Q&A with Robyn Romano, Distress Centre’s CEO
2022 was another exciting year at Distress Centre and 2023 is poised to be the same. We wanted to take some time with our CEO, Robyn Romano, to reflect on 2022 and talk about some of the exciting initiatives DC has planned for this year.
Let’s get started!
Watch this update as a video:
Please note that answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Robyn, what stands out to you as you reflect on 2022?
Robyn: The work we do at Distress Centre can’t be done in isolation, and we can’t do this work alone. It takes everyone coming together to help us achieve some of the exciting things that we got to do last year for our community. And so, my first reflection is just thank you. Thank you to the staff, volunteers and everyone in our community for helping us do what we can as an organization to make our community a better place for all.
Another reflection that I have in looking at last year is growth. We grew immensely as an organization. We saw growth in our services and in how we respond and show up for the community.
Another reflection that I have in looking at 2022 is hope. Last year, the theme for our Report to the Community was “hope grows in the face of challenges.” Especially coming out of the pandemic, we needed to have some hope as an organization. We needed to have some hope as a community. I know for myself, I needed to have hope as a person and in how I show up in my own life and show up for others.
Q: How would you describe 2022 in three words?
Robyn: I’ve landed on the three Cs of community, connection and collaboration. That speaks to what we saw coming in on our crisis and 211 lines and our counseling services. It was about helping people get reconnected back with themselves, reconnected with their community after the pandemic.
One of the big focuses that we have at Distress Centre is really about community, whether that’s our internal community and the work that we’re doing to build up that community with our staff and our volunteers, or whether that’s how we are working within our broader community within Calgary, within Alberta, and with some of our work across Canada.
We can’t do this work alone. We need to come together to make some headway on some of the complex and tough social issues that are deep and interconnected. That’s where that collaboration comes in.
One of the fun aspects of the work we did last year was getting to connect with other people. Getting to talk about how we can do things differently as a community. How do we have new innovative ways of approaching how we serve the people that are reaching out to our services or the people that are reaching out to some of our partner organizations?
So for three words, I’m going to stick with my three Cs and bring them forward into this year as well: Community, connection and collaboration.
Q: What’s something happening in 2023 that you’re excited about?
Robyn: There’s so much to be excited about right now!
One of the cool things is some of the stuff we’re doing with our people. Last year we launched a community of practice internally with all the people who are in a supervisory position at Distress Centre.
We’ve started a book club and are having people read along and learn, grow and develop together in a safe and shared space. That’s one of the things I’m super excited about – maybe because we picked the book that I really liked and wanted to read! (laughs) I’m excited to bring all of our people together and have that time for growth and development even when it’s so busy.
Another exciting thing that we have going on this year is we are holding our first golf tournament in June – the Drive for Distress Charity Golf Tournament! The team is bound to have a fun day planned, and we hope to see a lot of people out both having a good time – focused on that community and connection – but also in support of Distress Centre.
Q: Can you share an update from our strategic plan?
Robyn: We are now into the start of year two of our strategic plan – a plan that’s not only our plan, but a plan that’s really for the community and developing those community partnerships. One thing that we’re focusing on this year is the move from traditional information and referral – providing someone with a phone number or an address but leaving them to do that work on their own – to making sure that they do get connected to help and ensuring that they have those wraparound supports.
Another exciting venture this year is our community-based training. One of the things that Distress Centre is well known for is the training that we provide to our volunteers.
For a number of years now, we’ve been talking about as an organization, how do we bring that training more into community? How do we help a neighbor to help a neighbor? How do we help build up communities to be able to support one another? We know that with some training and education, any person can support and help their friend, neighbour or colleague. And we’re excited to provide more of those training opportunities this year to the community.
Thank you for reading an update from our CEO, Robyn Romano! If you want to support the work of Distress Centre, sign up to volunteer with us or make a donation. Stay updated on all things DC by following us on social media and subscribing to our newsletter.