Community Association Awareness Month
Celebrating CHC Partner Edgemont Community Association
“Every now and then I will throw on a pot of coffee and invite the moms in, and that’s when you find out what people really need. Someone will mention needing a mattress or something else and I can put the word out in the community. People have donated mattresses, bikes and lots of other things, it’s recycling” says Barb, the Second Vice President of the Edgemont Community Association. She’s been working with the families at the Calgary Housing Company (CHC) Edgemont complex for a decade.
Barb explains “the community association has a policy of being inclusive, regardless of if someone has money or not” as she goes through the myriad programs the community association and CHC have collaborated on through the years. That list includes the long running breakfast club for students, a community garden, and the accessible soccer program. Barb works closely with Suzanne White, the Tenant Liaison at the Edgemont Complex.
Both Barb and Suzanne speak enthusiastically of the breakfast club. It began 10 years ago after an area school principal noticed many of their students were coming in without breakfast. The principal initially reached out to the community association which began running a breakfast program in the school. The program soon expanded outside the school and began serving breakfast at CHC’s Edgemont complex. However, as the buses started to come earlier and earlier in the morning, the program pivoted to a grab-and-go model. Children received a brown bag containing yogurt, fruit, juice, cheese, granola bars and the occasional treat. The past two years the program has been running no-contact and breakfasts are instead dropped off at student’s houses… they’re hoping to return to in-person pick-ups this September.
The breakfast club has grown massively in the past two years; before COVID-19 there were 45 regular participants, now over 100 children receive breakfasts. The community association fundraises specifically for this program. They’ve also been able to build strong relationships with local businesses who donate to the program. Foothills Alliance Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church help run the program as well. In the summertime, the churches take on the running of the program and instead offer an outdoor lunch on Wednesdays.
The community garden, another successful program run by the community association, had its roots directly in the breakfast club. Barb related that some of the children began to ask here questions about where their food comes from. Rather than simply answering the question, she phoned CHC and asked if she could start a community garden. The day after receiving approval she had a volunteer rototill the front lawn. The garden is largely run by one dedicated volunteer, but the children help with the weeding, watering and other tasks. And the garden provides a direct experience to show where their food comes from.
Another program the community association runs with CHC is Soccer without Boundaries. This leadership-focused program aims to build confidence and remove barriers to participation. Both Suzanne and Barb point to the success of the program – particularly in how it promotes inclusiveness and opportunity. For example, Suzanne explains, if transportation is a barrier to children participating, the program will pay for taxis or gas money to support their involvement.
“People are only too willing to help, they just don’t always know how. They need to hear what opportunities are out there to help” says Barb. it is evident that she has not only built a strong relationship with the CHC staff in Edgemont, but also with the families who call Edgemont home.