By Ellyse Lambie, Volunteer Coordinator, Community Services, Catholic Family Service

Catholic Family Service has been offering the Families & Schools Together (F&ST) program for 20 years. A world-renowned family skills program, F&ST supports each member of the family to be the best they can be – at home, at school and in the community. It is a short-term, preventative school-based program aimed at strengthening bonds between parents and children and between families and their schools.

Central to the operation of F&ST is a group of dedicated, compassionate and caring volunteers who share their time in support of building strong families. At each F&ST program, you will find 10 to 20 hard-working volunteers setting up and cleaning up the program space, serving meals, playing with children, and sharing smiles and friendly conversation with families. The F&ST program could literally not operate without these influential volunteers.

This fall, we were fortunate to have Chris Whelan volunteer at not just one, but two F&ST sites. Chris’s enthusiastic hellos, his compassion for the families in the program, his desire to help and make a difference in his community, and his dedication to the volunteer role strengthened the F&ST program and its impact on families. Chris chose to volunteer with the F&ST program to gain experience working with families, talking with children and seeing the strengths that families possess. As someone who is working towards becoming a social worker, the F&ST program gave Chris an opportunity to build his confidence in empowering families.

Thank you, Chris, for sharing your time with the F&ST families! And thank you to all our F&ST volunteers!

Interested in joining F&ST as a volunteer? Two schools in Calgary’s southeast are operating the program from January to March 2017 and would welcome your involvement. Contact Sarah Seminara at for more information.