January 20, 2017

In 2015, a committee of representatives from 26 homeless serving agencies, government, and other community stakeholders came together to consider ways of collaboratively responding to the complex healthcare and housing needs of homeless individuals in Calgary.
The shared goal of this committee is the improvement of health outcomes and housing supports for the city’s most vulnerable homeless individuals.

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December 10, 2016

5th Annual Dancing with the Stars Fundraiser

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November 28, 2016

Calgary Herald Christmas Fund 2016: Agencies buffer toxic stress in local children

Dad Ben Oosterhoff and mom Angel Nagy sit with their kids (L-R) Jordan Oosterhoff, 9, Jacob Charles, 4, Emma Nagy, 2, Nathan Oosterhoff, 3, Keegan Doye, 7, and Mason Charles, 6, after making gingerbread houses at CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society) in downtown Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. CUPS, an agency helping families and people in need, is one of the recipients in this year's Herald Christmas Fund.

Dad Ben Oosterhoff and mom Angel Nagy sit with their kids (L-R) Jordan Oosterhoff, 9, Jacob Charles, 4, Emma Nagy, 2, Nathan Oosterhoff, 3, Keegan Doye, 7, and Mason Charles, 6, after making gingerbread houses at CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society) in downtown Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. CUPS, an agency helping families and people in need, is one of the recipients in this year’s Herald Christmas Fund. LYLE ASPINALL / POSTMEDIA NETWORK



In the spring of 2014, Angel Nagy arrived in Calgary with two goals in mind: beat drug addiction and get her children back. “I was hopeless, lost, confused,” she says. “I felt like at the age of 25, I had failed at life.”

Fast forward to late 2016: Nagy’s three young boys are back in the fold, joined by their new sister, two-year-old Emma; Nagy and her partner Ben Oosterhoff are co-parenting her four kids and his two young children. “Our home is a happy place,” says Nagy, who was born and raised in Grand Cache, Alberta.

Along with achieving her goals, other amazing things have happened. “Before, Mason couldn’t speak, he only knew a few words,” she says of her five-year-old, who was traumatized when he saw his mom being beaten by her previous partner, his dad. Jacob, 4, also had a speech delay. “Mason talks in full sentences now and Jacob is right where he should be for his age.”

Nagy says it’s all thanks to Calgary Urban Project Society. After leaving a treatment centre in the summer of 2014, her first stop was the organization that helps people in poverty. Within days of being welcomed with open arms, Nagy was given housing assistance, counselling and her boys were admitted to CUPS’s One World Child Development Centre for preschoolers.

While such a multi-pronged approach is ambitious and complex, it’s the only way to be effective with families like Nagy’s, says Carlene Donnelly. “We do deal with the basic needs, like getting them housed and fed,” says the society’s executive director. “Yet over the past decade, we have put a much more intensive focus on getting parents and other caregivers to understand how their kids develop and how they can help.”

Donnelly, who has spent the past two decades working at the now-27-year-old non-profit, says organizations like hers have undergone a sea of change over the past decade thanks to advances in scientific research. “Finding out what trauma and stress does to children, was a real wake-up call for me,” she says. “It can literally stop brain growth and, later in life, those kids are at higher risk for everything from cancer and diabetes, to heart disease and suicide.”

Indeed, in recent years there has been an explosion in knowledge when it comes to child development, thanks to experts like Canada’s Dr. James Fraser Mustard and Dr. Bruce Perry of the U.S.-based ChildTrauma Academy, which provided assistance to the CUPS when it was developing its program for the One World Child Centre in 2003.

Locally, the Palix Foundation, a private foundation working in the related areas of child development, mental health and addiction, created the Alberta Wellness Initiative to further promote research and collaboration. Alberta Health Services, the University of Calgary and the Harvard Center on the Developing Child are some of its partner organizations.

Thanks to this better understanding, CUPS now includes programs like Nurturing Parents, which translates academic understanding into everyday terms. “Some of our donors and staff worried it was too scientific,” says Donnelly. “But when we explained to the adults how their interactions affected healthy development of the child’s brain, they felt empowered.”

Bonnie Johnston is another who has worked with those on the front lines of research. Earlier this month, her organization announced a partnership with the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education at the U of C’s Cumming School of Medicine, to conduct one of the most comprehensive studies of child abuse victims to date.

“It will give us even greater understanding of the impact of trauma on the developing brain,” says Johnston, CEO of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, of the longitudinal study.

In its three years of existence, the centre has focused on both an interdisciplinary approach to prevention and treatment of child abuse victims — one involving police, AHS and Alberta Justice — and the research available on what Johnston calls “the invisible but very real” effects of trauma on the young.

One of its programs, an outreach for pregnant moms, came directly from such knowledge. Teams work with homeless women, getting them prenatal care and other assistance. “By the time kids arrive here, something has already happened to them,” she says. “Hopefully, we can help some of those families before then.”

Karen Orser says that those on the front lines have long known the power of helping just one child, but now they’re better equipped to make their case thanks to the science. “You can see the difference it makes in a child’s life,” she says of the services provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, of which she is president and CEO. “Now we have proof that it can buffer toxic stress, that it can help with executive functioning.”

Karen Orser, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, says toxic stress can impact a child's brain development. BBBS is one of 12 recipients of the 2016 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund.

Karen Orser, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, says toxic stress can impact a child’s brain development. BBBS is one of 12 recipients of the 2016 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. LYLE ASPINALLLYLE ASPINALL/POSTMEDIA NETWORK


While stress, trauma and abuse can have profound effects early in life, Jane Wachowich has been witness to the power of transformation in much older kids.

“The data shows that next to early childhood, our age group is the second most important developmental stage,” says Wachowich, executive director of Cornerstone Youth Centre. Its many offerings include free hot meals, basketball, music lessons and mentorship for 11 to 15 year olds after school. “Our kids are at a very malleable, easily influenced time of their lives — we can set their course straight, we can make a major difference.”

For Angel Nagy, the benefits of science combined with caring organizations like CUPS has been life-altering for her young family. “I don’t know what I would have done with CUPS and I’m glad I don’t have to find out,” she says. “What they did for me, for all of us, is nothing short of a miracle.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, Calgary Urban Project Society, Cornerstone Youth Centre and Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre are recipients of the 2016 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. Your donations go directly to help fund their work.

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April 21, 2016

The Calgary Stampeders are proud to announce that all-star offensive lineman Spencer Wilson is the team’s new player representative for CUPS.  For more information click here.

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April 8, 2016

Due to funding constraints CUPS will be suspending the Dental Clinic and all of its programs effective this month of April. The team at CUPS plan to take this upcoming fiscal year to explore other funding models and strategies to re-open a more sustainable Dental Clinic in the future.

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February 25, 2016

Christy Hall has been a contributor and an ambassador of CUPS for over 16 years. In that time I, as the Executive Director of CUPS, have shared many working meetings, planning session, events, fun activities and many, many laughs with Christy. She made the tough details of planning events and activities fun for both me and my staff and, most importantly, for the participants we serve. CUPS assists low income families and individuals to reach their full potential through the Health Care, Education and Housing services we provide. Christy was very actively involved in our organization and always worried about children who lived in challenged circumstances and was incredibly dedicated to helping us help them. She contributed greatly to the success of our programs and the events that provided resources to our programs.


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February 10, 2016

CUPS was featured on Alberta Primetime along with our partners at the University of Calgary’s Veterinary Faculty of Medicine in a story that showcased the Vet Clinic’s that we run. Check out the story here:

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January 27, 2016

Jingle Bells. Silent Night. Happy Holidays.

These are all songs you expect to hear around the Christmas season in mid-to-late December but on Jan. 25, these songs were sung loud and clear at the CUPS ‘Christmas In January’ event in downtown Calgary.

Four Calgary Stampeders players — Charlie Power, Spencer Wilson, Quinn Smith and Matt Walter — were joined by Calgary Stampeders alumnus Brander Craighead at the event. The boys were busy along with the 50 other registered volunteers on hand serving turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables to 325 underprivileged citizens in Calgary’s downtown and beltline areas.

For the full story click here.

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December 13, 2015

Tackling hunger in Calgary was top of the playbook for one Stampeders coach Sunday.

Returning for its third year, Corey Mace’s Turkey Drive took over the West Springs Co-op — a yearly initiative by the Stamps defensive line coach and former player to collect food and donations for the city’s less fortunate.

For the full story please click here.

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December 5, 2015

On her daily walks to work from Bankview to the Beltline district, Caroline North Peigan frequently encounters members of Calgary’s homeless population.

When she does, North Peigan makes sure to cross the street — and head straight towards them with outstretched arms.

“They’re my street family,” explains the 53-year-old. “I’m closer to many of them than to my biological family. I am still one of them.”

These days, though, North Peigan is a full-fledged member of the working world. “It used to be my dream to work at CUPS,” she says of the organization dedicated to helping individuals and families in Calgary overcome poverty.

“But when I was living on the street, it seemed an impossible dream.”

For the full story please click here.

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November 14, 2015

CALGARY – There were some inspiring stories Saturday at an event designed to update Calgarians on the state of homelessness in our city.

Former clients of homeless shelters shared their stories of their struggles and how affordable housing has turned their lives around.

It’s been five months since Randy Pages went from being homeless to having a home.

He now lives in an affordable housing unit in Bankview.

For the full story click here.

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Oct 27, 2015

Congratulations to Dr Van Nguyen, CUPS Health Director, for being chosen as a 2015 Top 40 Under 40 winner by Avenue Magazine. 

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May 25, 2015

The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) partnered this spring with the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) to host six free veterinary clinics for pets of people living below the poverty line. The new service learning program gave third year students the opportunity to take what they learned in the classroom out into the real world. Students interacted directly with clients and their companions while under the close supervision of UCVM and community veterinarians.

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May 14, 2015

Calgary, AB. – The 23nd annual CUPS/Calgary Stampeders Kickoff Breakfast will be taking place from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on ThursdayMay 14, at the Hyatt Regency Calgary.

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March 10, 2015

Stamp’s offensive linesman, Brander Craighead, announced as new Stamp’s representative for CUPS.

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March 5, 2015

The Pet Pantry, a pet event for low-income Calgarians,took place on March 5, 2015 from 10:00am to 12:00pm at CUPS.

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March 7, 2015

A huge thank you to the Moonlight Lounge Gala benefit for CUPS 2015. This year’s event, on February 26th  raised almost $400,000 for CUPS Child and Family Programs.

See Bill Brook’s Herald article on the event at:


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January 28, 2015

With the support of the Hyatt Regency and the Calgary Stampeders, CUPS prepares to feed over 400 low-income Calgarians at the Annual “Christmas Dinner In January” on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

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November 27, 2014

CUPS provides outreach medical care at The Calgary Drop In Centre, The Mustard Seed, Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Brenda’s House, Alpha House and Awo Taan Healing Lodge. CUPS medical outreach is featured in this Calgary Herald video on the Drop-In Centre Medical Clinic.

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October 28, 2014

CUPS Dr Rita Dahlke and Dr Tally Mogus recognized by the Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) as leaders in their field.

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October 1, 2014

Annual report art-style exhibit showcases the core relationships that have helped to make CUPS a leader in the fight against poverty.

CALGARY – October 2, 2013 – On Thursday, October 2, CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society) celebrated 25 years with Big Picture – a unique photography exhibition. As a representation of the importance of coming together, and working together, CUPS has taken their annual report off the pages and put it on the walls.

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May 30, 2014

In an effort to reach marginalized Calgarians who may be at increased risk of liver disease, the Calgary Liver Unit a University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services initiative is providing FibroScan® services at CUPS on Friday, May 30th. Through the event, vulnerable and low-income Calgarians will be screened for liver issues, receive health information and counselling and follow-up medical services if required. The event has been advertised at CUPS, Calgary shelters, treatment facilities, and through Alberta Health Services Safeworks Calgary. We will be able to perform 75 FibroScans over the course of the day.

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May 22, 2014

On May 22, 2014, Honourable Manmeet Bhullar, Minister of Alberta Human Services, announced that the Welcome to Parenthood (W2P) project will receive $500,000 in provincial funding over two years.

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April 5, 2014

The Moonlight Lounge 2014 Gala event for CUPS, featuring Juno award winner Serena Ryder in the Calgary Herald’s The Best Parties section.

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February 27, 2014

It is often difficult for those of us who are comfortable in society’s mainstream to understand why those who have been homeless for an extended period of time might have difficulty with being housed.

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January 30, 2014

CUPS relies on the generousity individuals and companies for 50% of our funding. Without the involvement of caring Calgarians, we would not be able to provide our current programs to those in need.

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December 14, 2013

Every Christmas, CUPS matches families in need with corporate and individual donors for the Adopt A Family program. This year, 161 families with a total of 340 children were adopted and over $41,000 was raised for CUPS Education programs.

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October 1, 2013

Every year, The Calgary Foundation polls Calgarians on factors relating to quality of life in the city. This year, CUPS is one of the non-profit agencies featured in the report.


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July 10, 2013

The Calgary Residential Rental Association is partnering with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and area housing agencies, including CUPS, to assist with finding rental units.

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May 16, 2013

The 2011 removal of flouride from Calgary’s drinking water has raised concerns about children’s oral health.

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April 8, 2013

CUPS Prenatal Program is doubling its capacity to 300 deliveries per year.

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April 6, 2013

March 15, 2013 was the date of this year’s gala event. The evening was hosted by Tara McCool, the headliner performer was Sara Bareilles, and the event raised $375,000 CUPS Child Development Centres and Family Programming.

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March 6, 2013

In 2012, CUPS recieved funding for a full-time volunteer manager. She is profiled this month on Volunteer Calgary’s website.

Read all about her at

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December 7, 2012

Read the Calgary Herald article about Red Express’ corporate gift giving program that helps CUPS’ families celebrate the Christmas season HERE.

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September 18, 2012

Low-income families stand to gain with the expanded capacity of a Calgary not-for-profit group that offers services to overcome poverty.

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August 1, 2012

To meet increasing demand for our services, CUPS will be relocating to its new facility at 1001 10 Ave SW, Calgary, at the beginning of September 2012. Our relocation will allow us to increase our programs and services by 30%.

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April 13, 2012

Tickets to the Annual CUPS Moonlight Lounge Gala is currently sold out. Sorry for the incovenience.

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April 10, 2012

CUPS was once again nominated for the United Way Spirits of Gold awards for 2011.

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