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Distress Centre Calgary / Executive Director  / An update from our Executive Director, Jerilyn Dressler

An update from our Executive Director, Jerilyn Dressler

See this update as a video!

It was a very long winter for all of us here in Calgary and across Alberta – the fourth coldest Calgary winter on record. With warmer temperatures and longer days, there is renewed optimism that spring is near and hope that summer weather is around the corner.

At Distress Centre Calgary, we have been contending with an increase in demand for our services as well as the long, cold winter. Our staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly, striving to ensure that everyone who takes the brave step of reaching out is responded to and heard.

Our 2018 numbers clearly demonstrate the increased demand for our services. In 2018, Distress Centre responded to over 140,000 contacts; a 13.7% increase in the number of contacts served. Online contacts continue to rise dramatically as more and more people prefer to receive support via chat, or chat and text in our ConnecTeen program. We need more volunteers and staff to be able to respond to this demand, as chat and text conversations generally take at least twice as long when compared to a phone call. We were honored to be chosen as one of 19 agencies by The City of Calgary and receive funding to improve access to mental health and addiction supports through our online services.

Distress Centre’s Board of Directors recently approved our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. We have identified four strategic goals that will guide our work over the next three years:

  1. Ensure volunteers and staff are prepared and supported
  2. Increase organizational capacity
  3. Increase new revenue and fund service delivery growth
  4. Secure an updated space that allows for future growth

The week after the board approved the Strategic Plan, the Leadership Team was hard at work finalizing our annual operations plans. The Leadership Team spent a day at the new Central Library. It was an opportunity to connect, team build, and build momentum. We reaffirmed the importance of days spent offsite together, and marveled at the collective knowledge and expertise of the group, knowing that no one person at the table could do the important work of leading Distress Centre alone.

At the end of the day, Clinical Services Manager David Kirby reflected on the first strategic goal, and our objective of creating a culture of self-care:

“Embedding self-care into the strategic plan is the
most significant thing that Distress Centre has
done to support its people. Period.”

I will be providing a more in-depth presentation on Distress Centre’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan at our AGM on May 7, beginning at 4:30pm. We hope you will join us! Please RSVP here by May 1, 2019 if you would like to attend.

Our Impact Funders: