In 1998, when Kathie Aldridge was asked to remove the most important item from her wallet during a class at the University of Calgary, she didn’t hesitate.

There was no other option for the mother-of-four who was working 60 hours a week as a meat packer in the city. She took out her Calgary Public Library card.

As she looked at the card, which had become her pass to a better life, she pledged if she did live her dream, she’d give back.

This year, Kathie has done exactly that by donating $500 to the Library in recognition of how the institution helped change her life.

“Even though I then felt as though I had so many limitations, having the Library as a resource allowed me to see there was a future with other opportunities,” she said.

Kathie borrowed a book on higher education and noticed that the University of Athabasca offered online MBA programs without an undergraduate degree. After a few U of C courses, she successfully completed her Master’s.

Today, she works at her dream job as a business analyst but is painfully aware of the struggles many face and believes the Library offers hope—as it did for her 20 years ago.

“I have to travel on the train a lot and the reality hit me. I see many people in the day-to-day grind I was in. I also see lots of poverty and homelessness and people marginalized by income.”

“Even when I was going to school I thought, if I ever get to that place where I’m not so bound by finances I want to give back,” she added.

– Story by Chris Nelson

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