When the pandemic first hit back in March 2020, it struck like a tsunami. While everyone felt the force of its blow, the people worst hit were those already struggling to stay afloat. Incomes disappeared overnight while the need for social supports grew in their place.

Calgary’s service agencies responded to the crisis—all hands on deck—to try to get everyone to solid ground. But, unlike a tsunami whose waters eventually recede, the pandemic continues to seep through the layers of life in our city. People who once felt safe from its reach are finding themselves in need of support and aren’t sure how to ask or whether they even should.

Recognizing the growing complexities of need, ENMAX is increasing its ongoing support for the United Way of Calgary and Area with a donation to the Basic Needs Fund. This funding will help partnering agencies respond to emergency needs around housing, utilities and food to ensure more Calgarians stay housed and warm as winter closes in.

Through a $100,000 donation to the United Way’s Basic Needs Fund, ENMAX will be supporting a group of agencies that includes CUPS, Rise Calgary and Distress Centre Calgary as they work to respond to the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic and the economic downturn.

“We recognize the strain felt by our city’s most vulnerable, “ says Diana Stephenson, Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability at ENMAX. “That’s why we are increasing our financial commitment to our key, long-term community partners who provide critical services to community members in need of support.”

“If you’re worried about how you’re going to eat tomorrow you’re probably not thinking about your mental health” – Robyn Romano, CEO at Distress Centre Calgary

“People’s mental health and state of wellness are not doing well right now,” says Robyn Romano, CEO at Distress Centre Calgary. “They’re just trying to put one foot in front of the other. People will try to minimize their needs, put band-aids on and do everything they can to take care of themselves and their families. When they finally do reach out for help, it’s often at that last minute which makes it more complex and complicated to work through the system of available supports.”

Romano says this recognition of the United Way’s Basic Needs program gives people the basic, necessary foundation of support required to be able to move beyond crisis.

“If you’re worried about how you’re going to eat tomorrow you’re probably not thinking about your mental health,” she offers. “The support has really amplified that capacity to be able to respond to this increase in demand for services especially in light of the increased costs we’re seeing in living expenses, housing, utilities and food.”

Support for the United Way dates far back in ENMAX’s history, originating in 1988. Over the more than three decades in partnership, ENMAX has given more than $7 million to the United Way and its community-centred programs.

“At ENMAX, ensuring our customers continue to have access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity is a vital part of our role as an essential service provider,” says Stephenson. “Working closely with critical community agencies such as the United Way and Distress Centre Calgary is a key part of achieving this goal. We are proud to support the life-changing difference these agency partners make for community members in need.”