Written by Louise Gallagher

The skies cleared and the stars aligned as over 150 people gathered on May 4 to celebrate the launch of our new book. WHERE50 years of ending homelessness tells the DI story in 50 words, 50 photos, 50 voices.

It was a night of people standing heart to heart, of souls touching and spirits lifting as we shared stories, words and photographs of what it means to be connected through this place Where People Matter, the DI.

Many, many people helped make WHERE possible and an enormous debt of gratitude is owed to each of them. Our board of directors along with our Executive Director, Debbie Newman, provided the support and commitment to ensure the book moved beyond a vague idea to finished project.

Countless staff, clients and volunteers at the DI also participated in creating the book. They had their photos taken, they encouraged clients to write or have their photos taken and ensured our photographers Christina and Nathan Krentz , the amazing duo from christina (plus) nathan photography could go where they needed to go over the seven months they volunteered taking the amazing photographs you see in the book.

Rebecca Rowley, designer extraordinaire ensured every page was laid out in exquisite taste and that every detail was taken are of. Co-editor Jordan Hamilton effortlessly helped guide the book through its creative processes, from shepherding Christina and Nathan all over the building and onto the streets, to proofing and suggesting words and photo ideas, to connecting people and places and things that needed doing. Thank you everyone. What an amazing team, what an amazing project, what an amazing place the DI is.

To our contributing authors, Thank you! Your words add meaning, depth and beauty to every page.

The launch event kicked off with The DI Singers performing several songs and after the formal presentation, John Harris entertained our guests with his classical guitar.

Saff member and WHERE contributor Abe Brown kept the evening flowing smoothly as our MC. Board President, Jeff Kushner, shared important thoughts on his word, sustainability while Debbie Newman, our Executive Director talked about the meaning and importance of the words in WHERE, as well as the DI in our community. As part of the evening’s events, we included a segment on the program called, “Three Words/Three Readings.

WHERE contributor Brian Norman read his sensitive and insightful poem, SILENCE and Alexis McDonald shared a personal story a hug she shared with a homeless man in Vancouver called, INVISIBLE. You could have heard a pin drop as Grant Fischer read his powerful story, ADDICTION. It was compelling. Moving. Touching. Healing.

And after the readings, our MC Abe introduced the world premiere of Standing By: A DI documentary. Standing By is the story of what happens when a group of talented and committed musicians stand together to create a song that expresses what music and the DI means to them, and to our city. In this case, the song was Ben E. King’s classic hit, Stand by Me.

Ann Pham sells WHERE

Ann Pham sells WHERE

The book launch and photography exhibit could not have happened without the help of our staff and those who came out to volunteer. Dana Sieffert took care of all the logistics of the location while Janice Scopick handled book sales. Assisting them were Ann Pham and Renee Winter. In addition, Sue Wellspring, Leah Ritco and Rudy Raduloff helped serve our guests while Nasha Wong, Cindy McPhee and Rachael Greene worked wonders behind the scenes creating tantalizing and visually stunning appetizers that wowed the palettes of everyone. Steve Snider, Terry Eillis, Tyler Usselman, and Jason helped out in the kitchen, and at the event, cutting, peeling, slicing, dicing and creating the appetizers, Thank you! You have made a difference. Thank you Stephen Lambert and Steve Kempling our two photographers for the evening — your photos are great! And thank you to Jorge Campusano, Ricardo Urias, Jeff Schoen, Peter Arsenault — you helped moving in, during the reception, and moving out of the venue, run smoothly!

Making a difference with the wine was Jesse Willis of Vine Arts: Wine made simple. He volunteered his time as wine host and ensured everyone felt well served.

And, a huge thank you to our sponsors!

Thank You CMLC

The setting for the launch was at the CMLC offices in the East Village. It was perfect and a big thank you is owed to CMLC who graciously volunteered the space for our use on May 4. The brick walls were a perfect backdrop for the photos while the high ceilings and natural lighting ensured every photo was displayed to perfection. Thanks to Anvy Digital, the photos chosen for the exhibit by photographers Christina and Nathan Krentz presented a visual feast for every guest to savour. Christina (plus) Nathan’s photographs are an intimate and sensitive portrayal of the people, places and happenings at the DI. They mirror the power of the 50 words and voices with provocative clarity, enhancing every page with their beauty.

It was a night to remember. A night to cherish. To savour. To hold dear.

Thank you also to event sponsors:

Best Western VPI
Velda’s Flowers Grower Direct
Crave Cupcakes
Fab Bar & Restaurant
Canadian View Corp

Your contributions to the evening ensured the event was picture perfect; a reflection of the difference you make at the DI. We appreciate your generosity and kindness. Thank you for standing by us.

WHERE Contributors — your words tell the DI story beautifully:

Dale A. Herrington
Brian Norman
Jordan Hamilton
Reg Knelsen
Aaron Miller
Charles Cochrane
Paula Arab and the Calgary Herald
K. Michael Heuser
Abe Brown
Alicia Templeton
Lisa Taylor
Grant Fischer
John Rowland
Onalea Gilbertson
Alexis McDonald
Robert Ramstead
Louise Gallagher

And, to give you a taste of the evening, we’ve created a short video. Enjoy!