Our History

In Memory of Brenda Strafford

The Brenda Strafford Foundation’s Heart Home Network, the HHN, was established in January 1996 (under the name Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence) when it became apparent that there was a dire need in Calgary for long term accommodation and substantial supports for women and children exiting emergency shelters. HHN invited the heads of local crisis shelters and other active community members to form an Advisory Committee to suggest solutions to this pressing problem. In cooperation with the Calgary Housing Company, the HHN opened its doors to families fleeing domestic violence. Throughout its history, the Network has evolved to be one of the largest post-emergency shelters in Canada.  

The Brenda Strafford Foundation was established by Dr. Barrie I. Strafford to honour his late wife, Brenda Strafford who tragically passed away in a car accident in 1974. Dr. Strafford chose to commemorate her life by converting his business, River View Nursing Home Ltd., in Medicine Hat, into a registered Canadian charitable organization. When River View Nursing Home was sold, Bow View Nursing Home (owned by Dr. Strafford since 1963) became The Foundation’s base in Calgary. As a registered charity, The Brenda Strafford Foundation is involved in several projects forinnovation in seniors health and wellness. As well, The Foundation supports local charitable projectsto serve women and children who are fleeing domestic violence, families at risk of homelessness, and persons in need of health services abroadin Haiti, Jamaica, and Dominica. The Foundation also has a close affiliation withresearch at the University of Calgary.  

In 2016, our Founder and Chairman Dr. Strafford passed away at the age of 87. He was an active member of The Brenda Strafford Foundation until his final days, leaving a thriving legacy in his wife’s name that is well-positioned to honour his legacy as well. Dr. Strafford loved helping others in need, especially marginalized groups. He was a champion for populations whose circumstances were preventing them from enjoying a quality of life and a level of dignity many of us take for granted every day. That torch has now been passed on to us to carry.  

In 2020, The Brenda Strafford Foundation celebrated 45 years of impact. As we continue to build upon the achievements and successes of our past, looking ahead, The Foundation has a promising future that is full of immense potential.   

In 2019, the Heart Home Network celebrated 25 years of supporting women and children in the Calgary community. We are incredibly grateful for the continued support of the Strafford family, and the Foundation’s commitment to ourMission, Vision and Valuesremains true to our guiding philosophy…  

The Preservation of Dignity and The Pursuit of Happiness. 

Unifying for Great Causes

In April 2022, after 26 years of operation as an independent registered charity, The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (The Society) officially merged with The Brenda Strafford Foundation to form a united organization!  

As our founder and long-time funder, The Brenda Strafford Foundation was an ideal partner in our joint mission to provide the highest standard of service to vulnerable populations. The merger was incredibly exciting for many reasons; both organizations have been able to widen their networks, create new meaningful connections, and streamline operations to allow for further organizational growth. The day-to-day operations of The Society were not impacted; we continued to provide shelter, housing and supports for women and children impacted by domestic violence. The Brenda Strafford Foundation and Society cooperated during this transition to ensure the highest quality of services for clients, honouring the important roles and contributions of The Society and its highly valued people and stakeholders.  

This new development is a significant milestone for both organizations, with the common goal of ensuring sustainability of services and the preservation of Dr. Barrie Strafford’s legacy to serve the critical needs of women and children leaving abusive situations. The merger has allowed us to pursue growth and development opportunities to support our vision of a community free from family violence under the framework of ‘BSF Cares,’ The Brenda Strafford Foundation’s newly developed Strategic Plan for charitable initiatives and social service delivery. Along with our united status, The Society has chosen a new name that better reflects our scope of services and positions us for future growth. We are now known as The Brenda Strafford Foundation, Heart Home Network.  

Expanding our Support into Okotoks

The BSF Heart Home Network has been engaged in exploring opportunities to expand services to under-served populations and communities. The Town of Okotoks and surrounding rural areas continue to face significant challenges related to gaps in service locally for women and children impacted by domestic violence. We have been truly fortunate to develop a relationship with the Town of Okotoks. Following the donation of land by the Town of Okotoks, we proposed building 39 transitional housing units with common amenity spaces for women and families fleeing domestic violence. Currently, we are pursing funding to turn this project into a reality. Stay tuned for new developments!