Our generosity is what makes us successful

Post Date: Saturday, December 22, 2012
Mayor Nenshi in bowtie and scarfFor many years, I've written a column for the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. Here is my 2012 story:

At this festive time of year, our thoughts turn to family and fun, to great food and forgetting our diets, but also to faith and values, community and giving back.

Calgarians are among the most blessed people on Earth - living in a community of peace, respect and relative prosperity. We are also a generous people - some 85 per cent of us give to charity every year and countless others volunteer their time and talent.

But the most important part of our generosity - indeed, the key to our success - is of another kind. We are remarkably generous in sharing opportunity. We understand that the success of any one of us is the success of all of us, and that every Calgarian deserves a chance to succeed regardless of background or circumstance.

In my time as your mayor, I have been touched by how deeply this ethic is ingrained in Calgarians - how we know we are all family. From the little girl selling her art on Facebook to raise money for the homeless to the corporate CEO spending her time working on creative solutions to poverty, we're all in this together.

This means that we each have the power to make change. Certainly, government must play its part.

This is why I launched, in partnership with the United Way, the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative. The only requirement to participate? You have to be smart, and you have to care. I am very excited about the ideas coming from the initiative, and I look forward to our colleagues in the federal and provincial governments continuing to join the city at the table.

But truly helping those in need takes much more than government.

As much as we hope to change the system so that people don't stumble, we must also be there to catch them when they fall.

Every one of us has the power to make change. No one is too small, no one is too weak, no one has a voice too quiet to make the world better. That's the philosophy behind 3 Things for Calgary - that each of us has not only the power but the responsibility to use our hands, our minds, our hearts and our souls to work for others.

It's also the philosophy behind the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. Every year, the Herald carefully curates a list of some of the very best non-profits in the community and gives us all the amazing opportunity to help them.

The fund won a well-deserved Generosity of Spirit award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals this year for helping to not only give, but to give well.

This year's portfolio of charities is as impressive as ever. These organizations do amazing work for our neighbours in need, whether their issues include addiction, violence, illness or poverty.

I particularly like this year's focus on mental-health issues through organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association (Calgary region), Wood's Homes, Alpha House, EvenStart and Youville Residence. Mental health issues, sometimes accompanied by addiction, remain one of the most intractable problems in our community.

There are other great organizations on the list - from the Boys and Girls Clubs to the Kerby Centre. They are there for us and our neighbours at every point in our lives. And even at the end, Hospice Calgary is there providing care, compassion, and love.

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a community that cares so much, that sees the inherent worth and dignity of each human being. And I thank all those who donate their time and resources, and all of those who have chosen to make their careers in the non-profit sector. It's a great and noble thing to dedicate your life to making the world better for others, and I salute you for it.

I hope that you'll all take the time this season to learn more about these amazing organizations. And I hope you will give, and give generously. Thank you. And from my family to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi