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HomeWorkBusinessHow a Calgary-based Charity is Changing Lives Beyond Dollars and Cents

How a Calgary-based Charity is Changing Lives Beyond Dollars and Cents

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An organization has not started fulfilling its purpose until they can rise above the narrow confines of basic organizational interests to the broader concerns of humanity. Every corporate citizen must decide at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’

The above statement was adapted from the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because more than ever today, it rings true for not just individuals whom he originally addressed but also organizations who are set up to serve their community.

When as a two-year-old, Roderick Medina landed in Canada with his parents from the Philippines in the mid 1970s, little did he know what life had in stock for him. He had loving parents who set out to adopt Canada as their primary home and build a life that they and their kids would be proud of.

Roderick grew up full of life and as a little kid, hardly knew any difference between the Canada that his parents created at home and the one he lived in daily when he joined other kids at School and in after School activities. However, something stood out for him; other kids noticed he was different as far as the kind of food that he ate at School. “What are you eating? What’s that?” Those kids asked because he ate rice, a Filipino staple food like most Asian countries. Unlike him, they had their sandwich bags with their sandwich, fruits, and cookies. For him, the difference in what they ate meant nothing until he got teased about it and he quietly wondered why. Fortunately, he brushed it off and moved on with life.

‘I experienced immigration by osmosis’, said Jeff Loomis. Married to a beautiful first-generation Canadian woman who is Dutch in heritage, life gave Jeff an unusual opportunity to see through the eyes of most new immigrants that he would be called to serve years down the line. Reminiscing about the integration stories shared by his father-in-law, Jeff recollected that his wife’s family with many kids had to live in a small 2-bedroom farmhouse for the first two years of their life in Canada. According to him, it was a challenging experience, but life can be humorous. As if he had to be on internship, he found himself living in the Netherlands as an ‘immigrant’ without work for one year after getting married. As it later turned out, it was all part of a grand design by infinite intelligence to groom him for the work ahead.

Despite being raised in a stable first-generation Canadian family, Roderick had his challenges in life. Even though he enjoyed being in School, he struggled and even failed some lower grade classes. He later got into wrong social relationships that taught him to use and sell drugs and unfortunately had his stint with the prison. It was a low time for him. But he arose, found Centre Street church from where he was referred to Momentum. His life suddenly had a new meaning!

Momentum helped him realize that he still has lots of opportunities to live a fulfilling life. Through counselling, self-employment training, coaching and other economic supports, Roderick started his own business, Dzyne Culture focused mostly on graphic designs and video production. Today, Roderick is an employer of labor and fondly attributes his turn around in life to the support that Momentum gave to him when he was at a low ebb in life.

According to Jeff Loomis, the Executive Director of Momentum, stories like that of Roderick are commonplace at Momentum. That is the daily life Momentum lives as a corporate citizen. Little wonder Momentum is a leading, well respected not-for-profit organization in the Calgary area. Jeff says that Momentum is a change-making organization that acts as a bridge by taking an economic approach to poverty reduction and adding a social perspective to economic development initiatives.

‘Built on the sustainable livelihoods model, Momentum’s programs work to build livelihood assets—connections, sense of self, basics needs and services, skills and knowledge, and finances—that lead to increased income and assets, and ultimately an exit from poverty’. The 31-year-old organization takes leadership in Calgary by partnering with the academia, civil servants and elected officials to create, influence public policies and support innovative system-based economic changes in the society.

When asked to give some advice to new immigrants and people living on low income in the Calgary area, Jeff makes it simple. He said, ASK FOR HELP! Roderick was quick to agree. While both acknowledged that every human deserves a strong sense of self worth, they believe that asking for help is a sign of strength and not weakness. In fact, Roderick says asking for help is what changed his life. We should therefore learn to embrace life challenges as they come, not tie our sense of self worth to the temporary lows that we encounter, ask for help and leverage the assistance that is available to us when we need it.

Lifting people out of poverty and empowering them with skills and knowledge to create value for themselves and their local community is the soul of Momentum. Jeff therefore encourages you to call 403.272.9323 if you are passing through life challenges or want to talk to someone. Roderick Medina is a recent testimony and yours could be next!

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Written by Dapo Bankole

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