Melissa Hillman, fourth-year psychology student at Red Deer College, assisted people in completing a poverty awareness survey at The Mustard Seed Friday. The survey results will be used for the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance’s needs assessment. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

CAPRA asks Red Deerians to fill out poverty awareness survey

A Red Deer College student is teaming up with a local organization to learn more about poverty in the city.

Fourth-year psychology student Melissa Hillman, 23, created a poverty awareness survey to assist the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) in its upcoming needs assessment.

The survey will help CAPRA understand views and opinions about poverty in the city.

Born and raised in Red Deer, Hillman said her mother works in the poverty reduction field.

“It’s always a conversation that comes up in our family,” said Hillman. “She’s very passionate about it, which makes me really passionate about it.”

“Working with the community I was born in raised in means a lot to me,” she added.

Hillman spoke with her RDC instructor about doing the project a few months ago – her instructor then introduced Hillman to members of CARPA.

After months of working with CAPRA to develop the survey, and make it Red Deer centric and user-friendly, it was released to the public.

On Friday, Hillman, along with other psychology students, visited The Mustard Seed to receive input from people who use its services.

“This [survey] is the first step towards creating change in the community,” Hillman said. “We’re getting the perspectives of the people who have lived experience – those are most important when it comes to this subject.”

Dianna Souveny, City of Red Deer social planning community facilitator, said having students go through the survey with people was very helpful.

“This will really help us form the basis of our upcoming needs assessment,” said Souveny.

“We want everyone represented in this survey,” she said. “The more input we have from the community, the richer our data will be.”

After finishing the survey, participants received a $10 Tim Hortons gift card and a 15-minute personal pampering session from Solórzano Spa.

The survey, which is open until March 15, can be completed online at

Hillman will analyze and present the survey results to CAPRA in April.

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