Find your Friday: Softchoice volunteers at the Calgary Dream Centre

The smell of a freshly waxed floor always brings me back to boot camp. No, not the type designed by some fitness guru, but the real deal. My military baptism – 28 weeks of blood, sweat and tears!

Martin Laanstra

Martin Laanstra, Softchoice

When I first entered the massive gates of the Marines barracks at Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, the first thing I noticed was how clean and orderly it was. Everything was neatly placed. Every task, every step we took over those grueling weeks served a purpose – from the exposure to the elements, to the sleep deprivation, to even waxing the floors every Friday evening.

We all looked forward to Fridays, because they were synonymous with conquering another week. And waxing the floors was the very last thing we did before getting the weekend to recoup for the week ahead. Even though boot camp, and my subsequent deployments, were tough I always counted on this one thought to cope: every bad situation will come to an end. There will always be a Friday.

That’s what we learned. That’s what we practiced. I still practice it today in my personal and professional life.

Unfortunately, for some, ‘Fridays’ never come. To cope with constant stress that life places on them, many seek comfort in drugs or alcohol, and lose just about everything. These are the folks that Calgary Dream Centre (CDC) seeks to assist. CDC is a non-profit organization that works with the city’s most vulnerable people to help them escape the cycle of homelessness and addiction.

In December, Softchoice’s team in Calgary helped the CDC to get ready for their annual sponsor event. Our team of 10 people worked in shifts, wrapping chocolates, and organizing the kitchen and the venue. It was there when we quickly realized that we wanted to make an even bigger impact. Earlier this year, at the CDC’s request, we used one of our volunteer days to help them renovate their classroom in preparation for the event we sponsored – the launch of a new women’s program.

This time, 16 of our Calgary employees came out to help transform the classroom and other areas of the Centre. In one packed day, we:

  • Repainted the classroom and the hallways on their basement level
  • Relocated and installed the classroom’s Smart Board
  • Repainted their café and fixed the espresso machine!
  • And also donated 30 yoga mats for their health and wellness program

In total, the CDC said we saved them over $10,000 in goods and services, as they could have never been able to do all that work on their own. They’re now set up for success for the future.

The classroom is transformed into a functional space where people can gather and, together, learn to break their addictions. Their programs are more effective and immersive with the use of the Smart Board technology. The café instantly became a place where people want to hang out, chat, and enjoy a cup of coffee. And the yoga mats will further enhance their successful health and wellness program.

Most importantly, we felt a spark run through the CDC on our volunteer day there – through our team and theirs, and through the people who depend on the CDC for help. It’s a spark I can only hope, helps to give them the strength and confidence to one day find their ‘Friday.’

For me, it’s freshly waxed floors that bring me back to that place where hardships end, and where I can find relief. For them, perhaps it will be the smell of fresh paint or freshly brewed coffee at the CDC that centers them and helps them remember that every bad situation can and will come to an end.

About Martin Laanstra

Martin Laanstra leads Softchoice’s Services and Solutions team in Western Canada. He started his working career in the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, where he was a hand-picked member of the strategic reconnaissance troop. Throughout his time with the Marines, Martin was awarded with various medals, insignias and diplomas commemorating tours of duty, leadership abilities, and specific theatre skills. Since 2001, he's lived in Calgary with his wife Yvonne and their two boys.