Author Archive

Who Represents Hunger, Part 3

April 1, 2015

 

If you have been elected to political office, you have a big job.  You have to listen to your constituents, provide leadership, help a lot of people and try and invest in the neighbourhoods and businesses that make up your district.  All the while, you are also working with your political neighbours, reacting to events both big and small and trying to do the “right thing” by different constituencies, some of which, have conflicting views of the world.

People who struggle with poverty and live on a low income are one of these interests, and traditionally, they do not have a respected place in public discussions.  There are groups that advocate for and with them, but in talking about the issues, there are not always good numbers to use to describe the scale or impact of certain social problems.

Take hunger or food insecurity for example.  As I discussed in my previous post in this series, the number of people using food banks is hard to pin down.  It may be getting a little easier in Ontario, as I discussed in a recent post about Link 2 Feed, but if we want to talk to elected representatives locally about the number of people they represent that currently struggle to get food on their tables, it has been difficult, because those numbers haven’t really existed.

(more…)

Who Represents Hunger, Part 2

March 26, 2015
Demand for help is all over the Map and the House of Friendship Food Hamper Program

Heat map of household demand for food from the House of Friendship Emergency Food Hamper Program.

 

Hunger is all over the map.

In every city in Canada, people talk about some neighbourhoods as ‘better off’ than others. Though it can be tricky to specify what exactly ‘better off’ means (higher incomes? more walkable? lower property taxes?), we do seem to share some unconscious understandings about ‘better’ and ‘worse’ off neighbourhoods. However, these unconscious understandings do not often reflect reality. For example, when we mapped the addresses of all the families using our service in 2014 a striking point became clear: hunger is everywhere.

In every urban area in Canada some areas are ‘better off’ than others.  When we look closer at our records, certain neighbourhoods stand out very clearly, but as you can see, every part of Kitchener and Waterloo had someone who received service from us, at least once.  The darker, and redder the colour on the map, the more people that lived in that area needed to turn to us.  In my previous post, I discussed what people have shared about themselves with us, here at the Food Hamper Program.

(more…)

Who Represents Hunger? Part 1

March 18, 2015

For many people this door is their first experience with the House of Friendship Emergency Food Hamper ProgramToday it is snowing and you are waiting outside of a warehouse.

There are a number of other people beside you, shifting from one foot to the other, trying to stay warm.  A few people are chatting quietly, plumes of white billowing out in the cold morning air, but mostly everyone is pretty quiet. You feel a bit tense, and sense the same in those around you.  At 11 a.m. the door opens and you shuffle into a lobby with everyone else and begin to form two lines.  You’re eyes have to adjust for a few seconds, and you have to wipe the fog off your glasses.  You get into the line with the people who have not phoned prior to coming. You’re going to have to wait a little bit longer now.  You feel in your pocket for your wallet, wondering what kind of ID you are going to need to show.

You are at a food bank, you’re warming up a bit, but who are you exactly? (more…)

Link2Feed And The Technology of Food Assistance

February 25, 2015
Photo via Flickr

Photo via Flickr

Imagine you are sitting in a boat, going down a river. It’s a fairly wide river, it’s a nice day, you’re enjoying yourself.

Suddenly, there is a loud thump under your feet. The boat shakes and you land in the bottom of the boat. You weren’t paying attention to what was happening, you were lost in a daydream, enjoying the moment. But now, you’re confused and covered in water, because all of a sudden there is a hole in the bottom of the boat and you are taking on water. A lot of water.

What do you do? (more…)

In The Middle of Things: Reflections on Becoming a Social Worker

January 5, 2015

Today, I am pleased to share a guest blog from Michael Hackbusch, and two of the BSW students we have on placement at the Food Hamper Program, the Sunnydale Community Centre and the Courtland Shelley community Centre.

House of Friendship believes strongly in housing as a right

My name is Michael Hackbusch, and at House of Friendship (HOF) I have the task (privilege, really), of providing practicum supervision to burgeoning social work students. These students are in the Bachelor and Master of Social Work programs and come mostly from Renison University College at the University of Waterloo but also Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Windsor and, this year, Carleton University.

We appreciate the partnership with the students on placement at HOF for causing us to reflect on our own practices, and to make explicit those things we assume are known. Further, by this act of mindfulness, we individually pay attention to our own reasons for serving through House of Friendship, how our service is needed, and why. They also give us cause to reflect on conversations we might have with our neighbours about systemic problems, which are often the reason for House of Friendship programs.

To that end, I posed a number of questions to two of our current practicum students, Lindsay and Dannika. Their answers reflect the students’ understanding of social work before and during their placement; how they have been challenged by both the program but also the people served; how they find a balance between classroom and practicum; and what advice they would offer to anyone considering a career in social work. Finally, I asked them what they know now, that they wish they had known months ago? (more…)

You Are Only One Google Search Away…

December 25, 2014
There is a global need for help - The House of Friendship of Kitchener sees many international connections

via Flickr

“I was claiming income support as I live in a hostel and am only 17, but they stopped it 3 weeks ago and I have no food left and as it’s so close to Christmas I’m starting to panic, is there any way you can help me please?”

The world is a big place but connected in surprising ways.

We receive many calls (or e-mails) for help, especially during the holiday season. Because of the global reach of the internet, some of those inquiries come from people who do not realize that we are -literally- on the other side of the planet.

The young person I’m quoting above emailed us from Europe.  This year I also received emails from as far away as Australia, and, within Canada, from British Columbia.

Thanks to the power of the internet, I am often able to quickly find a place to refer someone back to in their own community.  A place they no doubt overlooked in their frantic struggle to find food and other help, because, as we know from our work in this community each day, food is often the last of many needs that people struggle to meet.

So as we reflect back on the experience of Christmas Hampers and our year of work, meeting people from our community who had no food, it is sobering to remember that this small part of the world is not alone in its struggle to build a community where all can belong and thrive.

There is still much to do in 2015.

 

807 Recipes From Our Community

December 5, 2014

Emergency Food Hamper Program House of Friendship via Wordle

Today I am happy to share a collaborative project that the staff and volunteers of the Emergency Food Hamper Program put together to celebrate their work and their common interest in food.

It is a short cookbook of favourite recipes, and recipes from some of our friends.

We hope you enjoy it!

In the comments feel free to share some of your favourite recipes!  We are always looking for a new way to incorporate a new ingredient into our weekly menus at home or try something completely new!

To download the .pdf copy of the book, click on this link here: 807 Recipes from Community

50 Years of Sharing in Our Community

December 1, 2014

Since 1964 House of Friendship has been sharing the gift of food with its neighbours in need during the Holiday Season. A great many people have, over the years, been the specific parts of House of Friendship, doing the specific work involved in making sure folks in our community get Christmas hampers and toys.

Tony is one of the many dedicated Christmas hamper workers, whose steady and ongoing commitment to the Program keep it running smoothly, and growing!

His first experience with the Christmas Hamper Program was in 1977.

9 - Tony

Service, in style, as always.

 

“I think back then it was in the basement of a store on Krug Street. That year we maybe gave out about 800 hampers. Linda Worth was directing things, she was the only staff person, at the time she was the director of the Hostel, and Live and Learn. House of Freindship was pretty small at that point. At the time I joined other volunteers in delivering food. Volunteers were and continue to be the main reason why things get done here.”

A few years later, Tony got a job at House of Friendship after graduating from the University of Waterloo and was once again involved in Christmas Hampers on the staff side of things. Over 35 years later he is still here and each year has the privilege and challenge of setting up and running the program with a team of volunteers and staff. (more…)

Where Will You Go, If You Walk With Others In Our Community?

November 28, 2014

“House Of Friendship remains committed to working with our community and walking with our most vulnerable members to ensure we pursue long-term solutions to homelessness, poverty, addictions, and mental health.”

- John Neufeld, HOF Executive Director


Welcome to my walk with House of Friendship, my name is Marie Morneau.

My walk started some 13 years ago when my daughter Rosemarie started to volunteer at the Kingsdale Community Centre. Back then we were in portables, not the big beautiful building we have now!

Six years ago my husband Denis and I started to help by volunteering at Kingsdale, on Wednesdays. Denis drives the van to the Food Bank and brings back a load of food to Kingsdale, where we repack it and put it away. On Thursday we take that food and set it up for distribution between 1:30 and 3pm for people residing in the Kingsdale area. (more…)

The Story of 174 King North

November 24, 2014

Today we have a post by Robbie from Addictions Services in the first of a series of blogs providing information about the specific addictions programs. This blog will talk about 174 King Street North.

Almost 40 Years of Healing

174 King Street North is House of Friendship’s men’s residential addiction treatment program. This program is the first addiction treatment program that was operated by House of Friendship and they first began service in 1975. 174 King Street North was opened as a way to respond to the needs of the community at that time, and has continued to meet the needs of men who have serious substance use issues for almost 40 years.

174 King Street North is a unique program, located in the heart of Waterloo. Men come to the program from anywhere in the province of Ontario and the length of stay is up to six months. There is a capacity of 15 men in the program at any one time. There are many things that make the 174 King Street North program unique. It is one of the only programs that does not have 24/7 hour staffing, meaning that the men live in the house and staff come in during the day to facilitate a structured, intensive, program including both psycho-educational groups and individual counselling.

Unique Community

Staff members are always available to men after hours via a pager; however, this unique structure has contributed to the men developing their own sense of community, as they are reliant on themselves and each other to maintain a safe environment for all who reside there. The groups that are part of the program are ; Communication Skills, Healthy Relationships, Masculinity & Sexuality, Recreation, Relapse Prevention, Family Issues, Personal Goal Setting, Positive Life Skills, Group Counselling and Interpersonal Relationships. After care Group Counselling is also available.

The program is operated by a relatively small, extremely dedicated staff team who put their all into their work. The men who attend the program are provided many opportunities to go out in the community and develop relationships with others in recovery. The final phase of treatment at 174 King Street North provides men with the opportunity to move to a house which provides less structure to help men transition back into the community. This house has room for five men to attend and while they are still attend group programming and participate in counselling at 174 King, they also have the opportunity to look for employment, housing, volunteer opportunities or apply to go back to school.

Recovery and Celebration

Many men over the past years have taken the opportunities that the treatment program at 174 King Street North has provided them to change their lives. Many men who have completed  the program still have friendships with men they were in the program with and still connect with staff. Some take the time to return to the program and share their story with the new men seeking recovery. 174 provides two structured celebrating sobriety dinners in the year to provide the opportunity for alumni from the program to attend and reconnect.

 

 


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