible residents who contribute to vibrant communities. This event brought people together to highlight the assets and leadership in the community. This team has remained committed to supporting residents through an asset-based framework throughout the pandemic, while also working diligently to meet community need during an unprecedented time.