ABOUT US 2018-05-18T20:19:07+00:00

HOPE LIVES HERE

About Highbanks

Highbanks provides affordable housing and a nurturing community where young families can learn and grow.

OUR PROGRAM

The Highbanks program sets us apart. With an established Housing First model that addresses the need for long-term, safe and affordable housing, we seek to provide security, stability and eliminate a barrier to growth. While young mothers are required to attend school full-time, our after-school wrap-around services focus on three paths to development.
  • Parenting Skills: individual and group sessions with a trained parenting coach teach early childhood development tools and strategies.
  • Trauma Therapy: a registered psychologist supports young mothers to deal with systematic abuse and toxic stress.
  • Life Skills: a ‘Life-Wheel’ model of coaching to help young women identify and work towards goals in areas such as parenting, finance, education, emotion, cooking, nutrition and healthy relationships.

Highbanks also offers children’s programs, yoga, community dinners, events, self-esteem workshops, legal support and career counseling. We also invest in the future of our clients by providing recreation fund and an Education Savings Match program.

We see the potential in each person to discover and grow. While each resident ultimately navigates her own path to success, Highbanks provides a safe and supportive community to guide young mothers on their learning journey.

OUR MISSION

To provide affordable housing and a nurturing community where young families can learn and grow.

OUR VISION

A community of educated, confident, self-sufficient parents raising healthy, happy children.

A COMMUNITY OF DEDICATED STAFF, VOLUNTEERS AND PEERS

Our Team

Sharon McCormick
Interim Executive Director

After a career spanning two decades and including success in the private, non-profit, and public service sectors, Sharon now shares her leadership, change management skills and go-get-‘em attitude with organizations looking for new, innovative ways to sustain themselves and to grow as well as runs her own social enterprise business. As the founding Executive Director of Attainable Homes Calgary and previously Interim Executive Director for SPEC Association for Children and Families, Sharon relishes in the opportunity to be the Highbanks Society Interim Executive Director to help build an even stronger organization that serves our clients

Having been a single mother with young children, Sharon understands challenges that this can present and is dedicated helping other young women achieve success. Now a mother of four teenage and young adults, Sharon enjoys spending time with her family, curling, yoga, kickboxing and dragonboat racing.

Stephanie Schoenberg
Program Manager

Stephanie is a born and raised Calgarian who has spent many years studying, working and volunteering abroad including Belize, Jamaica, Germany, the US and Korea.  She has a Social Science degree with minors in TESOL, Dance and Theology.  She is also a Certified Nutritional Practitioner.

Stephanie has worked in several social services agencies over the past decade working with a variety of clients. She is dedicated to personal growth, health, education, connection and living an engaged, authentic, whole-hearted life.  The intimate, committed community of Highbanks captured Stephanie’s heart in 2010 when she moved back to Calgary from Korea, and she has been there ever since.

Stephanie plans, coordinates and facilities the programs at Highbanks and works one on one with Highbanks residents to support them in reaching their goals.

When not at Highbanks, Stephanie continues to study, writes, dances, hikes, practices yoga, and travels as much as possible.  She is thrilled to be a part of Highbanks’ community of thriving women pursuing their dreams.

Tammie Roy
Communications & Engagement Specialist

Tammie has more than 15  years experience in marketing and communications and brings a diverse skill set to the Highbanks team.  Her experience includes strategy & planning, project management, corporate identity development, content creation, social media and events.  Tammie is passionate about supporting women and women’s issues, and she recently participated in the Women Lead Program through the Women’s Centre of Calgary and is a cofounder of  YYC Women Entrepreneurs, a networking group for women in business.

Barb Monahan
Office Assistant

I have been the Office Assistant with The Highbanks Society since 2017. I am a bookkeeper/accounting clerk. I enjoy curling, gardening, crocheting and spending time with my family.

Lauren Kotylak
On-Site Guardian

Lauren completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Alberta and recently finished her Masters of Counselling degree at the University of Calgary. Her passion and interest in resiliency and child development allowed her to co-author a book-chapter with a professor on developmental trajectories. She has worked many jobs in the social services field including Alpha House, Wood’s Homes and recently finished her counselling practicum at Foothills Academy. In addition Lauren started Clean Living in 2015, a cleaning service dedicated to safe and environmentally friendly supplies.

Lauren’s belief in resilience and desire to make a difference brought her to Highbanks in 2017 and her love for the community and the residents has kept her here since. On top of monthly childcare, building maintenance, planning and facilitating community events, Lauren devotes a lot of her time to connecting with the families. She is dedicated to ensuring Highbanks remains a safe, accepting and loving community!

She is passionate about living life to the fullest and she puts her heart into everything.  Lauren is dedicated to her own self-growth and feels immense satisfaction when helping others and making meaningful connections with others. Lauren is a huge animal lover and if you’re ever in the community, you’ll be sure to see her two furry friends or our resident guard dogs- Jack and Ty. When Lauren isn’t working or spending time at Highbanks, you can find her meditating, brushing up on the latest nutrition/psychology research, practicing yoga or spending time with her friends and family.

A COMMUNITY OF DEDICATED STAFF, VOLUNTEERS AND PEERS

Current Board Members

Kristi McAllister 
Chair

Kristi McAllister

Allison Comeau
Vice-Chair 

Allison Comeau

Winta Asefaw
Secretary

Winta Asefaw

Denise Cook
Treasurer

Denise Cook

Lynne Christensen
Director

Lynne Christensen

Mark Hutchinson
Director

Mark Hutchinson

Christy Sonen
Director

Christy Sonen

Joshua Malate
Director

Joshua Malate

Melissa Pockar 
Director

Melissa Pockar

Trish Steele
Director

Trish Steele

Candace Bosman
Director

Candace Bosman

Varia Pylypchuk
Client Representative

Varia Pylypchuk

I now feel safe where I am. I have never known what that truly feels like until now. I have come to realize that I am worth it and my child is counting on me.

~ Highbanks Client

THE PEOPLE THAT BUILT OUR COMMUNITY

Our History

BETTE MITCHELL, Our Founder

As a parent educator, Bette recognized the need for safe, stable housing for many of the young parents she met. Many of the young women and their children were living in crowded conditions, lacked positive parenting role models and had no hope of improving their situation because they were not attending school regularly or at all.

Bette was inspired to help young moms realize their potential so they could one day live independently as the best parents possible. She named her new organization “Highbanks” after her parents’ cottage which symbolized comfort, home, safety and of being out of the water (on the bank), safe and dry, with a good view of where they had been and where they were going.

Early Stages

In 2001, Bette Mitchell and Lynn Giddings began investigating housing options for single parents in Calgary. When the lack of appropriate housing became obvious, they got to work. An office was set up in Bette’s living room and friends and associates were invited to join the Board of Directors. Bette and Lynn began writing their first proposals for funding. Soon Barb Vogen was recruited and her commitment to developing community partnerships and supporting the early organizing of the Society was invaluable.

After searching for an appropriate building to house Highbanks Society. Bowview Apartments in West Hillhurst was located as the ideal location: close to the Louise Dean School, West Hillhurst Health Clinic, childcare, public transportation, parks and a recreation centre. This 50-year-old two-storey building contained six small apartments with two retail outlets on the ground level. The popular Dairy Lane Café was an added incentive to purchasing the building. Young mothers who lived in the building could work in the café and gain valuable retail job experience. Highbanks purchased the building in December 2002 and took possession on March 1, 2003 – leasing until we became the proud mortgage free owners on November 1, 2003.

Founding Board Members

Elizabeth (Bette) Mitchell ~ 2001-2003, 2010-2012

Phillip Mitchell ~ 2001-2012

Jeff Jamieson ~ 2001-2012

Brian Lester ~ 2001-2004

Lynn Davis ~ 2001-2002

Lynn Giddings ~ 2001-2003

Theresa Morin ~ 2001-2003

Rick Lewis ~ 2001-2015

Suzanne McKinnon ~ 2001-2003

Sandy MacKay ~ 2001-2002

It feels good to have my own place. This makes me feel less like a teen mom, more like a real mom. The independence I get here means I am supporting my son and I have help achieving my goals. 

~ Highbanks Client

OUR NEIGHBOURS

In 2001, Bette Mitchell and Lynn Giddings began investigating housing options for single parents in Calgary. When the lack of appropriate housing became obvious, they got to work. An office was set up in Bette’s living room and friends and associates were invited to join the Board of Directors. Bette and Lynn began writing their first proposals for funding. Soon Barb Vogen was recruited and her commitment to developing community partnerships and supporting the early organizing of the Society was invaluable.

After searching for an appropriate building to house Highbanks Society. Bowview Apartments in West Hillhurst was located as the ideal location: close to the Louise Dean School, West Hillhurst Health Clinic, childcare, public transportation, parks and a recreation centre. This 50-year-old two-storey building contained six small apartments with two retail outlets on the ground level. The popular Dairy Lane Café was an added incentive to purchasing the building. Young mothers who lived in the building could work in the café and gain valuable retail job experience. Highbanks purchased the building in December 2002 and took possession on March 1, 2003 – leasing until we became the proud mortgage free owners on November 1, 2003.

Jim Lawn joined the Bowview family in July 2003 when he moved his barbershop over from Harry’s next door for the opportunity of a long-term lease. He provided quality men’s hairstyling and laughs in true Scottish style. In 2008, Jim and Highbanks welcomed Omar Sleiman. Together they operated under the banner of Velvet Style. Until he retired in 2012, Jim did his barbering on the right side of the room, while Omar did hair styling on the left. They have both been very supportive members of the Highbanks community.

Highbanks gives hope to these young families by providing:

 

SAFE & AFFORDABLE RESIDENCES

ACCESS TO EDUCATION & COMMUNITY RESOURCES

PARENTING SUPPORT & ENCOURAGEMENT

PEER SUPPORT