January 26, 2017 1:28 am
Updated: January 26, 2017 1:51 am

Calgary’s most vulnerable celebrate Christmas in January

WATCH ABOVE: Some of Calgary’s most vulnerable celebrated Christmas in January hosted by CUPS. Kim Smith brings us the inspiring story of one man who says the organization saved his life.

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Christmas has come and gone but on Wednesday evening, about 400 of Calgary’s most vulnerable people celebrated in style for the Christmas in January dinner at Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS).

Judy McKearney has been volunteering with the event since it first started 25 years ago in the basement of a church with only five volunteers.

Her late friend, Shirley Hopkins, founded the event.

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“It is changing for me and very near and dear to my heart,” McKearney said. “We’ve never seen the struggles in this city that we’ve seen in the last couple of years.”

Peter, who’s asked that we don’t use his last name, said CUPS saved his life. He said he suffered abuse and addiction as a child.

“I was two and my sister was one when my biological father killed my mother in front of us,” he said. “All that anger and hate I had inside of me, made me this unstoppable hockey player on the ice. People said I was going to make the NHL. Then I fell into addition at 13 to take away what had happened to me as a kid.”

“If it wasn’t for this place, I’d be dead.”

Peter ended up in prison but was introduced to CUPS when he was released seven years ago. He said CUPS helped connect him with mental health services.

“They didn’t just save my life (but) gave my kids a father back again,” he said.

Last year, CUPS saw a 10 per cent increase in the number of people needing its services, which is about 1,000 more people.

“It’s a significant increase. And then the challenge of doing that with the same level of funding,” Cheryl Lemieux, CUPS’ senior director, said. “But we’re looking to the future. We feel optimistic.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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