Interview Date: May, 2008
Nancy: Tell us a little about your passion for the work.
Kevin: Really, I think I have seen a lot of change happen in this field with clients over the years…And with this job, knowing that you get to make a difference. When I was a private counselor, I was saving one person at a time. And now we are talking about many thousands. Also I have the opportunity to work with a variety of people. We have a window that other people do not have.
Maggie: A long time ago, I stumbled into it. I had no concept of it and found that I had a knack for it, somewhat of a gift. Initially it was about the one starfish thing [pick up one starfish at a time] and it still is that. When I get the opportunity to do some intervention on a case with one of the staff, or talk to people outside the courtroom, who are beside themselves, I now have the opportunity to share some of my skills. It’s like golf. One good shot and it makes it all worthwhile.
Nancy: People look at Homefront and say this would be impossible to do somewhere else. What do you believe are the key reasons why it works so well in Calgary?
Maggie: Getting the right people at the table. It doesn’t have to be a large city endeavor, as long as you have the Police, Crown, Victim Services and then buy-in from some of the Community Resources. It will look different but you would have the same accomplished, the same goals. The Crowns come into DV court used to working alone and the same with the Police. And there is an expectation that we as caseworkers have to get our concerns on the table and that may impact on their work. We need the ability to step beyond that box we all come from and share and communicate.
Kevin: I think that you cannot underestimate the community development aspect and its been 25-30 years of community development work here. You need to have champions. The Police and the Crown are the two primary groups that you need to get on board…You can’t recreate HomeFront but you can recreate our principles. If you try and mimic what we do, you will not have a lot of success. A key issue is timeliness around court. If you want to go towards that, find your champions…When we started working with the Police, we started to understand their practical realities, the things that they have to deal with. Listening to them…
Nancy: What are some of the key features to helping bring the faith community alongside in Calgary?
Kevin: Champions, like Bob Pynn…Andrea Silverstone is a major doer and gets things done [especially]…within the Jewish community.
Maggie: Willing to have the conversations, to be open to it. Even on the front lines, we have case workers who have those conversations when doing intakes. People say what their faith position is. They will work with whoever comes in and if it includes a faith-based position, then that dialogue happens.
Nancy: So Calgary is a safe place in Community Agencies to say that you are religious?
Kevin: I think so.
Maggie: I do too.
Nancy: Thanks so much for joining me for breakfast.