As interim director at Inn from the Cold, Louise Gallagher helps Calgary’s most vulnerable despite her own share of adversities.
Gallagher hopes to ensure that Inn from the Cold’s vision statement — to build a community where no child or family is homeless — is fulfilled.
“When families come here, it's not that they're going to stay here a long time, it's that we recognize that shelter is hard and they need to find housing,” she says.
Gallagher further explains,“We create opportunities for them to connect into the right resources, with the right housing, with the right timing so that they can spend as little time as possible in shelters and become housed again.”
The organizations communications manager, Kara Layher, has worked with Gallagher for more than two years.
Commenting on Gallagher’s work ethic, Layher describes her as a “great leader and a really well-versed writer.”
“She just really uplifts people, and makes people recognize their own ability to be their true and best self,” Layher continues. “She fosters people’s best.”
Gallagher understands that everyone is faced with problems, but also that each individual wants to build a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
“I want to build a society where we recognize that everyone needs help sometimes, just different degrees. Together, we really can make a different world, but none of us can do it alone,” she explains.
Gallagher herself has faced many hardships, including abuse that she faced in a previous relationship.
This time in her life impacted not only her, but her children as well. Rebuilding her strained relationships with her daughters has been a long journey.
“It was almost five years that I was in that relationship,” she says. “When he was arrested and I got my life back, I was quite broken and I needed to do a lot of work on healing, to help my daughters heal and to help myself heal.”
Gallagher understood that in order to heal, the first step was acknowledging what happened and working to move past it.
“Finding the resilience, finding the support, finding the help to get back up is critical,” Gallagher continues.
Layher believes that Gallagher’s history of abuse has been a turning point that has fueled her desire to help others. Not only has she positively impacted many families and individuals, but she has also done a lot of healing for herself.
Gallagher wanted to share her story with individuals who had faced similar obstacles, and did this by writing her novel, The Dandelion Spirit.
The book, she says, is a representation of her past and it challenged her to confront her hardships head on.
Through her book, Gallagher found peace and became the best version of herself.
“We all hit hardships... all have these moments of adversity and, ultimately, it’s not the fall that kills us, it's the staying down,” she says.
The Dandelion Spirit is about a young woman who fell in love. Sadly the man unraveled his true character and began physically abusing her, and the novel follows her journey away from the abuse and onto a path that helps her heal.
Gallagher is delighted that her novel has helped many others overcome their obstacles.
Ultimately she wants her readers, and especially her daughters, to know that yes, hard times can happen but that you don’t have to let those challenges overcome you.
More importantly, she says,“It doesn't have to be what defines you.”
- By Harsimran Chahal