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“Partnerships driving effective solutions with compassion.”

As we reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of 2023, I am filled with gratitude for the support and dedication of all the volunteers, staff, partners and supporters of Distress Centre Calgary. While the past year was not without its challenges, it also showcased the resilience and compassion of our community when we come together in ways that continue to drive and inspire us.

In 2023, we responded to over 144,000 contacts across our programs. At the heart of these numbers and at the heart of all the work we do, is human connection. A human connecting with another human to offer kindness, guidance and a safe space to turn to during dark times.

We know things have been hard in 2023 and are still tough in 2024. People are struggling to find housing, afford basics, manage relationship stress and take care of their mental health. Many are dealing with multiple issues at once. This has influenced our operations and programming and ultimately, our entire organization. As we confront these challenges, we will continue to adapt and strengthen, ensuring our services remain accessible to all who need them.

Since 2020, we have experienced significant growth in many of our programs and in our operating budget. 2023 was no exception, with one of the many highlights being the launch of 988 on November 30th. This line is answered by staff which has meant a significant increase in our employee numbers.

We are grateful for our many partnerships. We’re working together to solve complex problems with compassion, empathy, and effectiveness. Our commitment to serving the community and providing system leadership through enhanced knowledge and data sharing would not be possible without our trusted partners.

An example of this has been the many community partners coming together in the development of a Community Information Exchange (CIE) in Calgary. The CIE aims to improve access and holistic care for individuals needing support across a myriad of services and systems. Cross-system partners commit to sharing information and coordinating care with each other.

Community is better served when we all come together. Building off the simplicity but power of connection, we will continue to build partnerships, enhance the volunteer experience, and approach our programs and services with an innovative mindset. We are so thankful for every single person that has been part of the Distress Centre story in 2023—and we invite you to join us as we write the next chapter in 2024.

Robyn Romano

Robyn Romano

Chief Executive Officer

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“Empowering lives through compassionate crisis support.”

It’s been an honour to complete my first year as Board Chair for Distress Centre Calgary (DCC), after serving on the Board for the last 4 years. My passion for DCC started in 2016 as a Crisis Line Volunteer, where I learned first-hand that DCC saves lives every day. I have always been a champion for ensuring everyone has access to the social programs and mental health support that they need, especially for those in under-represented groups. Joining the DCC Board and then accepting the Board Chair role was a natural step to further this commitment.

2023 was a difficult year for the community and the world, and we have much work to do at DCC to address challenges and best serve the community. But as we face these difficult times, it is perhaps even more important to take a moment to pause and acknowledge some of the wins from the past year.

988 launched in Canada in November 2023. DCC is a 988 Partner. 988 is a national three-digit helpline that provides urgent, live support by phone and text for anyone who is thinking about suicide, or who is worried about someone they know. DCC is part of the network of crisis lines across the country whose responders take 988 calls and texts.

In 2023, DCC marked the 40th anniversary of our ConnecTeen program. Originally introduced as the Teen Line in 1983, ConnecTeen pioneered a first-of-its-kind concept in Canada, providing a platform for teenagers to connect with peers who could empathize with and comprehend their challenges. In the last decade alone, ConnecTeen has responded to over 45,000 contacts.

We also celebrated the ten-year anniversary of SORCe in 2023. SORCe (Safe Communities Opportunity and Resource Centre) opened its doors on June 18th, 2013, with the goal of creating one location where multiple agencies work together to help people experiencing or facing homelessness. Distress Centre has been an integral part of SORCe since its inception, and through pivotal moments such as the 2013 flood that unfolded just days after SORCe opened, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the housing and addictions challenges we face today in Calgary.

Thank you to the volunteers, staff, donors, partners and advocates who supported the work and mission of Distress Centre in 2023. Join us as we continue on our mission of providing compassionate, accessible crisis and navigation support.

Chantal Milloy

Chantal Milloy

Board of Directors Chair