Lee Stevens

What drives Lee to push for a Calgary where there is Enough for All

"I work at Vibrant Communities Calgary because I want to change the odds and prevent poverty.

When I was in high school, I had strong notions of social justice and a desire to help people but at the time I didn’t know you could receive a formal education in social work. I quickly realized what career I wanted to pursue and while attending University, I worked at a homeless shelter in Calgary as a very young naive Social Worker. It remains the most difficult job I have ever had, and the experience continues to shape my work today. After I graduated from University, I worked in the homeless serving sector for many years and began to notice that the vast majority of programs and services were aimed at the homeless population, and those labelled as “at risk.” Very little attention and even fewer resources were aimed at the systemic issues that were causing homelessness. This quote by Helen Wilson articulates my struggle, “risk is strongly identified with factors associated with poverty, and poverty, something that is produced systemically is described as a “danger,” blaming the individual for continuing risk-exposure and individual responsibility for risk avoidance.”

I believe poverty has very little to do with the people living it and very much to do with our systems. Education and job training is necessary, but we must work equally hard to address systemic issues such as racism, our social safety net and work on changing our economic environment including the way we do business. I feel very privileged to be able to do this important work at VCC."

Articles & events by this contributor