Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre Society
Our Story Why We Exist
My name is Natalie, and I am a Community Advocate at Sunrise Community Link. Back when I started this job, I only had a naive textbook understanding of what poverty was and what it looks like. I was excited to be starting a job that assisted the Greater Forest Lawn Area, because this is where I have lived all my life, but even that didn’t prepare me for the reality that people and families endure while they are living in poverty.
Poverty in Calgary is real, despite our prosperity. Too many families have to choose between buying groceries or paying the rent. Too many individuals have to spend their time jumping through hoop after hoop to qualify for assistance that they are eligible for. And this is where Sunrise shines. As a Community Advocate, I am able to ensure that the basic needs of my clients are met, so they can stop worrying about how they will feed their children next, and focus on improving their skills instead. We help navigate the systems and advocate on behalf of people so disenfranchised that their voices are often ignored, or can go unnoticed.
The clients that we assist are some of the strongest, most resilient people I have ever met. Many of them inherited poverty and circumstances that make it very difficult to get ahead, because so much of their time and resources are stretched thin by just trying to get by to the next day, or the next meal. I’ve met mothers living on $1000 a month total while balancing going to school to improve their English and raising their children within a new culture, but still preserving their own. They are dealt challenge after challenge, but still manage to keep going, and do so with a smile, sometimes through the tears.
I work with Sunrise, because I know there is a need in the communities, and because I know that the means are out there to meet them. I want to be a part of an agency that will make that happen.
-Natalie A., Community Advocate
Our Impact What We Do
Sunrise was created in response to community concerns about social problems in Calgary's east side. In 1997, the Marlborough Social Concerns Network, the Sunrise Community Partnership, and the Family Violence Prevention Initiative, with the encouragement of Calgary and Area Child and Family Services, formed a working committee to address these concerns. There was broad agreement that a centre was needed in east Calgary to provide information dissemination, referrals to services, and more accessible programming. In September 2000, Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre was established.
Sunrise Community Link exists to engage community members in creating their own successes - personally, socially, and financially. There are many opportunities and places to get help in Calgary, but often times, there is a gap between these opportunities and the people that need them the most. As a resource centre, it is Sunrise’s role to address this gap through systems navigation assistance. For many clients, Sunrise is the first place to call when they want to address certain circumstances in their lives, but don’t know where to start. Sunrise offers its expertise on resources, whether that be through the open hearts and minds of its Community Advocates or by sharing the tools needed, but are otherwise unknown to the community members. Our core values at Sunrise Community Link include integrity, empathy, respect & dignity, proactive response, collaboration and honouring people.
Our Programs How We Do It
Sunrise’s programs are offered as a choice and an opportunity for inclusion, education, and personal growth. Offering choice is empowering, and so is offering growth and education. Taking charge of your own life is the key to success. Presenting programming in this way inspires individuals to take control of their own lives and engage in their own enrichment.
Many families and individuals struggle daily to makes ends meet financially, because of barriers to employment, such as not having access to childcare, or not knowing the language. There is an ongoing cycle of poverty that makes it very difficult to break out of once engulfed it. While focusing on surviving it is often difficult to see beyond this panicked state. Sunrise Community Link gives these individuals and families a chance to take a deep breath and let them know they are not alone. With this awareness and the proper tools their focus can be changed from just surviving to thriving. Sunrise does this by way of providing information, referrals and advocacy. Referrals to our partner agencies for such things as food, clothing, household items and furniture are done on a daily basis. This allows clients to access these basic needs without further financial burden. Sunrise also advocates for their families by creating relationships with other workers in the Social Service field. This might be Social workers at Alberta Works or Child and Family Services. It is when these agencies work together with their clients that most goals are met and clients’ needs are satisfied. Advocacy may also come in the form of mediating between a landlord and tenant regarding rental situations. Sometimes all it takes is a third perspective to accomplish something quickly that may have otherwise ended in an eviction and possibly homelessness. Advocacy comes in many forms. Empowering people to advocate for themselves is our ultimate goal.
Our Community Advocates at Sunrise have been trained to facilitate money management workshops. These workshops are offered as an opportunity to look at household budgets and find creative ways to save money, and redirect money to where it will be most beneficial.
To offer a weekly skill-building and socializing opportunity, Sunrise has endeavoured into the realm of social enterprise, by offering Kmitt Knitting Circles. The programs involves bringing socially isolated clients together with volunteers for weekly knitting circles with the goal of making mittens to raise awareness about poverty in Calgary. These mittens are sold using a ‘one for one’ model, so for every pair of mittens sold through this initiative, another will be donated to someone currently experiencing poverty. Proceeds from sales will go to sustaining the program as well as reinforcing the operating costs of Sunrise Community Link.