The 8th Annual UP & Away Charity Gala on May 4 was a record-breaker in more ways than one.

Hosted by the Unlocking Potential (UP) Foundation, the sold-out event raised an unprecedented $200,000 to support the Affordable Counselling Program of Catholic Family Service (CFS).

These funds will ensure that compassionate and high-caliber counselling is available to people of all faiths and cultures, regardless of their income or circumstances.

“This support could not have come at a better time,” said UP/CFS CEO Patricia Jones. “The Affordable Counselling Program received a funding cut at the end of 2016 and investment from the community was needed to ensure families could continue to receive counselling at a rate they can afford.”

Corporate support for the Gala has never been better, thanks to Gold Sponsors Precision Drilling and Bennett Jones, plus 15 additional companies who sponsored the event in the face of continued economic strain in Calgary.

“We are profoundly grateful that the corporate community is choosing to invest in building strong families through affordable counselling,” said UP Board Chair Tony Ciarla.

In keeping with the Gala’s 2017 theme – Answering the Call, Offering Hope – keynote speaker Sheldon Kennedy, Lead Director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, emphasized the importance of inter-agency cooperation in Calgary.

“Families are resilient and they can handle the outcomes of what happens to them,” Sheldon said. “What they can’t handle is the run-around.”

In her speech to the Gala crowd, Patricia Jones underlined the importance of a welcome, immediate and hassle-free response to anyone who reaches out for help.

“Asking for help is not a weakness,” Patricia said. “It is likely the most courageous thing any of us will do in our lives. So we have to get it right when people call us, we have to.”

“Our promise is that we will treat you with reverence and find a way to say yes to you.”

Led by Master of Ceremonies Linda Olsen of Global Calgary, the Gala featured a banquet dinner at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park, exciting silent and live auctions, a noisy and fun balloon raffle and other fundraising options for guests.

Next year’s Up & Away Charity Gala is already in the planning stages. Mark your calendar for May 3, 2018 and join us! To reserve your table for UP Gala 2018, please contact Stakeholder Relations Manager Jim Campbell at

The Unlocking Potential Foundation is the fundraising arm of Catholic Family Service. Driven by compassion, not religion, CFS and UP build strong families in Calgary and the surrounding areas.