Homelessness, poverty & me

The following is a guest blog post from dedicated community volunteer, Hilary Chapple.

To be involved with an organization such as Vibrant Communities Calgary and the Enough for All strategy has meant many things, on many levels to me, both on a personal level and in a professional capacity.

I have lived in poverty for many years and at the time, I did not realize the implications of what that meant on the overall community, until I became homeless. I studied and had conversations with my peers and colleagues and became involved in community engagement. It was then, I realized the deep implications that poverty can have on individuals, families and the community as a whole. When I was invited to join Poverty Talks! and learned more about the Enough for All strategy, I soon came to the conclusion that poverty affects many walks of life in different capacities.

I have attended several events in the community relating to poverty:

• Many Voices: Conversations about Poverty
• Soul of the City 14: Poverty, Perspective and the Opportunity
• The Sliding Scale Proposal to the City of Calgary Standing Policy Committee
• The Payday Lending Proposal to Calgary City Council regarding a bylaw for payday lenders not to gain a business license within 400 metres from other lending operations in the same city block
• Community Conversations: basic needs regarding goal 3 from the E4A
• Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force with the City of Calgary

I have also participated and worked with the Client Action Committee of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

• The Longest Night of the Year – The first celebration of life and memorial for those in our community who have passed while homeless and/or living on the streets. Interviewed by Global Calgary in regards to this event
• The Homeless Vote – mock election for the homeless in Calgary to exercise their voice in the October federal election. With the initiative, the first ever polling station was set-up in a homeless shelter in Canada
• I have been selected as a keynote speaker at the upcoming 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness in May of 2016

I also had the opportunity to serve on the Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force mandated by the Mayor and City Council. The challenge here is to find some common ground and develop recommendations that will help people who find themselves in need of short term, small loans. This work is vitally important to Calgary, so all in our community can have a greater quality of life for ourselves, our children and grandchildren.

As of last spring, I have taken courses in Non Profit Management at Mount Royal University and I am also taking the ‘Working with Homeless Population’ at the University of Calgary, which is a joint collaboration with the Faculty of Social Work and The Calgary Homeless Foundation. Shortly I am going to apply to take a Social Work Diploma at Bow Valley College.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness is having its fourth annual national conference in November and as such, I have applied for a lived experienced scholarship to attend.

I am grateful for the experiences I have had. My involvement has come together to broaden my understanding of what poverty is in Calgary – and moreover, my own experience of poverty. Furthermore, these experiences have provided me with a great deal of hope for our community. Thousands of Calgarians are working together to make our city an even better place for all of us to live, work and play. I’m proud to be a part of this amazing movement.

In conclusion, I am a driven woman, impassioned by the belief that homelessness and poverty will end or at least be significantly reduced in our great city. I will be there to see this happen.

-H. Chapple

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” Mr. Spock – The Wrath of Khan

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