Mustard Seed's new Wellness Centre serving up hope
Modern downtown space assists homeless and low-income Calgarians with medical and bureaucratic problems
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It was supposed to be commercial space, and as you walk through the Mustard Seed’s new Wellness Centre, it almost looks like commercial space.
There’s a reception desk at the entrance. Over here is a computer lab. Over there, a spacious doctor’s office. Clients are meeting with advocates in offices. Everything is brand new.
Boris Lesar, clinical director of wellness at The Mustard Seed, said initially the group had planned to lease out the space in the bottom floor of its 1010 Centre.
The top floors of the building are 220 affordable apartments. The bottom floors would have added some money to the Mustard Seed’s coffers, but now the space is helping with the primary mission of helping those in need.
“It makes more sense to utilize this space for the clients needs,” said Lesar.
The uptake has been great. The Mustard Seed did a soft launch of the centre at the end of September. Lesar said they were expecting to help about 1,000 people in the first month.
“Since the end of October we hit 2,600 service transactions,” he said.
A service transaction is any time a client walks through the door for assistance.
The Wellness Centre was made possible after an anonymous donor with The Calgary Foundation provided $400,000.
“The donor recognized the importance of addressing poverty and mental health issues in our community and valued the centre’s holistic, collaborative approach to serving vulnerable Calgarians – where they are, in an empowering and respectful manner.” says Eva Friesen, president and CEO of The Calgary Foundation.
Lesar also gave credit Farnum Construction Management for going above and beyond with the renovations, and to RGO for donating much of the office furniture and discounting much more.
“We came in a little under the budget,” he said. “You don’t hear that very often, so we’re going to put that money back into service provision.”