2017 Faces of Community

2017 Faces of Community

2017 Faces of Community

We often hear that Calgarians aren’t aware that our city’s community associations are run by their neighbours and other volunteers in their community.

As a way to highlight and showcase the many different faces of community volunteers, we at the Federation of Calgary Communities launched the Faces of Community in 2017 as part of our March Community Association Awareness Month campaign!

Faces of Community are community volunteers who are passionate about helping improve neighbourhood life in their community. Throughout the month of March we showcased and told the stories of volunteers from community associations across the city, who are all dedicated to their community in a variety of different ways.

Photos by Kelly Hofer Photography

Alicia Clifford

Casino Coordinator

Brentwood Community Association

Alicia has been involved with the Brentwood Community Association for five years, since 2012. She has helped with the hockey program, as a volunteer coordinator, and now organizing the association’s fundraising casino. When asked why it’s important to volunteer in community she said, “we go to work, we come home, we drive kids to where they need to be, etc. Often we do not step outside of our own little bubbles. By helping out in the community you break that cycle. You get to know your neighbours better, build relationships, and watch out for one another. It also allows you to explore areas you never considered before and you can help shape the future.”

Ami Iaria

Vice President

Rosemont Community Association

Ami got involved with the Rosemont Community Association four years ago in 2013 to help them with grant-writing and drafting a business plan. When asked about a moment that stands out to her she said that at their annual Rosemont Round-Up BBQ, attendees from other communities complimented the cohesive and inclusive character of the community, allowing her to see the event through their eyes. It was an outdoor party involving young and older families, seniors who have been living in Rosemont since the 1950s, as well as a family of Syrian refugees who had just arrived in Calgary and moved to Rosemont, all mingling together. She said that the fact that this event was organized by the community for the community gives it a uniquely personal character. “While we have to think globally, it is more important than ever that we act locally. A great way to do that is to join forces with your neighbors in building your community. Community associations offer a unique forum for Calgarians to do just that.”

Cecil (Cec) Jahrig

Past President

Woodcreek Community Association

Cec got involved with the Woodcreek Community Association 12 years ago in 2005 when they were looking for a Casino Coordinator. He stepped up to take on the role, and moved into different positions over the years, eventually ending up as the President! He has a strong passion for his community and being able to improve the community and offer fun programs for his neighbours. Engaged in many projects over the years, his community members share that his passion and ability to bring people together is the driving force for many events like socials, BBQs, and even the building of the Woodbine Skateboard Park a few years back. “No job is too big or too small for Cec. And there is no job that Cec would ask someone to do that he wouldn’t do himself.”

Colin Brandt

President and Communications Director

Parkdale Community Association

Colin grew up in the community of Parkdale as a teenager and fell in love with it at a young age. He left Calgary to go to University but moved back when he was done, settling right back into Parkdale. He got involved with the community association five years ago in 2012 as a way to give back to the community that helped shape him as a young adult. As a community volunteer, Colin truly sees the connection and impact he makes in his neighbourhood, “We serve the citizens of our community – our literal neighbours – and that duty is, in my opinion, the single most effective way for an individual to make a difference in the lives of the people around them.” He says that he may not know every single person in his community, but he knows in his heart that the work the community association does makes their lives a little better.

Emily Gvozdenovic, Astha Burande, and William Li

Edgemont Youth Press (EYP)

Edgemont Community Association

Emily, Astha, and William have been involved with the Edgemont Community Association through the Edgemont Youth Press (EYP) program for roughly two years now. The EYP program offers youth the opportunity to write articles for the monthly community newsletter on topics that they are interested in. Emily and Astha first got involved through their school because they wanted to explore journalism. William got involved when his friends, who were already part of the EYP, recruited him to join and he thought it would be a fun experience. They are all proud to be involved in their community as it’s a diverse and welcoming place that they love belonging to and creating memories in. They’re happy to be able to give back in this way!

Faby Martin

Vice President

Somerset/Bridlewood Community Association

Faby became involved with the Somerset/Bridlewood Community Association three years ago when she wanted to find a way to user her skills to make a positive impact in her city. When asked about a moment that stands out to her she said in April 2016 we organized an event for our Community Garden to kick off the growing season. “It was miserably cold, snowy and windy, but 20 people showed up to help clean our beds and wheel-barrow in new soil. They worked for hours under these conditions; everyone was wet, cold and muddy but when you looked around, all you saw were smiles on people’s faces. That, right there, felt like a real community.”

Harpal and Naureen Singh

President and Volunteer

Falconridge/Castleridge Community Association

Harpal and his daughter Naureen have been involved with the Falconridge/Castleride Community Association for three years now. Harpal saw an opportunity to join the Board of Directors in his monthly community newsletter, and after attending a few meetings he decided to step up and join. Naureen was 14 years old when her dad got involved and she needed help working on her communication and leadership skills and going to community events with her dad and talking to neighbours pushed her out of her comfort zone and helped her work on those skills. Harpal feels his community association is his link to his community. It provides his family with opportunities to connect with others, share their views, and work towards a shared vision for a great community for all. “Community associations provide a great platform for integration, getting invaluable experience, sharing skills and knowing what goes in the community. They give you a sense of belonging. They are like a big family!”

Jean Darius

1st Vice President

Southview Community Association

Jean has been involved with the community for a number of years as a member, stepping up to take on the position of 1st Vice President last year in 2016. When asked what he enjoys the most Jean states “The camaraderie for sure. Plus it’s great to see our community transition and incorporate new programs and events.” Jean is extremely proud to have gotten the community ice rink back up and running after nearly 20 years of not being used. It takes a lot of volunteer time and effort but seeing residents of all ages enjoying it makes it all worth it. His message for others looking to volunteer is to do it “[b]ecause it creates a sense of community. As people see their neighbors and friends partake in community events this encourages them to take part in the action. As a result, everybody wins!”

Karl Sonnichsen

Communications Director

Winston Heights/Mountview Community Association

Three years ago Karl was curious about what was happening in his community of Winston Heights/Mountview when he happened upon an advertisement from the community association looking for a Communications Volunteer and he thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him. He loves his community so being able to share what’s going on in the community and engaging others to get involved makes a great community even better! Since then, getting to know his neighbours, being able to share his thoughts and visions for the community, and getting to take part in so many initiatives keeps him motivated and engaged. Karl also says “it’s also a lot of fun” and to “[c]ome to a board meeting, reach out to the board just take that first step! There are many roles so you can either use current/past skills or use the opportunity to learn new ones!”

Noshy Karbani

Vice President

Taradale Community Association

Noshy got involved with the Taradale Community Association 11 years ago in 2006 when the community association set up a booth in her local supermarket and she stopped to find out what they were about. Since then she has been a part of many exciting initiatives and events that she looks forward to year after year. When asked what keeps her motivated she said that over time she has seen the community spirit grow and neighbours come out to more events, encouraging her to stay involved. She thinks it’s important to volunteer in your community to get to know your neighbours and says “if you give it a try you will be hooked!”

Omar Masood


Beltline Neighbourhood Association

Omar got involved with the Beltline Neighbourhood Association last year in 2016 by attending a meeting and simply putting up his hand when they asked for volunteers. He loves his community and wanted to help keep it that way and help make it even better. Proud of the diversity and inclusiveness of Beltline, Omar remembers how his community came together during the 2013 floods “Never before in my life had I seen so many people coming together, with determined purpose, to meet the challenges posed by such a disaster. The Beltline is a generous place and seeing how neighbours came out to help one another convinced me that there is no place like our city and our neighbourhood in the world.” He believes that the best way to build community is to get involved in creating the type of neighbourhood you want to live in, and what better way to do so than volunteering with your community association?!

Pete Steenaerts


Sage Hill Community Association

Pete grew up in the community of Brentwood and took part in the many offerings the community association had to offer. When he moved to Sage Hill there was no community association yet and he wanted his children to have access to the kinds of programs he did growing up so along with another community volunteer, he stepped forward to get the Sage Hill Community Association up and running. Pete says that seeing a field full of kids playing soccer, hundreds of neighbours coming together for a community party, and other results of his hard work right in his own backyard makes it all worth it. What does Pete have to say about getting involved with your community association? “Don’t be scared! Many people are intimidated by the thought of taking a formal role in their community association, but these are your neighbours! There is power in numbers, and your help is always welcomed and needed.”

Sonja Sahlen

Director of Sports and Recreation

Haysboro Community Association

Sonja became involved with the Haysboro Community Association four years ago in 2013 when the association took on a plan to revitalize an old playground into a new nature park, and she stepped up to take on the lead role in managing the project. She has formed lifetime friendships with people she has met through the community association and it is truly inspiring to see a group of volunteers come together to plan so many things for residents. She says that joining her community association has allowed her to work together with others to take on projects to help identify and meet the needs of the community. Sonja encourages others to take part too and says “Jump right in! Say your idea out loud. Come to the board meetings and introduce yourself, there is a space waiting for you. Wanting to help others, and making the time to learn about your community association are the only prerequisites you need!”

Wendy Kennelly

Co-Chair, Capital Campaign Committee and Past President

Chinook Park/Kelvin Grove/Eagle Ridge (CKE) Community Association

Wendy got involved with the Chinook Park/Kelvin Grove/Eagle Ridge (CKE) Community Association seven years ago in 2010 when a neighbour invited her to join the board shortly after she moved into the community. She feels that you don’t just buy your home, you buy your neighbourhood, and because she felt blessed to live in such a great community she was happy to give back. She has worked on many different projects in her time ranging from fundraising events to community gatherings, and she feels proud that a small group of committed volunteers have such pride for where they call home. Wendy thinks volunteering in our communities is important because together “[w]e can work to make our city better and our neighbourhood a safe, inclusive place to live.”