In honour of their 40th year in business, community partner Westland Insurance Ltd., has generously donated $4,500 worth of in-kind items that will greatly benefit the well-being of our clients as well as the vulnerable population that’s currently bearing Alberta’s cold winter months.
CMHA Calgary is one of the first organizations in the 40-weeks of giving back campaign Westland created as part of their milestone celebration.
“We select an organization every week that supports the communities where we do business, so [CMHA Calgary] is a really exciting opportunity for us because we want to able to support the Calgary community and we know that mental health is just so topical right now and the need for services is only increasing,” said Cari Watson, Vice President of Westland Customer Experience.
Westland provided CMHA Calgary with 300 sets of gloves, toques, scarves and gym bags for our Street Outreach and Stabilization clients to utilize this season.
“The thought of people being cold really got to us so we really want to support people who are having a tough time [mentally] while keeping them warm and safe in the winter.”
First Steps With Mental Health
By partnering with us, CMHA Calgary becomes the first mental health based organization Westland has chosen to support and give back to.
“As we were looking at different opportunities that we have to work with mental health, we wanted to be able to work with [CMHA Calgary] because it’s so important just in terms of community well-being and all the available programs,” Watson said.
Writing a cheque in this case was not enough for Westland to show their support.
With social distancing in place, Jaime Tempeny, Shannon Wheeliker and Jordan Carmichael from Westland Insurance met up with members of our team including Team Lead of Street Outreach & Stabilization, Kayla Johnston, to drop off the items.
“People experiencing homelessness most often do not have a place to store their belongings, therefore they have to carry everything they own. Without bags, our clients will often have to choose which items they can carry with them; this can be a choice between food or additional clothing in the cold winter months. Because of this, bags are often in huge demand from the homeless population and we are extremely grateful for this donation of bags from Westland Insurance,” said Johnston.
Watson says putting in the extra effort to drop off donations and see the facility is an invaluable experience for the entire team.
“Being able to buy those items and tangibly see that contribution that we’re making and to be able to envision how that helps people directly is something that resonated with us and having the opportunity to have our employees contribute to and have that engagement.”
Employee Wellness Important to Westland
As the pandemic continues to disrupt work-home balance, Watson says Westland’s Executive Team has stepped up their leadership by introducing business changes that will focus on client and employee wellness.
“We’re in the early stages of talking about [mental health] more openly within our company. I think COVID has shown a light on the importance of making sure employees are taking time for themselves and reassuring that they have the skills and support that they need to be resilient during these difficult times on top of having their work disrupted.”
The 40-weeks of giving back campaign is a reflection of Westland’s culture of kindness, caring and empathy.
“That theme is supported through our clients, and we understand where people are at right now […] we’re working with partners to understand and deliver solutions to those who are struggling to make their payments due to job loss.”
While checking on her colleague’s well-being during the earlier stages of the pandemic, Watson neglected her own mental state to the point of burnout.
“I could see [exhaustion] in myself so I kept watching my team members to make sure that they feel like they can put their hand up and say ‘I’m maxed out right now and just need some time’ and helping them to manage that.”
Giving Back With Kindness
CMHA Calgary’s Street Outreach Team encourages community members to express the art of giving back by simply being kind to others.
“In addition to donations and volunteering, some of the ‘smaller’ things that people can do is to humanize the more vulnerable population. This can be done by smiling at them on the street, not avoiding eye contact, having a conversation with them, etc. These are actions that can extend past the holiday season and can be incorporated into regular interactions,” Johnston said.
For the 2020 – 2021 winter season, CMHA Calgary Street Outreach and Stabilization Team is still in need of new or gently used winter coats (preferably size large or extra-large) and new sleeping bags. Please contact email@example.com if you are able to assist.
Our Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Counselling programs for Suicide Bereavement and Family Support are also still available through phone at 403-297-1708, email email@example.com or online through Community Connect YYC.