Lend An Ear Month

We hope you enjoyed Lend An Ear Month! Thank you for joining us this month as we revisited some of the great moments we’ve shared at Lend An Ear since 2011. We missed seeing all your faces last week and we hope to see you in person next year!

All the videos, photos and stories are here on the site for you to enjoy. To get started, watch a video greeting from our Board Chair, Janet Segato.

Lend An Ear is Distress Centre’s signature fundraiser and we depend on it to raise much needed funds to support our crisis services. The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty and distress for our entire community. It is important now more than ever that our services are available to anyone who needs them. Thanks to the support of our amazing Lend An Ear sponsors – Viewpoint Foundation, LAN Solutions, GLJ Ltd., and Altitude Communications – donations to Lend An Ear 2020 will be matched! Please donate now.

What Your Donation Can Do


Sponsors one week of text messaging traffic for youth to have a safe place to reach out to.


Sponsors one online chat shift.


Sponsors an overnight shift from midnight to 7 am.


Puts 1 volunteer through Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) training.

Roxanne with keynote speaker Big Daddy Tazz at Lend An Ear 2016. Photo by Gilmour Photography.

Roxanne Cote reflects on 10 years of Lend An Ear – Distress Centre’s signature fundraiser

Roxanne Cote planned and executed the first Lend An Ear in 2011 (then under a different name) and has led the planning and execution every year since. In this guest post, she reflects on Lend An Ear’s humble beginnings, the community support that helped grow the event to what it is today and some of the special moments in between.

Lend An Ear Through the Years!

Revisit some of the great moments we’ve had together since 2011! Watch our video slideshow and then check out the timeline with some photos and fun facts from each year.


Looking back at Lend An Ear in 2011, the very first year we held the fundraiser. In 2011 we called the event “1 Hour out of 24.” We invited guests to take an our hour of their day to learn what 1 hour out of 24 looks like at Distress Centre and gain a better understand of what it means to be a 24 hour agency.

Here are a few fun facts from 2011:

  • The event took place on September 13, 2011 from 8-9am at what was then called La Joie de Vivre on 14th Street.
  • Katie Black was our Keynote Speaker. She was a crisis line volunteer and later a staff member in the ‘80s (and contributed greatly to our 50 Stories series) and was then the manager of the City of Calgary Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). Look for a video message from Katie later today!
  • Robin Sandor, a crisis line volunteer and Board Member, also spoke.
  • Crew Energy, Hazco Engineering and Straus Engineering sponsored the morning.

Take a look at a few photos from the morning!


Looking back at Lend An Ear 2012 or as we called it then, “Distress Centre Breakfast Fundraiser” (we liked to keep it simple!). Angela Kokott, Host of Calgary Today on QR77 Radio, MCed the morning. She MCed for us for seven events total!

Watch a video message from her:

The 2012 event took place on Thursday, September 13th from 7:30-9am at what was then called La Joie de Vivre on 14th Street.

Kent Hehr (then MLA for Calgary Buffalo) and Jamie Niessen (then CEO of Volunteer Calgary) spoke at the event. Angela also hosted a panel discussion with DC volunteers.

Take a look at a few photos from the morning!


Lend An Ear 2013! This was the first year that we officially used the name “Lend An Ear Breakfast.” We chose the name because we wanted guests to “lend their ears” for the morning as we shared stories and experiences of why Distress Centre exists and the impact of our services.  

In 2013, Casey Eagle Speaker, Blackfoot Elder and then the Cultural Advisor at the University of Calgary and Aboriginal Resource Coordinator at Hull Services spoke, as well as Dr. Michael Trew, a DC Board Member and at the time the Chief Medical Officer at Alberta Health Services.

Heather Innes, then a Connector with United Way of Calgary and Area, was our Keynote Speaker. Heather used Distress Centre’s services and says that she is here today because of it. She is a huge advocate for DC and we’re grateful to have her support.

The event took place on Thursday, September 19th, 2013 from 8:00am to 9:00am at the University of Calgary – Downtown Campus. 

Take a look at a few photos from the morning!


Lend An Ear 2014! Olympic Medalist and World Champion Silken Laumann, was our keynote speaker. Guests still talk about her powerful speech in which she shared her personal struggle with depression. 

The 2014 breakfast took place at the University of Calgary Downtown Campus on September 24, 2014 from 7-9am.

This was the first year we were fortunate to have Brett Gilmour, of Gilmour Photography, photograph the morning.

Take a look at some of his beautiful photos.


Lend An Ear 2015! The talented Tom Jackson, founder of The Huron Carole Benefit Concert Series, musician, beloved TV personality and champion for the homeless, headlined our breakfast in 2015. He delivered a speech and delighted the audience with a musical performance.

Lend An Ear 2015 took place on September 23rd at the Metropolitan Conference Centre on 4th Ave from 7-9am. We had the privilege of having both Angela Kokott and Gord Gillies MC the event.

See a few photos taken by Gilmour Photography to relive the morning!


Lend An Ear 2016! Big Daddy Tazz, comedian and motivational speaker, headlined the event. Tazz’s ability to make the audience both laugh and cry as he spoke candidly about his struggles with mental illness resonated deeply with our audience and we have received requests to bring him back ever since.

We were excited to do so this year for the 10th Anniversary of Lend An Ear, and we’re disappointed that we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see him again. He did share a video message with us though! Take a look:

Angela Kokott and Gord Gillies co-MCed the event, which took place on September 22, 2016 at the Metropolitan Conference Centre on 8th Avenue from 7-9am.

Another highlight of the morning was a music performance by Chuck Rose, a Distress Centre volunteer and singer/songwriter. He wrote and performed the “Distress Centre song!”

See a few photos from the morning, courtesy of Gilmour Photography.


Lend An Ear 2017! We decided to bring in another comedian for our final breakfast year after the overwhelmingly positive reviews we received in 2016. David Granirer, a stand-up comedian and counsellor, headlined the morning. He is the founder of Stand Up for Mental Health, a program that teaches comedy to people with mental health issues.

Angela Kokott MCed the event, which took place at the beautiful and historic Odd Fellows Hall on September 21, 2017 from 730-9am. This was the last year that we held a breakfast event.

Take a look at a few photos from the morning! Courtesy of Gilmour Photography.


Lend An Ear 2018! This is the first year we held an evening event. Lee Horbachewski called our crisis line in 2004 and credits the call with saving her life. Since then, her and her family have been donors and advocates for Distress Centre. Her husband Neil volunteers on our crisis lines.

In 2018, she shared her story of darkness, hope and healing with our guests. Watch a video message from her:

Jim Ryan, a monthly donor, shared his own story of overcoming addiction and mental health struggles. He shared why he is a Distress Centre donor.

Dominik Diamond, then the morning host of JACK 96.9 FM, MCed the evening. The event took place on September 20, 2018 at Crescent Point Energy from 4:30-8pm.

Let’s Talk Lexi took beautiful photos of the evening. Take a look!


Lend An Ear 2019! It’s hard to believe this was a year ago. NHL hockey player, author and coach, Bob Wilkie was our keynote speaker. He spoke about his own struggles with his mental health and how he ultimately found purpose as a coach and mentor. His story was a positive message of hope that left the audience leaving inspired.  

In his video message, he shares a few of his favourite moments from last year’s event, including learning that his mom called our crisis line in 1998.

Crisis line volunteer, Chuck Rose also spoke. Lauren Pullen from Global Calgary MCedthe evening. The event took place on September 24, 2020 at the University of Calgary Downtown Campus, from 4:30-8pm. Here’s a video message from Lauren, who would have MCed for us this year:

Take a look at a few photos, taken by Gilmour Photography.

Funds raised reflect matched amounts by our sponsors.

Thank You to our Sponsors!

Thank you to our Lend An Ear sponsors! We’re so grateful they chose to continue to sponsor Lend An Ear 2020, despite the fact that we are not holding an in-person event this year. They’re matching Lend An Ear 2020 donations. Donate now!

Sponsor Messages

GLJ Ltd.

Thank you GLJ Ltd. for continuing to sponsor Lend An Ear 2020 even though we were unable to have an in person event. Watch this special video message from them on why they choose to support Distress Centre.

Viewpoint Foundation

A Lend An Ear Month Message from Karen Macdonald, who works at Viewpoint Foundation. Karen is also a Distress Centre crisis line volunteer. Viewpoint Foundation has been the Keynote Speaker Sponsor of Lend An Ear for several years, allowing us to bring in some incredible speakers. Thank you Viewpoint Foundation!

Altitude Communications

Distress Centre has partnered with Altitude Communications for over ten years – they provide the communication platform that allows us to connect with callers. Their president, Marshall Anderson, speaks from the heart about how Altitude’s involvement with Distress Centre helped him better understand the importance of mental health.

LAN Solutions

LAN Solutions has provided IT services for Distress Centre for over 20 years! They have sponsored DC events for many years, including our Volunteer Appreciation Event and now Lend An Ear. See a message from LAN Solutions President, Mark Allison:

Our Impact Funders: