Thanksgiving is the best time of our year! It presents the formal opportunity to say thank you to all the folks for all the ways that your interest and support sustain young people striving toward their independence in mainstream society.
Together we continue our mandate toward Social Change, to offer young people more effective options to support their efforts to leave the streets. We continue to be an experiment and a place of learning from each other.
Young people living on the streets is just wrong – for us, the responsible adults who are ‘in charge’, AND for young people who experience the society we offer them as a context for their growing up.
News! Current international Evaluation Research in a number of contexts working with young people ‘at risk’, shows a statistically significant impact of real people in real time contributing to the success of young people. The Doorway Approach has been identified to be consistent with this insight.
In November, we have been invited to join other project leaders from around the world to participate in a UNESCO sponsored symposium. The collaboration will be a robust exchange, putting into words the learning and practice recommendations for community youth engagment which can be shared & translated into policy.
We are excited for this opportunity to share what we have learned about the power of self-determination, and the capability of young people using their personal agency to become accountable to themselves, and take charge of their own choices and lives.
As you explore these pages, you will recognize that our Community Approach is our strength and trusted context for young people. We are ALL cultural beings. Our cues for learning how to fit into our individual ‘worlds’ is learned in conversations and interactions with people who share our spaces.
This year has been an exceptional year for Kaitlin O’Grady, our Lead Facilitator. She has designed and overseen the software development of WE, our Qualitative Database of 30 yrs of archived and current participant writing, supervised 3 internships and 2 new part time staff, trained all new volunteers, and initiated The Listening Project as a shared communication tool between young people and the community. She would receive our Golden Glove Award and the Stanley Cup Trophy from us all.
We continue firmly committed to be here for young people who seek the opportunity to build their own paths to their futures.
Marilyn Dyck, Executive Director
Over 30 Years Ago…
The Doorway began asking young people on the street to write the answers to three questions:
1. Where are you?
2. Where do you want to be?
3. How do you get there?
The young person was asked to sign the bottom of the page, making a commitment to THEMSELVES and they were paid $15. As to be expected most came back and wanted to write another plan to make another $15. Today, 1220 young people later this is still our foundation.
Young people at The Doorway are 17-24 years old, on the street wanting to get off the street. They are provided a two year commitment and taught our ‘Critical Path Planning Process’. They understand this as their ‘business’. It is the business of their life. A young person who is consistent throughout their entire two year business process will plan 200 steps off the street, focusing on thirteen different areas of life.
Young people are not assisted in developing their plans. The Doorway believes these young people know themselves best, and believe the most sustainable and rewarding process for them is to do this by themselves.
Completion of plans are not monitored, we believe this is the most effective way to create self-accountability.
Young people are not asked how they spent their $15. We believe this is the strongest reflection of our trust and belief in them.
For more than 30 years The Doorway has believed:
• There is vital benefit in providing a young person an opportunity to THINK.
• Every young person deserves two years of belief and support.
• We have the ability to show young people a better society than what they have experienced.
• When young people are surrounded by a positive example of society and people who trust and believe in them, their desire to join society and belief within themselves begins to grow.
-In the words of Young People
Off the Street
Young people at The Doorway have taught us ‘on the street’ is more than an economic situation, it is a belief system and a way of seeing yourself. The word ‘homeless’ leads us to believe the problem can be solved by a roof, however, put a roof over the head of a ‘street-dependent’ young person and quickly you will see ‘street’ can live under a roof.
Off the street is about changing much more than where you sleep: it’s changing who you are, your attitude, mentality, routines and often your beliefs, values and customs. The Doorway understands getting off the street as a cultural-change.
“My change is more apparent on the inside than the outside” – Graduate
Stuck on the Street
Young people have taught us it is easy to feel stuck on the street. The Doorway tries to assist young people who feel their lives are out of control. By breaking down their life goals into tiny achievable steps, many young people enjoy self determined success. And they are amazed how quickly they feel they have choice. One area of significant struggle is dependencies. Some young people are very dependent on their peers, drugs/alcohol or the many services that surround them. Young people talk about belonging, severe physical and psychological dependency and often we hear that it is too easy to survive off the resources in our prosperous city. With a number of services offering management and financial support, it is taking young people longer and longer to get off the street. These obstacles require The Doorway to always be intentionally empowering in our interactions with young people. More than ever we understand the most powerful tools we can provide to a young person is acceptance for who they are, with a belief in who they can be. We understand this because over the last few years we have listened to the impacts to young people’s self esteem when supports and services they surround themselves with focus mainly on accepting them for who they are.
Over 30 Years of Listening – Marilyn Dyck
1987 Marilyn Dyck’s children were now grown, and with a sociology degree from a previous life before motherhood she returned to questioning the world around her. July 1987 ‘asking questions’ became a formal positon for her. After conversations at The Calgary Food Bank for a few months, she had been recruited to find out ‘why young people in our city were accessing the food bank and saying they had no place to live?’.
Marilyn and her colleagues asked a lot of different people why? They asked the young people themselves, social services and other charities, non-profits and services in cities across North America. What they learned was: young people were falling through the cracks of our society. Beyond society’s traditional structures they were forming families on the street, and surviving within a different culture: street culture.
The next questions then became ‘how do we help these young people?’. The Doorway’s philosophies of self-determination, legal income, self-accountability and community grew from listening to and learning from young people, and the trusted service providers who knew these young people needed something different.
Since January 1988 Marilyn has never stopped listening and learning. She has lead a culture at The Doorway operating with these pr1987 Marilyn Dyck’s children were now grown, and with a sociology degree from a previous life before motherhood she returned to questioning the world around her. July 1987 ‘asking questions’ became a formal positon for her. After conversations at The Calgary Food Bank for a few months, she had been recruited to find out ‘why young people in our city were accessing the food bank and saying they had no place to live?’. Marilyn and her colleagues asked a lot of different people why? They asked the young people themselves, social services and other charities, non-profits and services in cities across North America. What they learned was: young people were falling through the cracks of our society. Beyond society’s traditional structures they were forming families on the street, and surviving within a different culture: street culture. The next questions then became ‘how do we help these young people?’. The Doorway’s philosophies of self-determination, legal income, self-accountability and community grew from listening to and learning from young people, and the trusted service providers who knew these young people needed something different. Since January 1988 Marilyn has never stopped listening and learning. She has lead a culture at The Doorway operating with these principles. Her utmost respect and belief in young people’s lived experience and knowledge is reflected in filing cabinets filled with 30 years of young people’s writing. Furthermore, her undocumented conversations with over 1220 young people in our space throughout the past 30 years remains immeasurable, invaluable and constitute The Doorway’s magical ingredient of learning by listening.
Marilyn often ends each day with the words ‘Thank you for today’, this year at our Annual General Meeting we thanked Marilyn for over 11, 000 days.
Introducing the WE Project
The Doorway is proud to introduce WE, officially known as Witnessing Evolution. WE is a database that will host an archive of lived experiences written by young people trying to overcome a life on the streets over the past 30 years in Calgary. This is a heartfelt legacy venture that is unique to The Doorway and invaluable to our philosophy. Thousands of staff, intern and volunteer hours have been invested in transcribing, organizing and theming over 1200 past and present participants’ reflective writings. WE documents participants’ struggles, achievements, frustrations and hopes IN THEIR OWN WORDS while capturing the reality of living on the street in real time and without interpretation. These unprovoked written reflections are unedited and unstructured and this collection of narratives spanning 30 years is raw, brave and moving. Furthermore it is rich, deep data from which to learn.
Although this is a highly labour intensive project, the Doorway is committed to ongoing learning and we feel it is necessary to share the insight captured in our participants words. WE enables us to communicate participant experiences more effectively and it allows our young people a collective voice. By grouping their lived experiences into classifications, one whisper can become a roar. Furthermore, with the ability to study long-term patterns and experiences over time, we can reflect on how historic social, medical and educational policy changes have affected young people positively and negatively. Moving forward, our hope is to partner with other organizations in our shared sector to inform policy that may challenge traditional interpretations of youth homelessness and bring about positive, lasting change for young people in Calgary.
In 1989 we shared participant writings and other learning tools with our community volunteers. They took paper-copies from our space and handed them out to their communities to raise awareness, stimulate conversation and challenge perspectives.
Young people then, and still today, love to know their voice is important for informed learning. Most of all, however, they love to know people are paying careful attention.
2018 operates in a much different world than 1988. We have started to take advantage of our archives and the many online platforms that host collections of engaged citizens and… GROW OUR IMPACT.
The Listening Project
To influence social change we have recently challenged the second part of our mandate: ‘‘to support community who want to help young people get off the street”.
As we welcome young people back into society… it is our due diligence to ensure the society they are joining or rejoining is adequate. Unfortunately we continue to learn of gaps, broken systems and social barriers.
We created a space to listen to everyone and understand how we can each MAKE CHANGE to better our society for ALL.
Connect with Us
Thank You for Your Contribution
When I was on the street my life was a mess, it was horrible. I couldn’t think straight. I knew I didn’t wanna be where I was but I was stuck. The highlight of my week was coming to The Doorway and talking to the staff and volunteers. I think it was the unconditional support, whether I wanted to talk for 5 minutes or an hour it was always okay. They listened and got to know ME and reminded me of the pieces of myself I didn’t see anymore. They saw the good in me… and reminded me of that too. They always pointed out my good morals and when I looked in the mirror I could say ‘I am a good person’. I needed that because I honestly didn’t know I still had that much of my soul left…
To all the people and companies that have donated money, books, clothes, food and anything else, on behalf of the The Doorway, I would like to say thank you and it is greatly appreciated by all the participants. Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to better our lives.
Thank You to Our Supporters
0942484 BC Ltd. o/a Rapid-Span. 621438 Alberta Limited. ATCO EPIC. Bearspaw Benevolent Foundation. Byler Foundation. C.U.P.E Local 709. The Calgary Foundation. Calgary Shaw Charity Classic Foundation. COFFEETRUCKS.CA Inc. Crossroads Community Church. Forest Lawn United Church Women. GAM Technical Services Inc. Gatzsch Family Foundation. Glasswaters Foundation. Knox United Church. Maunders McNeil Foundation Inc. Monogram Fifth Ave Inc. Nelson Arthur Hyland Foundation. Prosser Charitable Foundation. Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation. QV Investors Inc. Rotary Club of Calgary Heritage Park. Roto-Rooter Calgary. Salden Foundation. St. Luke’s Church. Telus Corporation. The Peter Cundill Foundation. Tuscan Benevolent Society
Steps off the Street Supporters:
AH Design. FlyerShop. Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey. Higher Ground Cafe. Trolly 5 Brew Pub. Original Joe’s Kensington
Our Board of Directors
Andrew Hunter – Board Chair
Calgary Board of Education
Marilyn Dyck – Executive Director
Eric Dahl – Board Member
Jim Empey– Board Member
John Leduc – Board Member
Brent Olynyk – Board Member
Lead 2 Perform
Colleen Shepherd – Board Member
Calgary Regional Partnership
Eeva White – Board Member
Roots to STEM
Dear Friends of The Doorway,
On behalf of the Board of Directors we thank you for your continued support of The Doorway. It has been a good year. In addition to the accomplishments highlighted in this update, the Board is proud to celebrate The Doorway’s pursuit of knowledge building and sharing proven strategy within the community.
At The Doorway people have been following a process of growth that has worked for over three decades. As witnesses to the enduring relationship between this process and success, we are energized in our resolve to work towards long-term sustainability. Much of our outgoing Chair, John Leduc’s tenure is highlighted by his influence and input into this goal. He took leadership over developing a sound body of Board Governance and recruiting engaged directors.
As an organization we are growing forward with your support. Together we provide the space and time for young people to realize their best selves, and in doing so we discover our own.
For this we thank you,
Director of the Board