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Nov. 24, 2020 | Tyler Difley

REALTORS® Care Week: highlighting housing- and shelter-related charitable work in the Calgary community

Today marks the end of REALTORS® Care Week, an annual event that provides the Realtor community with an opportunity to raise awareness of housing and shelter-related issues and causes. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of the home as a place of safety and refuge. However, thousands of Canadians are homeless or at risk of losing their home, a situation that has only been made worse by the coronavirus, making this year's event especially significant.

Here in Calgary, the CREB® REALTOR® Community Foundation unveiled three new grant streams earlier this year to address housing and shelter issues from several angles. In September, the 2020 grant recipients were announced, encompassing a diverse selection of local non-profits.

Here's some more information about each of this year's recipients:

Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta

Habitat for Humanity strives to provide low-income families with stability and independence through affordable homeownership.

Habitat is constantly in the process of building new homes to expand the number of families it can house, but the organization will be allocating its grant funding to the important work of maintaining and enhancing its existing housing developments.

"It allows us to refurbish the used habitat homes from families who have graduated from our program," said Sue Lee, director of philanthropy with Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta.

"And it's important for two things. One is for new families moving in, you have a refreshed, up-to-date, fixed home ... and the second is, of course, whenever we do this with used homes, then it maintains the affordable housing stocks in the community where it's built, so it lasts longer."

Inn from the Cold

The mission of Inn from the Cold is to create "a community where no child or family is homeless," through a three-pronged strategy of homelessness prevention, temporary emergency shelter and supportive housing.

The organization plans to utilize its grant funding to implement new COVID-19 measures that will ensure the safety of its staff and the families they assist.

"This grant will allow us to install plexiglass at our front intake counter, as well as between some workstations, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to follow the Alberta Health regulations," said Karisha Du Toit, grant writer with Inn from the Cold.

"Ultimately, this set-up will allow us to safely check-in vulnerable families to our shelter and create a safer workspace for our staff. Our mission throughout the pandemic has been to protect the families we serve, so being able to add these extra safety features will help us to ensure the wellbeing of our family members that much more."

Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta

Kids Cancer Care provides support to young people affected by cancer, as well as their families, with a goal of ending childhood cancers. A crucial part of that work is Camp Kindle.

"The kids who go through cancer spend a lot of their lives in hospital getting treatment," said Genine Neufeld, director of philanthropy with Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. "Families often can't go on vacations, kids don't get away, and they feel like they're different than everybody else. Camp Kindle is this refuge and safety for all of them. It is a home away from home for our kids."

Kids Cancer Care will be using its grant funding to keep the camp in tip-top shape, ensuring the best possible experience for the children who visit each year.

"The benefit of this grant is that we're really able to get ahead," said Neufeld. "It really is enabling us to maintain that property, so we can keep housing kids and their families out of camp throughout the year."

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter

Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter (CWES) serves more than 15,000 Calgarians each year in its mission to support those affected by family violence and abuse.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made CWES's work more important than ever and the need for donations especially great.

"In times of crisis, incidents of family violence and abuse can increase," said Kim Ruse, CEO of the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter. "We are grateful to the CREB® REALTOR® Community Foundation for their donation. We rely on the generosity of the community to help us keep those impacted by family violence and abuse safe during the COVID-19 crisis."

Emma Maternity House Society

Emma House is a transitional housing program for expectant mothers at risk of homelessness from Calgary and surrounding areas. The program provides pregnant women and youth with housing and support to create a stable and healthy environment for both mother and child.

Emma House will be allocating its grant funding to important facility upgrades.

"Right before COVID-19, we had the opportunity to move into a building that allows us to serve twice the number of women who are homeless and pregnant, but it's an older building," said Deanna Branson, executive director of Emma Maternity House Society. "So, the significance (of the grant) for us is just being able to have some bathrooms that are up to date.

"It's needed upkeep and it's just really beautiful that we'll be able to do that."

Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society

Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society provides transitional housing, counselling and support to women and children fleeing domestic violence.

"Discovery House is committed to ending the traumatic cycle of domestic violence for women and children so that they can heal from their trauma, achieve self-sufficiency, and rebuild their lives," said Kate Price, director of fund development.

"CREB®'s generous support will help Discovery House maintain the integrity of our second-stage shelter so that we may provide uninterrupted services and a safe haven to women and children fleeing domestic violence," said Price.

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