At the Momentum Annual Celebration and Annual General Meeting (AGM) last May, we asked guests what they would want to know about Momentum. Pansie, a past-participant, and I tried our best to answer the questions. You never know how a Question & Answer (Q&A) session will go at a large event, so we also asked some past participants for their questions in advance just in case it was a shy group at the Annual Celebration. One question that I was not able to answer due to time was simple yet profound: What is your favorite thing about Momentum?
In over 10 years of working at Momentum, I can absolutely say my favorite thing is the people that make up the Momentum community. Momentum is a beautiful mix of staff, volunteers, participants, community partners and investors all working together to make our Calgary economy work better for everyone. I’m a big believer in the African proverb that “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” At its best, the people involved in Momentum reflect the wisdom of the proverb. We are all guided by the vision of a community where everyone can have a sustainable livelihood.
By working together, we have made progress towards that vision over Momentum’s almost 30-year history. Everyone who is part of Momentum can take pride in contributing to our impact. For example, since 1991 we have trained over 1,000 Trades Training graduates and provided $3.6 million in matched savings to participants to boost their own savings. I believe a key reason staff, volunteers, investors and participants get and stay involved in the Momentum community is because we all care about the results. We all want to know that collectively we are making a difference.
Not only do we care about results, but we also try to work together in a way that honours relationships – at least as much as possible. Hopefully, no one that comes to Momentum ever feels like a number. As we describe in our organizational culture statement, “we care about each other, we care about relationships and we care about our community.” We strive to work in a spirit of partnership. We recognize that our relationships – whether it is staff with participants or investors with staff or volunteers – are often reciprocal. We work together in a way where everyone can benefit. Grounding our work in relationships allows us opportunities to get to know each other and help each other. We often know our colleagues’ kid’s names or favorite food. We often know when someone is struggling and can lend a hand or provide an encouraging word of support.
In my role as Executive Director, I don’t get the opportunity to personally know many program participants. However, the opportunities when I do get to connect directly with participants – like facilitating the Q & A at the Annual Celebration with Pansie – are a highlight of my work with Momentum.
One of my favorite memories is when I had the opportunity to connect with Bulga, who was a Trades Training graduate, at an event for our Owen Hart Homeowners program. I knew Bulga from our Trades Training participant potluck lunch and program graduation – he was memorable due to his warm smile. He was also the first person I had ever met in Calgary from Mongolia! After the home ownership event, I learned more about Bulga and will never forget how proud he was that his new baby at the time – who was 16 years younger than his next youngest child – was already a Canadian citizen because he was born in Canada. Bulga is now a journeyman glazier, has owned his own home in Calgary for over 6 years after completing our home ownership savings program and his Canadian born baby is now in elementary school. As a dad with a significant age gap between my two youngest kids (not 16 years though!) Bulga’s pride and commitment as a father to support his family has always inspired me.
There is no doubt that my favorite thing about Momentum is the diversity of the inspiring and courageous people, like Bulga and Pansie, who are part of the Momentum community. Together, we are a community of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.