Carya Society of Calgary

We support people in every life stage: from new parents and babies to teenagers and older adults living in ever-changing communities. For over 100 years, we’ve supported the city we love and the communities that make Calgary an amazing place.

carya's LogoOur Story Why We Exist

"Before Starburst, I never had such direct, positive and stable influences in my life. The adults closest to me at that time took part in substance abuse, had untreated mental illnesses, and had a direct and/or indirect connection with emotional and physical abuse. Even the adults that were my coaches or teachers never overly believed in me because I was never the MVP.

But the connections and support I found through the Starburst program helped create a spark in me that helped me believe I was worth something, I am resilient, and that there are people out there who support me unconditionally to this day and have proven to me that it’s okay to trust and ask for help when it’s needed most."

- JENNA, STARBURST ALUMNI   For more about Jenna’s story see


carya provides social services for Calgarians in every life stage; from babies and new parents, vulnerable teenagers, older adults and everything in between. In the last year carya has made a positive impact on the lives of more than 40,000 individuals living in Calgary.  

These are just some of the impacts we're proud to have made in our city:

  • 84% parents reported an improvement in parenting skills after participating in carya programs 
  • 80% of families in counselling reported positive change
  • 74% of girls in carya school programs increased in self confidence
  • 5,000 vulnerable older adults supported annually
  • 1,400 older adults engaged in community contribution each year

carya representative connecting with older adults in the communityOur Impact What We Do

Formerly Calgary Family Services, we rebranded at the end of 2014 to become carya. Our name comes from the hickory tree which is known for it's deep roots, resiliency and longevity as well as for providing shelter and protection to those around it. 

carya is committed to engaging individuals, families and communities to realize their potential. We do this by creating environments which support healthier individuals and addressing those social and emotional problems which are known to impact the standard of living experienced by many in our city.

Our key areas of focus are:

  • Childhoods that prepare and propel youth towards future success
  • Parents who are confident, enabled and supported in raising families
  • Stress reduction and management for those who are overwhelmed
  • Security of housing and food supply for the city’s vulnerable
  • Early literacy and lifelong learning  and contribution across the age-span
  • High school completion for vulnerable teens and tweens
  • Socially connected and safe communities for families, individuals and seniors
  • Long-term poverty reduction through education, resources and community
  • Access to opportunity regardless of gender, race, creed, financial position, background or sexual orientation

In 2015, carya:

  • Served more than 40,000 children, families, parents and older adults
  • Supported more than 11,000 vulnerable families
  • Provided 38 different programs & projects to older adults
  • Provided programming in many languages including Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, French, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu
  • Served over 5000 Calgarians in crisis intervention
  • Introduced new programming to Calgarians, including Families Helping Families and Parenting the Nurturing Way
  • Educated 982 people in professional development and community awareness campaigns through the carya Institute

We’re proud to be one of the city’s longest serving social agencies.  Our staff are experts in their field and we strive for excellence in every aspect of our work.

Older adult in carya program participates in craft activity.Our Programs How We Do It

carya currently has 150 staff, from social workers and counsellors to therapists and school program facilitators. Our teams work across four distinct areas:

1. Children and Parenting

We work with vulnerable families and parents to strengthen the family unit and connect families to their communities. Our children and parenting programs focus on parenting skills, attachment through play therapy, early literacy, and promoting a nurturing approach to raising children.  

We also provide urgent intervention care and support for those going through the adoption process. Our sole focus is always ensuring children remain with their family where possible, reducing toxic stress and promoting healthy brain development in the early years. 

2. Teens and Tweens 

Vulnerable teenagers need our support more than ever. carya's school programs work with teens from Grade 6 to Grade 11 to support them through this important second stage in brain development. Our programs for boys and girls are designed to promote healthy relationships, self confidence, self awareness and empower youth to take control of their own life trajectory.

We work with teens outside of the school environment with workshops and one-day programs to empower and develop resiliency. We also support the entre family unit through family counselling programs.

3. Community Development 

Our community development teams work with older adults to help bridge the gap between them and their communities. We focus on empowering older adults to become leaders and contributors, passing on their life experience to the next generation.

Community development also includes our early literacy partnership in Bowmont, Bowmont Families Together, which promotes a community approach to raising children.  

4. Older Adults 

Calgary is home to more than 133,000 older adults. We offer practical support that allows seniors to remain in their own homes and communities and connects them to services across the city, support groups, counselling and more.

Carya is also the lead partner in Calgary's Elder Abuse Response Team and Resource Line which supports victims of elder abuse and their families while also educating professionals and the public on this growing concern in our city. 

carya is hereOur Requests What You Can Do

Now, more than ever, we need your support.

We need you to help us tackle big issues in our city. Issues like poverty and literacy, social justice and resiliency, abuse and neglect. While others see one million people, we see one million ways to care.

Every dollar donated stays in Calgary.

By donating to carya, you're making a donation to the city of Calgary and an investment in confident individuals, strong families and engaged communities for us all. We welcome donations to carya in general or you can donate to one of our areas of work: 

  1. Children and Parenting, 
  2. Teens and Tweens, 
  3. Community Development or 
  4. Older Adults.

Your donations make a difference in the work we do and allow us to better serve those who need us the most.

A donation to carya is a donation to our city's families, children, vulnerable individuals and older adults.  A donation to carya is a donation to the city we love. Please contact us at 403.205.5225 or email us for more information about philanthropy at carya.

Interested in Volunteering with carya?

Our volunteer needs are project-based and flexible to meet the needs of individuals, groups, or corporate volunteers.

If you’re looking for a meaningful way to give back to the people around you, get in touch with us today. Email for more information and see our website for current volunteer opportunities.


Heather Gummo
Communications Specialist
Charitable Number: 118823475RR0001

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