2019 was another challenging year for Distress Centre, and for the Calgary community as a whole. The provincial and federal elections of 2019 highlighted the collective difficulties we are facing as citizens of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the world. The divisive nature of our political, economic and social realities became increasingly apparent in the media, and in particular on social media platforms.
In light of the challenges we have experienced in our city and in our province, Distress Centre continued to respond to the changing and growing needs of Calgary’s most vulnerable citizens. Many of the people we serve have been negatively impacted by Alberta’s current economic reality. Thanks to the unwavering focus, determination and hard work of our staff and volunteers, we helped improve the lives of countless Calgarians in 2019. Furthermore, we participated in the expansion of 211 Alberta and the ongoing development of the Canada Suicide Prevention Service. Put quite simply, we continued to support people in crisis by meeting them where they are at, just as we have done since we opened our doors in 1970.
While the work we do at Distress Centre today doesn’t look exactly like it did in 1970, the heart of our work hasn’t changed. Our volunteers and staff are supporting people in real time, around the clock, without judgment… regardless of what the person in crisis is experiencing.
In 2019, 10% of our phone calls were related to suicide, 17.3% of our online chats were related to suicide and 37% of our text conversations with youth were related to suicide. Now more than ever, Distress Centre’s innovative services are needed in the Calgary community.
In 2019, Distress Centre’s Board of Directors approved a new 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. The 2019-2021 plan will help ensure that Distress Centre Calgary can continue to provide compassionate, accessible, impartial and nonjudgmental crisis support; today, tomorrow and well into our next 50 years. The plan puts our people first with an emphasis on self-care and creating a community of care, and focuses on building capacity and leveraging technology. Distress Centre’s office move was approved in 2019; we began the new year with dreams of a refreshed office space, which became a reality in February, 2020.
We want to thank our staff, volunteers and Board of Directors for all of their hard work in 2019. We also must recognize our partners, donors and funders; Distress Centre would not be able to meet the needs of the community without their support. We look forward to supporting the community in our new office space for many years to come, and working towards achieving our vision, “Everyone is heard.”
Janet Segato, Board Chair
Jerilyn Dressler, Executive Director