By Damien Wood, Calgary Sun
There may have been more folks in need of something to be thankful for this year at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre.
Fortunately, there was more than enough to go around.
All day Sunday, The Alfred Balm Day of Thanksgiving provided warm meals — an estimated 3,500 or so throughout the day in fact — to anyone in need.
Among those in need were those whose plans for the holiday were shattered by an underground electrical fire which crippled power in an area of the city’s core Saturday night and left thousands in the dark.
“There are quite a few people here … (for whom it’s) the first time they’ve stepped into a homeless shelter,” DI spokesman Jordan Hamilton said.
“We’re glad we could be there when they need us.”
For dinner alone, it’s estimated 1,300 to 1,400 meals were handed out.
And some of those meals were served to visitors by Alberta Premier and PC Party leader Jim Prentice, who had held a press conference at the DI before dinner to address the province’s involvement in recovery from the blackout.
Looking around and seeing the expressions on people’s faces, Hamilton said, “This is bringing out the best in all of us.”
DI executive director Debbie Newman said Prentice’s being there was a surprise for a lot of people and was well-received.
“Today is about giving thanks for what we have, no matter how little it seems,” she said.
Newman also said the DI and some of its longtime clients were also affected by the damage done to downtown Calgary Saturday night.
“We actually have a building in the core that was affected … an apartment building with 140 some-odd people,” she said.
“We’ve been dealing with that, these past couple of days. We have many individuals who used to be homeless, who live in that (building) … we’re concerned for their well being.”
Everyone is welcome to stop in at the DI, Newman said, be they regulars or core residents displaced by the blackout. It’s an open door policy at the DI, she said, and they’ll help as many people as they can.