Patricia poses in front of the Sunrise Community Link centre, a United Way partner agency

In November 2016, Patricia’s life was a stark contrast to what it is today. After fleeing an abusive relationship, she sought refuge in a women’s emergency shelter.

“I left my partner because it was time for me to look after myself and my kids, to secure a better life for us. Living in the shelter was incredibly hard. I thought about my children’s future every day.”

Determined to provide a safe home for her children to grow up and thrive in, Patricia turned to Sunrise Community Link, a United Way partner agency that supports families and individuals experiencing poverty or a crisis by helping them overcome adversity and build skills. There, a community advocate helped Patricia secure the funds she needed to pay the damage deposit for her new rental home.

“When I left the shelter I was happy. My children and I finally had a roof over our heads and a place to call our own.”

To Patricia, that was only the beginning of a new life founded in hope.

“I applied for social assistance but I knew I couldn’t stop there. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I looked into the various programs Sunrise offered and I decided to apply to Sunrise $avings, a six-month program that teaches participants how to save and manage their money. I graduated from the program and with the funds I saved, I was able to buy furniture for our new home.”

With a place to call home, Patricia found a renewed energy and confidence that she didn’t know she had. A few months after leaving the shelter, Patricia decided to take the admissions test for Bow Valley College’s Aboriginal Upgrading program. She received her acceptance letter in the mail a few weeks later, and has been busy making plans for her future ever since.

“In five years, I see myself still in school, studying to become a nurse. In the meantime, I am going to focus on myself and my kids. After all that we’ve been through, I have hope. I finally feel like I have healed from my past. I dealt with it, I’m done with it, and now it’s time to move on. I can finally see a bright future for myself and my kids.”

Work in action

Patricia left an abusive relationship and went to a shelter

Accessed Sunrise Community Link, a United Way partner agency

Secured a rental home and bought furniture with the money she saved through Sunrise $avings

Upgrading at Bow Valley College so she can become a nurse

 

Patricia poses in front of the Sunrise Community Link centre, a United Way partner agency

In November 2016, Patricia’s life was a stark contrast to what it is today. After fleeing an abusive relationship, she sought refuge in a women’s emergency shelter.

“I left my partner because it was time for me to look after myself and my kids, to secure a better life for us. Living in the shelter was incredibly hard. I thought about my children’s future every day.”

Determined to provide a safe home for her children to grow up and thrive in, Patricia turned to Sunrise Community Link, a United Way partner agency that supports families and individuals experiencing poverty or a crisis by helping them overcome adversity and build skills. There, a community advocate helped Patricia secure the funds she needed to pay the damage deposit for her new rental home.

“When I left the shelter I was happy. My children and I finally had a roof over our heads and a place to call our own.”

To Patricia, that was only the beginning of a new life founded in hope.

“I applied for social assistance but I knew I couldn’t stop there. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I looked into the various programs Sunrise offered and I decided to apply to Sunrise $avings, a six-month program that teaches participants how to save and manage their money. I graduated from the program and with the funds I saved, I was able to buy furniture for our new home.”

With a place to call home, Patricia found a renewed energy and confidence that she didn’t know she had. A few months after leaving the shelter, Patricia decided to take the admissions test for Bow Valley College’s Aboriginal Upgrading program. She received her acceptance letter in the mail a few weeks later, and has been busy making plans for her future ever since.

“In five years, I see myself still in school, studying to become a nurse. In the meantime, I am going to focus on myself and my kids. After all that we’ve been through, I have hope. I finally feel like I have healed from my past. I dealt with it, I’m done with it, and now it’s time to move on. I can finally see a bright future for myself and my kids.”

Work in action

Patricia left an abusive relationship and went to a shelter

Accessed Sunrise Community Link, a United Way partner agency

Secured a rental home and bought furniture with the money she saved through Sunrise $avings

Upgrading at Bow Valley College so she can become a nurse

Rama, her husband, and two daughters smile while sitting in a community program in their new home in Canada

My family had a good life in Syria before the war. My husband was a lawyer and I taught at the local university. But after the war began, our lives quickly changed. I would say goodbye to my daughter every time I left the house, unsure if I’d ever return. When it became too dangerous to even walk out our front door, we knew it was time to re-locate.

 

 

We were scared and increasing hopeless as we waited for our refugee application to be approved. When we finally arrived in Canada, it was a huge relief. A life in our new country brought safety, but also a new language and culture. We felt lonely and overwhelmed. We quickly realized we’d need more help to settle in our new home.

Fortunately, we met some fellow Syrians who told us about a United Way funded agency that provides newcomers like us with support and settlement services. They helped us access health care, get insurance, and provided us with daycare for our daughter so we could take language lessons. I was especially grateful for the social aspects of the agency’s programming. They not only help newcomers integrate into the community, they also help our community get to know us. They helped us turn our community into a home.

Today, when I think of the future, I have hope. I am incredibly grateful to United Way donors who help new Canadians like me thrive in my new community.


We are all Calgary.

Together, we are all stronger. Meet a few of the 178,700 people like Rama who are helped each year.

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Anna smiles in her home away from home: United Way of Calgary and Area's campaign associate bullpen

When I was a kid, my aunt had a rule about money: “Save a third, give a third, spend a third.” After graduating from university, I was offered a position at Imperial and had the option to settle in several cities. I chose Calgary, not knowing this random decision would turn into a love affair. There’s just something about this city. The people are very welcoming, and you don’t have to be born here to quickly feel like a Calgarian, which is pretty unique.

For the past eight years I have taken my aunt’s words to heart, donating my time, money, and energy to United Way. My love for Calgary is one of the driving forces behind my passion and support, which I consider an investment in my city – one that must achieve results.

When I consider my donation, I look at the results United Way has achieved and what their forward-looking plans are. One of the reasons I support the organization is because I’m interested in impactful results, not Band-Aid solutions. I’m proud of what United Way is able to accomplish.

Being open about giving at such a high level isn’t something that comes easily to me. It’s not in my nature to talk about donating. But I’ve come to realize that talking about it and normalizing it is really important. It shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be a priority.


We are all Calgary.

Together, we are all stronger. Meet a few of the 178,700 people who are helped each year.

Read more stories


How you can help

Donate

Gifts of as little as $25 have a huge impact in our community. Support meal programs to help end poverty, help kids succeed, and build strong communities.

Give today

 

Alasdair stands in the very kitchen that helped him when he needed a meal

I worked in the food and hospitality industry for most of my life. When I lost my job, I worried about where my next meal would come from. For a while, money was really tight and then got to a point where I couldn’t even afford a meal.

Living in poverty can make you feel helpless. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I was afraid for the future. Feeling lost, I decided to stop by a United Way funded agency that provides services and free meals to those in need.

 

 

Having access to a nutritious meal can make a real difference in a person’s life. Not having to worry about where my next meal was coming from allowed me to focus on other things. I accessed skill-building programs offered at the agency and my confidence started to grow. Then, an opportunity to volunteer in the same kitchen that fed me when I most needed it arose, and I was able to contribute and give back and help in my own way.

For people living in poverty, having access to a healthy meal is important. But sharing a meal means a lot, too. It makes people feel better about themselves — and it builds a real community.

Today, I have a full-time job at a community centre. I am also proud to say I continue to volunteer at the kitchen — because I know just how life-changing one meal can be.


We are all Calgary.

Together, we are all stronger. Meet a few of the 178,700 people like Alasdair who are helped each year.

Read more stories

How you can help

Donate

Support meal programs to help end poverty, help kids succeed, and build strong communities.

Give today