(Above) From left, Mjr Rob Kerr, divisional secretary, Prairies and Northern Territories Div; Mjr Don Bladen, AC, Prairies and Northern Territories Div; Mjr Donna Bladen, DSWM, Prairies and Northern Territories Div; Cliff Wiebe; Mjr Karen Hoeft, executive director, Regina Waterston Ministries 

After three years of planning, The Salvation Army has opened a new community resource centre in Calgary, serving the Greater Forest Lawn area.

Having operated in the area for decades, The Salvation Army recognized the need for a larger,more versatile space to support families, youth and the community as a whole. The Army responded to feedback from community members who expressed a desire for safe spaces to gather, learn and engage in community-building activities.

A Salvation Army ice sculpture and table of cookies greet guests at the grand opening of the Forest Lawn Community Resource Centre, Calgary

“This area is home to some of the poorest communities in the city, and with a culturally diverse and vulnerable population, it sadly suffers from an extremely high crime rate,” explains Lara Peters, grant writer and communications co-ordinator at the Salvation Army community services in Calgary. “Our previous space was small and unsuitable for meeting the diverse needs of people here.”

The facility, which occupies more than half of a former Target store, features a welcome centre, an open recreation area and mobile skate park, a warehouse, pantry, and space for chaplaincy, family programs and outreach. It also provides a new location for the emergency disaster services headquarters. 

“Having the warehouse connected to this facility will make larger programs such as our toy hamper program, which served more than 6,000 kids last year, much easier to manage,” says Peters.

In January, Forest Lawn Community Resource Centre celebrated its official grand opening, followed by a community open house. The event was attended by hundreds of people, including Salvation Army mission partners, donors, community members and representatives from all three levels of government, including Jyoti Gondek, mayor of Calgary; Peter Singh, member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary East; and Jasraj Singh Hallan, member of Parliament for Calgary Forest Lawn.

Elder Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman (left) with the Sorrel Rider Drum Group

The event began with a warm welcome by Cliff Wiebe, executive director of Calgary community services, an honour song by Siksika drummers and a blessing by Elder Vincent Yellow Old Woman of the Siksika Nation. Commissioner Lee Graves, territorial commander, offered a prayer of dedication for the space, and Lt-Colonels Brian and Lynn Armstrong, divisional leaders, Prairies and Northern Territories Division, gave a closing benediction.

“We were blessed to have one of our clients, Vivian, share about the difference that community and family services has made in her own personal journey,” saysPeters. “She is a single mother and immigrant from Cameroon, and an excellent representative of the populations that this new site will serve.”

According to Peters, the hope for the future of Forest Lawn is to see families nurtured and given opportunities to grow. “We hope that it gives youth opportunities to develop leadership skills, and that partnerships evolve from this so that the community can step above some of the stereotypes and barriers that it faces.”

Photos: Lara Peters


On Sunday, March 10, 2024, Tammy Norris said:

Wonderful news! This initiative will make such a difference in so many lives 👏 🙏

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, roberta devine said:

I have been volunteering in the united States. This sounds so wonderful! So happy for you all!! Salvation Army -doing good!

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