Help a drop in centre or shelter

The intention of #5DollarFriday and making a #microdonation is that it can be done anywhere, for any charity you want. The goal is to encourage you to donate $5 anywhere, when you can, if you can. It is also about the spirit of helping someone out, paying it forward, changing the world if you will. And it doesn’t need to be $5 but whatever amount you can.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Calgary Drop In Centre, and it led to several of us pooling some money and handing out $5 gift cards to those suffering homelessness. People were so gracious. Not just for the $5, but because someone took the time to say hi, give them a smile, and treat them like human beings. I admit it, I used to be one of those people that judged. Then I took a tour of the Calgary Drop In Centre.

I think most if not all major cities have a drop in centre. Or two. Or three. Or more. It might be called a rescue centre, a homeless shelter, or something else, but they all generally serve the same purpose. Calgary is a city of about 1.1 million people. There are several different shelters that offer different services to about 3500 different people including Alpha House, the Mustard Seed, Inn From the Cold, and the Womens Shelter, but today I want to share just one of those shelters, although the same message applies for all of them.

The Calgary Drop In Centre is the largest facility of its kind in North America. In 2014, they served 10965 unique individuals. Almost 150000 volunteer hours are donated each year, including by their own clients! In fact, 2366 clients volunteered in areas such as the community garden, housekeeping, and laundry.

I have learned that anyone might end up at the Drop In Centre. It might be a former Broadway actor, an artist, your neighbour, the barista that served you coffee this morning, or even YOU. I learned that there are many reasons for this and no, its not laziness! There are a variety of reasons people end up at the Drop In Centre and they are not all necessarily looking for long term shelter. In fact, 67% of clients stayed less than 1 month.

Some interesting facts:

  • Guests staying on the 4th floor have dorms and are allowed to stay as long as they like as long as they meet certain rules which includes volunteering 20 hours a month and taking steps to improve themselves and their opportunities. Last year, the 4th floor clients donated $1100 of bottle money to the Ronald McDonald House. Are you sure you cannot spare $5 for charity this week?
  • The Calgary Drop In Centre placed 11574 jobs through their employment office
  • They distributed 800 refurbished computers. If you have one to donate they would love to have it:
  • 15 At risk youth given apprenticeships at Woodshop through Woodworks program. You can learn more about the Woodshop and items you can purchase:
  • They gave almost 8000 referrals to outside agencies, government services, alcohol and drug treatment and mental health treatment
  • More than once a week last year, 57 times in fact, they had a client pass away. The average age was 52 years old.
  • More than 15000 people in Calgary are 1 paycheck away from homelessness

“People aren’t born on the street, nor should lives end on the street. With help, it’s where some lives begin. Even small donations can add up and make a big difference.” I could tell you so much more, but insteaed, take two minutes to watch this video:

Finally, go to to learn more or donate. Or donate to your favourite charity. Every $5 makes a difference.


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