Column: We are a resilient place

Post Date: Friday, December 23, 2016

The following article was published in the Calgary Herald on December 22, 2016. 

It’s Christmas time and time to reflect on the year we’ve had. There’s no denying it – 2016 has been rough. Too many of our neighbours are feeling the pain of unemployment and the uncertainly of not knowing what the future holds.

The pain can be even sharper over the holiday season. Imagine the stress of not knowing if you’ll make your mortgage or rent payment this month or of not knowing how you’ll pay the kids’ school fees. Now imagine the additional stress of the holiday season: not knowing how you’re going to afford gifts or if you can host family for a holiday meal.

This is the reality of too many of our neighbours today.

But we can help. We are a resilient place. We are a place where we look after each other. Now, more than ever, we need to be there for each other. We need to be there for our fellow citizens: our friends, our family, and our neighbours.

At the City of Calgary, we’re working hard to lessen the pain—from freezing property tax rates to investing in new jobs to ensuring public services remain accessible to all. But government is only one piece of this puzzle.

Another piece is our strong and active non-profit service sector—the professionals and volunteers who are there for us when we need them. I think of the folks at the Distress Centre who are available 24/7 for citizens in times of crisis. I think of the Canadian Mental Health Association that bridges the gaps in our mental health care. I think of the dedicated women and men at Alpha House who are there in bitter cold and blazing sun helping people struggling with addiction, homelessness, and mental health. I think of the YWCA, there for women and children at the hardest points of their lives.

The power of the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund is that it brings us together to help those that help our fellow citizens most in need. Every dollar donated goes directly to a dozen powerful community organizations that need our support. And, since 1991, over $24 million has been donated.

This year, those of us who can afford to give need to give just a little bit more. So many of our neighbours want to give, but just can’t this year. Let’s be there for them.

Next year, in keeping with this spirit of giving, I want to do something special. It’s Canada’s 150th birthday, and my dream for this sesquicentennial is that we all give a birthday gift to the nation: three acts of service for the community. We’re calling it Three Things for Canada. Please take a moment to consider two questions: “what am I passionate about?” and “what can I do to help?” And then just do it.

It can be as small as shovelling a neighbour's sidewalk or as complex as serving on a board of directors for a nonprofit organization. It can be whatever you see needs doing in this world.

However, there’s more than just taking action. There is a secret fourth thing: talk about your service to inspire others to do the same. Please visit www.ThreeThingsforCanada.ca to learn more.

Our community is resilient. It’s a resilience built on the actions every one of us takes to help our fellow citizens. This holiday season, let’s commit to doing even more, starting with a donation to the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund.

From my family to yours: have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!