Answering The Call

  • A lone volunteer stands outside the Dashmesh Culture Centre.
  • A group of leaders in traditional garb pose for a photo against a brown wall
  • A woman in a black cowboy hat delivers a red box of Huggies Diapers to another volunteer

When basic needs become immediate needs

Working with our community partners, we built a system of care to encircle people in need. We did this by bringing together partners from across sectors to identify and address our community's immediate needs and ensure no one is left behind.

211 answers the call

From accessing food banks to programs for seniors to relief from utility bills, 211 answered the call 24/7 via phone, text, and online chat. Through our partnership with 211, we were able to identify vital services in high demand and direct funds to the appropriate agencies that provide such services—allowing for the biggest impact.

What were the most needed basics?

  • A collection of icons, reading Peronal Hygiene Items, Groceries, Diapers, and Technology

The pandemic pivot

COVID-19 challenged us all to work together in new ways. Overnight, agencies had to adjust their programming from in-person to online. United Way ensured they had our support and trust to continue offering these vital services to people who needed and depended on them the most.

Taking food banks from indoors to outdoors

In response to the COVID-19 shutdown, we supported agencies in adapting their vital service programs. This included the launch of a drive-through service located at the Genesis Centre, the North of McKnight Community Hub in northeast Calgary. We partnered with Trellis, the Salvation Army, Calgary Food Bank, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, Meals on Wheels, and many others to help provide hot meals and food hampers to anyone who needed it. 

No empty pantries. No empty stomachs.

  • 926


  • 1,939


  • 2,028



total Calgarians fed

The Dashmesh Culture Centre

Hearing of the Genesis Centre's initiative, the Dashmesh Culture Centre decided to lend a helping hand. While people were waiting in line for their food hampers, volunteers from the Dashmesh Culture Centre and Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids handed out hot meals and school lunches to those in need.

  • 54,900

    hot meals

  • 1,260

    lunches to children and teens

  • Photo of workers at Dashmesh Culture centre

Staying apart but remaining connected

Once in-person programming shut down, agencies immediately identified a crucial need for technology to stay connected to clients. To help agency partners continue offering their vital services online, we partnered with Ruckify, the Electronic Recycling Association, and corporate sponsors to deliver the tech (i.e. laptops and smartphones) to our partners.


devices distributed to help Calgarians: Access online mental health support Apply for benefits Continue schooling Connect with family

Mental health support became vital community support

Throughout 2020, anxiety, depressed mood, isolation and/or loneliness continued to top the list of issues on the crisis contact list at Distress Centre Calgary and 211. To help Calgarians during these trying times, United Way supported a number of counselling services, including Rapid Access Counselling through Catholic Family Services, and Community Mental Health Supports for Wellbeing at carya, both utilizing the online booking tool as a part of Community Connect YYC. Calgary Counselling Centre also provided critical virtual counselling supports to Calgarians through their Mental Health Program for Individuals and Families.

Helping Each Other

One community united by one goal.

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