Inside Silvera, issue 14

Q and A with Kyle Fawcett, Chief External Relations Officer

Kyle Fawcett joined Silvera’s executive team in early October. Here, he talks about his career before joining Silvera and what he hopes to accomplish.

What did you do prior to joining Silvera?

A large part of my career has been spent in elected public office, first as a school trustee, then as a two-term MLA. During my time in the Legislature, I was appointed to several cabinet positions that included Minister of Labour, Minister of Environment, and Associate Minister of Finance. I was appointed Associate Minister of Recovery and Reconstruction after the 2013 floods in southern Alberta.

After my political career, I spent some time in marketing and business development and initiated a few entrepreneurial ventures, including co-founding a renewable energy project development company.

Why did you decide to join the Silvera team?

The draw to Silvera was based on my understanding of how important the organization is in the Calgary community. Older people need to be able to live a life of dignity while accessing safe and secure housing in vibrant communities. Silvera has played that role for a long time in this city and seeing the changes in Calgary’s demographics – an aging population – means this role will become even more important.

What is your educational background?

I’m a born and raised Calgarian, and after high school I received my bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the U of C. Two years ago, I earned an MBA at the University of Alberta.  

Your role at Silvera is a new position. Tell us about the different parts of your portfolio.

The biggest aspect of an external relations function is to ensure communication is happening with all stakeholder groups – it needs to be consistent, strategic, and moving the organizational purpose forward. Silvera needs to do a good job of telling our story with our partners and funding agencies, donors, community partners, internal stakeholders, residents and families. My team helps ensure the Silvera brand is well positioned.

The key parts of my team include Communications, Marketing & Leasing, Donor Engagement and Government Relations.

How do you intend to advocate for seniors through your role?

It’s important to recognize that what Silvera does requires a strong partnership with all levels of government. We need to continue to manage those relationships and ensure the government is properly supporting Silvera, that our communities and operations are well funded, that we’re building necessary housing in the right places while being mindful of the economic realities of our city and province.

What motivated you to get involved with politics at such a young age?

As a child I read a book about Jackie Robinson, the baseball player, and this quote of his stuck with me: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” I think that’s what motivated me to get involved in public service. I feel pretty satisfied that some of my efforts have led to making the community a better place. In my role with Silvera, I want to continue that commitment of service and having an impact.

What are your favourite things to do outside of work?

I like to spend time with my wife walking and exploring areas around our downtown neighbourhood. I grew up playing a lot of sports and still watch baseball, hockey and football. Though I’m not in politics anymore, I do quite a bit of reading about current events.

WWII veteran, Ernest Jones, shares his story

Every life is made up of stories. Long-time Queens Court resident and proud veteran, Ernest Jones, can tell a few especially interesting ones from his time as a young teenage naval officer during WWII.   

At age 14, Ernest Jones ran away from a difficult home life in North Wales and made his way to Liverpool, England. There, he lied about his age to join the crew on a Merchant Navy freighter, a job for which the minimum age was 16.

It was 1940 and a young Ernest – nicknamed Jonesy by his crew mates – would spend the remainder of World War II ferrying food, raw materials, supplies and troops between North America and Europe in support of the Allied war effort. In his estimation, he made the North Atlantic crossing more than 100 times.

Showing a keen interest in the radio operations, Ernest was eventually promoted to First Radio Officer two years into his service. At age 16 (his superiors were by this time aware of his real age), he was one of the youngest sailors to make rank of Merchant Naval Officer during WWII.  

The Merchant Navy is made up of civilian sailors and the types of freighters Ernest worked aboard during the war were unarmed vessels. But crossing the North Atlantic during the war was not only vital to the war effort, it was also extremely dangerous. Merchant boats were prime targets for enemy action, more than half of the British Merchant fleet was sunk by German U-Boats, and 32,000 British merchant sailors’ lives were lost. In 1992, Merchant Navy sailors employed in support of UK military operations were legally recognized with the title of UK Merchant Seafaring Veterans.

About this time of his life, Ernest says, “I was simply one of the incredibly lucky ones. And I saw it as a grand adventure. It was great fun.”

Some of his fond memories include times when he was on leave. He attended concerts in Great Britain and loved to dance. One very memorable moment was meeting Queen Elizabeth II when she was an 18-year-old princess driving an ambulance in the British Army corps.

Ernest stayed on with the Merchant Navy until 1951, when he immigrated to Canada at age 23, eventually making his home in Calgary. Ernest has lived with Silvera for nearly 30 years.

If you have a story you’d like to share, please email us at [email protected].    

Community Living Coordinators: new name, same trusted service

Silvera’s Placement Team has a new name – they’re now known as the Community Living Team. The word ‘placement’ didn’t adequately represent all the work and caring the team puts into ensuring that each person feels valued.

The Community Living Coordinators build strong trusted relationships with all those who are seeking housing, and with current residents in Silvera communities. They ensure each person is housed correctly, based on many different aspects of their lives. That sometimes even means referring people to different housing providers to find their perfect home.

The new name doesn’t change their roles or responsibilities, but we do have changes within the team, so please welcome them!

Stacey Bennett

Stacey is an in-field Community Living Coordinator who spends much of her time in Silvera’s communities, meeting with future residents to help them find the right new home. 

Saby Paul

Saby is an in-house Community Living Coordinator. She fields inquiries, organizes documentation, and makes preliminary recommendations on housing choices. She works in the Centre 70 office.

Selena Skory

Selena is an in-house Community Living Coordinator. She fields inquiries, organizes documentation, and makes preliminary recommendations on housing choices. She works in the Centre 70 office.

Danielle Girodat

Danielle is the Community Living Coordinator for the Glamorgan Campus communities, coordinating leasing for Westview and Westview Residences West. Additionally, Danielle is responsible for Varsity Estate Village and assisting with Willow Park on the Bow. Danielle has an integrated role in our social media platform for Westview and other marketing initiatives.

Amanda Poitras

Amanda is brand new to Silvera. Her role as Infield Community Living Coordinator will cover all independent living communities, including the mixed market of Willow Park on the Bow, and possibly select Full Services communities as well.

Guarding Silvera’s reputation during a crisis

When an emergency strikes, the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is activated. A key component of the ERP is a crisis communications plan, which is put into action by the Communications team as managed by Kyle Fawcett, Chief External Relations Officer.

It is a stand-alone document that provides a team structure, procedures and tools to communicate with internal and external audiences about what Silvera is doing to respond to an emergency. The crisis communications team actions the plan and works directly with the leader of the ERP structure.

“Think of crisis communications plan as being fused to the ERP,” says Kyle. “It’s the arm of the response that ensures Silvera is positioned to be the trusted source of truth. We need to be the single channel that residents, their families and employees tune into for the timeliest, most accurate information. We also need to be mindful of anyone else who could potentially be impacted.”

At any given time during an incident, audiences can include residents, their families, employees, neighbours of Silvera communities, the media and the public. They look for timely updates from Silvera directly, and through conventional media (radio, television and newspaper) and social media (including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

The team works with employees across Silvera, helping them have the correct information when interacting with the organization’s many stakeholders. Community management teams are often involved, given all the touch points they have with internal and external audiences.

“An emergency well managed but poorly communicated can be damaging to an organization’s reputation and brand,” says Kyle. “Excellent communications during an incident can reduce the emotional load on people. Organizations that communicate transparently in a crisis, with aligned information, can emerge with a stronger brand.”

In the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Silvera recognized the virus’ movement early on. We proactively activated the ERP in spring 2020, giving us time to be as prepared as possible “should” it reach our communities. The crisis communications team began preparing key messages, updating letter templates and more.

The plans remained activated for just a few weeks, while the organization has remained focused on operating safely and vigilantly. From a crisis communications perspective, daily updates were done when any community was in a declared COVID-19 outbreak.

Silvera Games 2021: the competition continues

Congratulations to all participants in the annual Silvera Games! Residents from across our communities really got in the spirit as they competed in mini golf, Washu toss, ping pong, frisbee toss and bowling knock-down.

Because we couldn’t all gather in one place to compete, results from each community were compiled to determine the winners. The overall points leader was the team from Beaverdam! But the most important thing is, everyone had a lot of fun!