Holiday Party for those in need
The holiday season is a special time of year filled with warmth, comfort and good cheer. It’s also a time of year when family and friends gather. Horizon Housing Society is a not-for-profit affordable housing provider to over 700 people in Calgary. Many of our tenants are vulnerable Calgarians faced with a variety of barriers preventing them from fully experiencing holiday festivities. As well, many others simply do not have a network of friends and family with which to socialize.
Horizon Housing will be hosting a holiday celebration for our entire tenant family on November 26th. We will bring together tenants and community partners to promote community integration and belonging among a group of vulnerable Calgarians who may not otherwise have an opportunity to share the season with others.
We are coordinating all of the necessary elements to make this event successful. We have rented the Bowness Community Association to host a lunch (1 pm to 3 pm) that will include sandwiches, trays of vegetables and fruit, beverages and sweet treats. We will also rent a Santa suit so that a willing volunteer can put smiles on the faces of children when he hands them toys. We will have a variety of entertainment including a magician, face painter, popcorn maker, photo booth and prizes. Last, we will require audio equipment as well as a photographer to capture the smiles, joy and energy of the celebration.
The majority of our tenants do not own vehicles and many others are in wheelchairs or otherwise physically challenged. We will charter shuttle buses to pick up residents from our seven apartment buildings. Upon arrival, tenants will be greeted with the sound of holiday music, smells of holiday treats and a venue decorated in holiday fashion.
Who Will it Benefit?
Vulnerable populations in our city need a community to support them in their efforts to address the challenges in their lives and maintain their homes long-term. Events like the Holiday Party help to create a community where individuals and families can make friends, establish connections and ultimately develop a support network that helps them better manage life’s challenges.
Each year, Horizon Housing Society raises funds to host two major tenant events. It’s our way of acknowledging how important our tenants are to us. But also, our events help to reduce feelings of isolation among tenants, especially for those without family or friends nearby. Numerous studies have correlated increased health due to social interaction.
Donnie Ryan, a Horizon Housing tenant, believed the 2015 event was more than just a holiday party. “I have had a hard life and battled depression for a long time now. Horizon Housing has really helped me by providing me with a secure place to call my own. It’s very important to me to have my own place where I can cook, clean, and lay my head down every night. Having a home with Horizon Housing and the support through CUPS has truly changed my life around. I haven’t celebrated Christmas in over 15 years. So coming to the party was very special for me.”
This is also a rewarding opportunity for Horizon Housing employees. While many of our staff serve our tenants on a day-to-day basis, this is an opportunity to serve them in a way that goes beyond the typical tenant-property manager relationship. This event allows our staff to create relationships. It’s an experience that staff, tenants, volunteers and guests alike will remember fondly.