Hsiu-Yan (front centre) and other Inn from the Cold volunteers help homeless families gain independence.
As a mom to two young children, Hsui-Yan Chan, manager, natural gas liquids at Suncor, has always been interested in children’s causes. So when she learned about the work of Inn from the Cold, a Calgary-based emergency shelter for homeless and at-risk children and families, she wanted to get involved.
“The stories of the children and families at Inn from the Cold are so compelling, heartbreaking, and yet often filled with hope,” says Hsiu-Yan. “It makes you realize how fortunate some of us are in life.”
Hsiu-Yan was selected as a SunCares Changemaker earlier this year for her efforts to help families experiencing homelessness. This includes serving on Inn from the Cold’s board of directors since 2015 and being a champion of the organization’s transformational change towards a housing-focused shelter model. Through the SunCares Changemakers program, Hsiu-Yan had the opportunity to identify a community organization to receive a one-time gift of $20,000 from Suncor or the Suncor Energy Foundation (SEF), which she chose to direct to Inn from the Cold.
“Inn from the Cold is sincerely grateful to Hsiu-Yan for the leadership she provides on our board. She truly is a champion of the Inn and supports our staff as they provide care for Calgary’s most vulnerable children and families,” says Heather Morley, executive director at Inn from the Cold.
Hsiu-Yan works with vulnerable families before they even come into the shelter by helping them create safe living environments, develop exit plans to get out of dangerous situations, and by guiding them towards independence.
“I think some of the biggest impacts we’ve had are with the people who don’t come to the shelter – preventing children and families from ever needing to stay in a homeless shelter,” says Hsiu-Yan. “We help prevent the trauma and toxic stress that families can develop as a result of having to stay in an emergency homeless shelter.”
For families that do come into the shelter, Inn from the Cold works to design customized exit plans with stable housing solutions. These plans help get families back on their feet and into long-term homes as quickly as possible.
“It’s been amazing to see families go from very low points in life to getting their first set of keys for one of our long-term supportive housing units,” says Hsiu-Yan.
This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the stories of the five 2019 Changemakers and the impact they’re having in their communities.