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