Lending a hand at the DI

July 6th, 2010 by Leah Wong

This year, the Calgary Downtown Association summer teams are helping out at the DI serving lunch every other week.  Before volunteering for the first time, the Off the Wall and HOST teams were given a tour of the centre.

The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (DI for short) provides care and shelter while working to prevent homelessness by providing opportunities and support to help people rebuild their lives.

The DI originated in 1961, starting as a joint initiative of the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Calgary Interfaith Community Action Committee.  The groups split in 1977, and the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre Society was formed.  The current home DI building (423 - 4th Ave SE) opened in 2001.

There are many services offered in this 6 storey building.  The DI can accommodate 1,250 people a night,  which includes both emergency and transitional beds.

Throughout the day three meals and two snacks are served.  Around 3,500 meals are served each day, with meal service available all 365 days of the year.

Housed in the old DI centre, located next door, is the Clothing Centre where clients can go to get up to 5 items of clothing per visit for free.  Washers and dryers for clients are available in the new building.

On top of offering basic care, the DI has many other services to help their clients.  Through the program art.works, clients are given the supplies and guidance to express themselves through art.  The Wild Rose Studio,  a working studio located in the building, showcases art created by clients on the walls.  Located on the same floor of the studio is a music room, filled with donated instruments.

The Wild Rose Studio, in partnership with This is My City, will be selling hand decorated cowboy hats during the First Flip Stampede breakfast on July 8 from 8:00 am to 10:30 am on Stephen Avenue Walk.

Located off-site, the DI has a woodwork shop where clients can learn skills to find jobs and become self-sufficient.  The shop is just one of the ways the DI helps clients to find employment.  Also run through the DI is a three-week program, called the Career Training Initiative.  Both the CTI and woodwork shop aim to provide individuals with skills necessary to hold long-term employment.

There is a large number of services offered within the 107,000 sq. ft building.  Walking through the building shows how the DI not only works  to help individuals in need immediately, but also offers them support so they can become self-sufficient in the long run.

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