When they attended Werklund’s Youth Leadership Forum in September 2016, students at St. Mary’s wanted to help the people who needed it the most. For these high school students, that meant reaching outside of their school, and into their local community. The students decided to get to know the local homeless community and develop human connections with their fellow Calgarians. In December, they made and filled Christmas Stockings of Care, then gave out their stockings at a nearby shelter while serving coffee and muffins.
The St. Mary’s team wanted to develop positive relationships with the homeless population based on principles of respect. By having sincere, informal conversations, the students have been able to form human connections with the homeless population and understand their needs and interests. The students hope that, through these conversations, they can create awareness in the community and work toward sustainable solutions beyond this year.
The students at St. Mary’s are particularly interested in unifying the homeless and non-homeless members of Calgary and developing a fuller sense of community. They recognize that despite the visible presence of Calgary’s homeless population, many non-homeless individuals are uncomfortable interacting with their fellow citizens. This can lead to homeless individuals being marginalized, ignored, or not provided with the respect they deserve. Through their conversations and their contributions, the students at St. Mary’s have begun to shift that culture of isolation so that everyone in their community has the support and respect they need.