Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society
Our Story Why We Exist
Susan came to Discovery House, like many mothers we support, with a heartbreaking and complicated story. After surviving an abusive relationship for years, she reached out for help to overcome her addictions and be reunited with her two young children. The addiction was a direct consequence of the abuse, and she had asked her mother to look after her children during the recovery period.
But leaving an abusive relationship is a process, not an event, and Susan wanted support to start a different kind of life for her and her family. With the Discovery House team and Child and Family Services, she created a service plan that included safe housing at Discovery House and counseling supports so she could be with her family again.
It was not an easy transition for this young family and Susan struggled with being a full-time parent. For years, her abuser had called her “ugly,” “worthless,” and a “waste of space.” She had no self-esteem, felt incapable of succeeding in anything and thought she was a bad parent. The abusive relationship took a toll on her children, who were often emotional and confused.
Now that the family was together, each individual was paired with a Case Manager and able to receive one-on-one support. Susan and her children all started to feel safer and free to plan for a stable future. Susan registered both kids in kindergarten. She set personal goals and even got accepted into a local college program.
Of course, there were setbacks along the way, but Susan had new tools at her disposal to work through them. The Discovery House team works hard to empower women to take back control of their lives and build a new future free from abuse. With the support of the case managers, this young mother started to believe in herself again and the children got their Mom back, a little bit healthier and happier.
Our Impact What We Do
Leaving an abusive partner is the most dangerous time for women and children who have lived through ongoing abuse. Given the high risk, it is essential that these families have a safe place to stay, heal, and start to plan for a new future.
Founded in 1980, Discovery House was the first long-term women’s shelter in Calgary. Over the years, we have grown to support 120 families at any given time, all on their journey to living free from domestic abuse. We strive to make our communities free of family violence by providing integrated residential and community services for abused women and children to enable them to live safely in the community.
Women with children leaving physical, emotional, financial, sexual or spiritual abuse all receive one-on-one support from trained Case Managers. Together, they determine what their unique goals and priorities are, be that improving parenting skills, finding housing, budgeting and financial assistance, gaining employment, going back to school or legal support.
Calgary has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in Canada. The Calgary Police Service received nearly 16,500 domestic dispute calls in 2013 and nearly 3,000 of those calls resulted in pressing charges against the abusers. This, coupled with low vacancies and high rents means that there is a very real need in Calgary for long-term supports.
Our Programs How We Do It
Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society is comprised of two main programs; the Shelter Program and the Community Housing Program. Teams work with families to obtain housing, fulfill basic needs, and navigate the financial and legal support systems with an emphasis on safety, healthy relationships, and housing stability.
The Discovery House building is home to the Shelter Program. It has 19 apartments and 24-hour security personnel who oversee a state-of-the-art surveillance system. Families are welcome to stay for up to one year, during which time clients and staff work together to connect to services in the community or take advantage of in-house workshops and assistance. Outreach programs continue with each family for one year after leaving the shelter. The team includes Adult Case Managers, Child and Youth Case Managers, Child and Youth Development Workers, a Family Support Worker and a network of peers.
Domestic violence has no boundaries, and the Community Housing Program strives to serve all women and children in need. Keeping that in mind, the Community Housing Program uses the Housing First model to support 100 families affected by abuse in long-term, stable market rental housing. The model has a strong history of success in housing the homeless population, but Discovery House was the first in Canada to apply it to situations of domestic abuse. In the Community Housing Program, families receive support from their Case Manager, a Mental Health Specialist, a Child and Youth Support Specialist and a Housing Liaison. Families are welcome in the program for up to two years. All of our services are individualized and voluntary, so families can access as much or as little support as they desire to accomplish their goals.
Our Requests What You Can Do
As a charitable non-profit, we depend on support from the community to service families in need.
Donate There are 120 families supported by Discovery House at this very moment. Help us continue to provide quality support and services to every single mother and child. For $20,000, you can support one family for one year.
Fundraise There are so many ways to engage your community in supporting families in need. Here we’ve listed just a few: lemonade stand, garage sale, bake sale, guess the baby challenge, walk-a-thon, donations in lieu of birthday gifts, etc.
Purple Heart Gala Every November, Discovery House hosts a Purple Heart Gala fundraiser with delicious food, entertainment and a persuasive silent auction.
Volunteer We are always looking for volunteers to help on a variety of projects like delivering food to the shelter, gardening or tutoring math.
Wish List Many mothers and children arrive at Discovery House with very few belongings. These basic needs items are always in demand.