Bowness Community Cafe

The Cause

Redefin’d is a trauma recovery community that uses therapeutic work to engage at-risk young people in meaningful relationships and experiences that heal the human spirit. Our program participants, known as Krew Members, are young people ranging in age from 18-30 that are navigating the symptoms of emotional trauma, such as mental illness, addictions, homelessness and previous incarceration.

At Redefin’d young people participate in therapeutic work projects that are selected to be hands-on and to inspire a sense of purpose. Meaningful work also serves to reduce barriers faced by at-risk young people by bringing them into meaningful connection with society. At Redefin’d, we believe people are better than the worst thing they’ve ever done, and that hope is what inspires people to redefine their lives.

The Bowness Community Cafe pilot idea is to host a weekly Community Cafe that would be open at Bow Centre Seniors Housing Society complex located in Bowness. This Cafe idea would create an opportunity for seniors to purchase low-cost, homemade and nutritious meals made by the Redefin’d Krew. This project aims to give our young people experience and leadership in designing menus, managing the set-up and operation of the event, and they will have the chance to connect with seniors as they shop for groceries and then gather for the cafe around coffee and snacks.

In addition to building community, this pilot project is an idea that would create a sustainable, therapeutic work project that would allow us to reach more at-risk young people with our program. In developing this idea, our team will realize an opportunity to use excess food from Calgary grocery stores to produce low-cost meals for seniors living in Bowness. This idea will turn our Krew’s commercial kitchen into an opportunity to give back to others in a way that reduces social isolation and food insecurity in our community while allowing for intergenerational connectedness and a sense of belonging, that’s vitally important for trauma recovery.

Who Will it Benefit?

Based on numbers from the United Way it is estimated that 27,000 young people are considered at-risk in Calgary. This number does not include the gap for young people beyond age 24 that have transitioned into adulthood and are still facing similar vulnerabilities. The Redefin’d program hopes to address challenges faced by at-risk young people, especially those that have aged out of the youth systems, that have behavioural issues, financial support challenges, and that have inadequate support to enter mainstream society.

Our model adapts concepts from similar programs using therapeutic work as recovery from around the world. One such mentor, is Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles. They own and operate seventeen social enterprise businesses that serve as the backbone of an 18-month work-based rehabilitation program for up to 250 ex-gang members per year. Homeboy has used meaningful work as a tool for training and recovery for the last 30 years.

Redefin’d currently operates a trauma recovery program out of the commercial kitchen located in the Bowness Community Centre. The Kitchen therapeutic work project has six young people actively participating in our recovery program. Since 2018, we have engaged over 20 at-risk young people in our program, generated well over 2,000 hours of therapeutic work, involved 30+ volunteers, and participated in over 25 community building events. We have hosted pay-what-you-can community lunches, have catered for onsite events, collaborated with community partners, including Carya to make food for community events like Dinner and a Movie at the Maranatha Church in Montgomery. We have also partnered with local urban farmers and gardeners to turn excess locally produced into meals for the community, and we frequently take our excess to stock the local Free Food Pantry.