In August of 2021, Bill Zheng, then a grade 11 high school student and some high school friends stumbled upon LavaMae's Pop-Up Care Villages (PUCVs) in the San Francisco Bay Area - designed to bring services like showers, health care, clothing, and haircuts to the unhoused - and how accessible they were, they planned to launch one of their own in Calgary.
Unfortunately, given that they were not a non-profit organization and not connected to any vulnerable population serving agencies, the idea was shelved.
Come April of 2022, one of the Team Leads in the Grassroot Outreach Collaborative, Kristen Baranieski, brought up the idea of this Pop-Up Care Village to the table. Bill and Kristen quickly connected with Sam Reardon, Lead Program Consultant from LavaMae, and began coordinating the project as a collaborative effort from seven grassroot initiatives, including BeTheChangeYYC, AAWEAR, Angels in Action, Sobercrew/A.I.M, Harvest Hill Cares, and Hearts for Humanity.
Later on, Hanna Woodward, RSW, BeTheChangeYYC's program coordinator began taking over the lead of logistics and planning of the Calgary Pop-Up Care Village, alongside Bill Zheng. The two individuals formed a planning team and was able to hold the first successful event on September 27th, 2022.
The Calgary Pop-Up Care Village is really a festival for anyone experiencing systemic vulnerabilities such as homelessness, addiction, mental health issues, poverty, low-income, and more. The festival provides equitable access to basic services such as case management, healthcare, clothing, haircuts, food, and more to the community. This is a one-day event that upholds guests' inherent human dignity, and it bridges the wider Calgarian community with the underserved population.