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Letter from our Board of directors chair and executive director

2020 was an extraordinary year for Distress Centre Calgary, and for the global community as a whole. As we looked back and celebrated 50 years of serving Calgary and Southern Alberta, we were also living through an unprecedented time in our history.

In 2019, we anticipated the office move and our 50th anniversary as the defining events of 2020. No one could have anticipated that a global pandemic would force us to vacate our brand new office space and deliver Distress Centre’s critical services entirely remotely, from the homes of our employees and volunteers. In less than one week, the Distress Centre team moved an entirely on-premise contact centre to one that was entirely virtual. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and the team at Distress Centre certainly rose to the occasion.

COVID-19 has had a sustained and immeasurable impact on us all – our communities, places of work, our homes; our friends, colleagues, family and friends. Nothing and no one was left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Distress Centre staff and volunteers supported service users with the same challenges they themselves were faced with. They remained focused on helping others and also on helping themselves and each other, by building a plan and creating time and space for their own selfcare. They supported their team members and managed to build stronger connections with one another, while staying physically apart. The team was able to continue building a community of care, inside and outside of our agency, in the face of a global pandemic.

The people we serve at Distress Centre were disproportionately affected by the pandemic; in 2020, we experienced a significant increase in suicide-related contacts. Our 211 Program staff made thousands of connections to pandemic-related supports, and became a critical player in the Government of Alberta’s pandemic response. Our clinical team began conducting counselling sessions first by phone, and then by video. Our offsite team at SORCe, the Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre, expanded to meet the increased demand and need for housing and homelessness support.

The Distress Centre team supported our service users through some of their darkest times, while also stepping up their self-care and working hard to build a virtual community of care.

We want to thank our staff, volunteers and Board of Directors for all of their hard work in 2020. We also want to thank our partners, donors and funders; Distress Centre would not have been able to meet the needs of the community through a global pandemic without their support.

Janet Segato

Board Chair

Jerilyn Dressier

Executive Director