2019 Faces of Community

2019 Faces of Community

Frankie got involved with the Acadia Community Association over 25 years ago! She moved into the community in 1974 with her family and her two children were involved in everything, which got her out and about in the community, taking part in community association events and initiatives. Then, after retiring from nursing and her kids out of the house, she needed something to keep her busy. She knew she loved her community and that they needed help at the facility, so it was a perfect fit. Over the years, Frankie has held many different positions on the Board of Directors, and currently sits as Treasurer. She’s known for organizing the annual community clean-up, volunteering at more than 60 fundraising bingos each year, and for being the name behind the community facility concession stand! When asked what she would say to someone who’s thinking about getting involved in their community, Frankie says “It’s a wonderful thing to get first-hand knowledge to use in building the future of your community!”

Zev co-founded the Calgary Association of Skateboarding Enthusiasts (CASE) 10 years ago. He moved to Calgary after we built Shaw Millennium Park, which was the largest skatepark in the world at the time, and he started working there as a skatepark monitor. After a while, he got a group of skateboarders together to talk about how to get more skateparks in Calgary, and in 2008 CASE was incorporated. In 2011, he created a skatepark strategy and made recommendations to City Council which helped lead to the City’s 2013 Skateboard Amenities Strategy. Because of his hard work, Calgary now has six new skateparks with another three planned for this year! In 2017, he also co-hosted a Jane’s Walk with Councillor Woolley whether they visited historic skateboarding spots in downtown Calgary; a walk that was attended by over 30 skaters of all ages. “I think that’s what’s unique about our community: we have this activity that is kind of almost a sport, but it is probably more of a community culture,” says Zev.

Jessica grew up in a small town, where everyone knows each other, and volunteering is just a part of your life. When she moved to Calgary, she wanted her children to have the same small-town feeling in our big city: to feel safe, know their neighbours, and have fun in the community. Six years ago, she started attending Beddington Heights Community Association meetings and it didn’t take long for her to join the Board of Directors and work her way up to becoming President. Beddington Heights doesn’t have a community facility, and Jessica is proud that their community association is still able to offer a before and after school program, many community events throughout the year, and initiatives to help their neighbours. She says, “A few years ago, we decided to bring the Skate Shack to our Winter Carnival to provide free skate and helmet rentals. I remember looking out on the ice to see a group of new Canadians skating for the first time, with huge smiles on their faces, and it made me so happy!”

Beverly has been volunteering with the Greater Forest Lawn Community Connector Initiative for 7 years. She also volunteers her time with Sunrise Community Link’s Stampede Breakfast, annual Family Christmas Party, and quarterly Pay it Forward events. Recently, Beverly started her own initiative called Soaps and Suds. Soaps and Suds addresses a major challenge faced by homeless individuals: maintaining hygiene. Beverly and her team secured a space in the community and rallied support from local agencies so that community members who do not have access to safe, clean showers, can now shower with dignity. The group also makes hygiene and snack bags to offer to these community members. “They have pride when they leave. They don’t have to look down at the ground anymore, they can look up and look everyone in the eyes,” says Beverly.

Paul got involved with the Calgary Evergreen Community Association five years ago to help with traffic and take on the role of Traffic Director. He’s proud to be work with the City of Calgary to identify traffic hot spots in the community and work on traffic calming initiatives and plans to keep neighbours safe. Over the past five years he’s become much more involved and now sits as Vice President helping plan events to bring the community together, like their annual Christmas lights contest which encourages residents to submit photos of their lights to win prizes, and the community association puts the submissions into a map so neighbours can go on a walking tour of all the lights. Paul says, “Not many people know about community associations and what value they bring to people’s lives. If we all work together, it will make for a better community and ultimately a better city to live in as they are all connected.”

Emily has been involved with the Alberta Azerbaijani Cultural Society since she was a young kid, taking part in talent and dance shows, and began formally volunteering 7 years ago. When she was just 14 years old she came up with the idea to host free weekly dance classes for kids in the Azerbaijani community. Within only 2 years the dance group had begun performing at festivals and events across Calgary and were also invited to perform on stage at Disneyland! The group raised money and were able to go showcase their culture on a world-renowned stage. Emily is also the co-founder of JunioYouth Development Society, a group that engages youth in robotics and coding. When asked why she thinks it’s important to volunteer in your community Emily says, “For immigrants like us who left our family and friends behind when we moved to Canada, volunteering in the community is literally like finding a new family which you care about, and you know cares about you too.”

Olga got involved with the Riverbend Community Association two years ago to help design posters for events hosted by the organization which grew into to her taking on more communications tasks and eventually joining the board of directors in the position of Communications Director! She’s now in charge of designing all marketing materials, managing social media, helping with the community newsletter, and redesigning the website. Recently, she worked hard to promote the AGM to hopefully have more residents attend and was successful with 70 people in attendance! She’s excited about getting to meet more and more new neighbours through her role working on recruiting a team of volunteers to help her grow the communications team for the organization. “I’m raising three kids and I want them to feel connected to our community. I want to contribute to making our community more neighbourly and more engaged,” says Olga.

David and his wife moved into Renfrew over 2 years ago and immediately wanted to meet new people and take part in neighbourhood activities. Knowing no one, he attended the Renfrew Community Association AGM, raised his hand to volunteer, and the rest is history! David holds the position of Vice President – External, a role new to the organization, created to increase the engagement of local businesses, other organizations, and neighbouring community associations. This has allowed him to play a very active role in placemaking events where Renfrew has worked closely with community-minded businesses. He’s also the interim treasurer, sitting on the finance committee helping with the finances of the organization. He’s formed great friendships through his involvement, and loves building community connections. When asked what he’d say to someone thinking about volunteering in their community, David says “Reach out! Watch for calls for volunteers! No matter your skills, availability, or interests, I guarantee there is a way for you to help … be the change!”

Larry is the President of the Crossroads Community Association and has been involved with the organization for over 14 years! His involvement started when he coached soccer in the community and volunteered at the preschool. As President, he enjoys all aspects of the role: running meetings, encouraging people to get involved, helping with social media, writing for the newsletter, organizing events like their Summer/Winter Festival, Multicultural Festival, North Yeast Brewfest, and much more. One moment that stands out to him is when volunteering to paint one of our signal box art installations, so many neighbours honked and yelled positive comments which gave him a huge feeling of pride for his community. “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in,” says Larry.

Two years ago Grace got involved with Resident PLEX in her community of Greater Forest Lawn when she saw the need for extra food for neighbours with minimal income. She connected with a local handyman to help her build the first free food pantry for the program. She helped paint, decorate, and stock the pantry and then promote it to the community, encouraging neighbours to take part and monitor the pantry, making it a truly resident-owned initiative. She’s also working on expanding the network to build more free food pantries throughout the community. Grace has also been volunteering with Sunrise Community Link’s KMITT knitting program since it began, knitting items for the program, donating supplies, and helping promote the program. Grace enjoys giving back to her community as she knows what it’s like to not have enough food for her family. She says, “I’m most proud when I see people in the community using the pantry and the happy expressions on their faces to be able to have something to eat.”

Peter helped form and launch the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association (BNA) 3 years ago. As President, he’s involved in all aspects of the organization and has successfully advocated for many initiatives affecting his neighbours, including better traffic calming, bike lanes, Green Line LRT changes, and more. He also works with his fellow board members to host exciting opportunities throughout the year like the annual Beltline Bonspiel outdoor curling tournament, the Backyard Alley Party along 17 Avenue, and the popular and newsworthy Beltline Urban Murals Project (BUMP) that transformed areas around the community into 15 beautiful murals painted by local artists. Beltline is regularly voted as one of Calgary’s top neighbourhoods to live in and he’s proud of the role the association plays in that. He’s also proud of the unique arts hub the BNA has in their home in the historic McHugh House. “Pitching in in our own neighbourhoods helps us get to know our neighbours and build civic pride across the city,” says Peter.