Launch of Community Hubs Project and the Rotary, United Way and City of Calgary Hubs Partnership

Posted by Laurene Wilson on Jul 11, 2017
On Wednesday June 28 2017, at the Village Square Leisure Centre, Neil Berg, Rotary International District 5360 Governor, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, The City of Calgary and Karen Young, President and CEO of the United Way announced their partnership in creating Community Hubs in Calgary designed to help counter the forces that lead to poverty.
As Rotarians, we want to help others. What better way to make a difference in people’s lives then by reducing poverty.  
The “Enough for All” strategy is predicated on the assumption that there is already enough resources and people working on reducing poverty. What is required is building efficiencies to increase impact.
 
Where does poverty come from? Over the past year the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative (CPRI) consulted with Calgarians about poverty and how it impacts their lives. Through an engagement process involving over 15,000 hours, citizens spoke about the real forces that lead to poverty and trap people within it. 
 
These include:
  • communities where people feel isolated and alone
  • an inability to build up savings and assets
  • services needed that are hard to find and access
  • rules and systems that penalize people for trying to get ahead
  • imposed decisions that don’t reflect community values
The approach to poverty reduction is to address these underlying forces by tackling the roots of poverty and building resilient communities. 
 
Community Hubs…. “Poverty is most effectively reduced when people work together in their communities to develop actions that meet their real needs.”  Community Hubs are about building strong, supportive and inclusive communities. 
 
On Wednesday June 28 2017, at the Village Square Leisure Centre, Neil Berg, Rotary International District 5360 Governor, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, The City of Calgary and Karen Young, President and CEO of the United Way announced their partnership in creating Community Hubs in Calgary designed to help counter the forces that lead to poverty. Six Hubs, serving more than 200,000 Calgarians, are being planned and activated over the next five years (2017-2021) in the communities of Bowness, Greater Forest Lawn, North of McKnight, Sunalta, Village Square and Vista Heights. Speaking to over 400 community residents, Neil Berg said “As a Founding Partner Rotary will be able to follow its motto of “Service Above Self”. Our World Service work shows that we cannot solve problems, we can only enable solutions. Through partnering with the United Way and the City of Calgary and adhering to the values of community consultation and resident leadership we will play a significant role in creating a legacy for our city.”
 
Core to community hub development is residential leadership and the identification of real community needs. Hubs can bring services closer to people in their communities for ease of access and can provide a variety of programmes including childcare, community gardens, mobile health services, civic services, justice services, library services, reception and arts programming, community kitchens, financial literacy, social services, youth and seniors programming, immigration services as well as be potential centres of community economic development activity.
So far, two community hubs are up and running, one at Village Square Leisure Centre and another at the Genesis Centre serving North McKnight.
 
As residents are a part of the planning, and services and amenities are built to reflect each community’s needs, “Listening to residents will inform the next phase of the project and ensure that we design something that meets the need of each community,” said Neil Berg, Rotary International District 5360 Governor
 
While community hubs are being built in other cities, this partnership is the “first of its kind” in Canada, to involve a service club according to Karen Young, president and CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area, but she said she hopes it sparks a trend in communities across Canada.
 
Media coverage of this event included:
 
The Hubs Project Launch and Partnership announcement was accompanied by an outstanding Rotary BBQ, serving up enough food to feed 600.
 
A special thank you to our Rotary BBQ volunteers for making this such a successful event!
 
There are lots of opportunities for Rotarians to be involved in this project. For those interested, please contact District 5360 or the Rotary Club of Calgary, Downtown for more information.