Author Archive

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.

 

 

What do Volunteers, Early Explorers And Food Hampers Have in Common?

November 17, 2014

House of Friendship Volunteers enjoy a recognition dinner and presentation in their honour

It is hard to get the volunteers of the Emergency Food Hamper Program to slow down and take a break. Nonetheless, once a year we manage to convince about 80 or so of them to sit down together long enough to enjoy a meal and to be recognized for the distance that they go for the people of our community. (more…)

House of Books

November 13, 2014

 

Photo via flickr

Photo via flickr

Little Libraries And Big Communities

If you walk through many neighbourhoods in Kitchener and Waterloo, you may have started to notice something out of the ordinary.

Little boxes on posts, that look like a strange combination of a mail box and a little bird house.  Sometimes they have a little window on the door that lets you peek inside.  What you find on closer examination, are books.  Lots of books!

Little Libraries, as they are called, are a simple idea.  In the words of the online hub that evangelises them they are:

[A] “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!

Locally you can go to Little Libraries of KW (here) to find out a few of the other little libraries.  They have a great map that will help you locate one close to where you live as well as tips, plans and encouragement if you want to make your own!

Community Connections at Sunnydale

On October 16, a Little Library was officially opened in the Sunnydale community in Waterloo.  Sunnydale’s Little Library is situated in a Waterloo Region Housing complex in which House of Friendship, Sunnydale Community Association and Waterloo Region Housing partner to operate the Sunnydale Community Centre.

A little library Comes to the House of Friendship Sunnydale Community Centre

 

Built by Jane Mitchell, Waterloo resident and Region of Waterloo Councillor, the Little Library has already seen many books come and go.   In the picture shared above, a young girl is seen choosing a book, with Jane’s encouragement.    Linda K, Program Supervisor of the Sunnydale Community Centre, shared that “located next to a busy community side walk, many area residents will pass and enjoy it each day. On behalf of the Sunnydale community, thank you Jane!”

The Library on Charles Street

The little library in front of the Men’s Hostel had a really strange/great beginning and reason for creating, says Brandon S. of Supportive Housing.

“There was a unique group of people that I had gotten to know that seemed to be intercepting at the same time.  There was a woman from one of the shelters that had seen one and wanted one near her area where she moved to. Then there was a few guys who were (in the past) looking for ways of using their painting/construction skills that were asked to help alongside Scott (of the maintenance department). There was also some men at the shelter that had been having some informal conversations with me about missing the times in their life where they would discuss ideas and literature and they wanted to do something to move towards that in some way.”

“I think for me my initial reason for wanting to do it was twofold. I’d been thinking about literacy and literature in low income populations, specifically how sparse these were and yet how meaningful they are when cultivated a bit. I’d also been thinking through some ideas around ‘fear of the other’ and how people can often pass by the shelter with heads down, scared of perceived things and assumptions around the men. I was hoping to be part of creating something that the men could use, could cause community members to stop/ maybe have conversation with people they normally wouldn’t interact with, and for these community members to also have access to books in a different way.”

“I don’t really have any interesting stories besides being surprised by how the guys take care of it, no vandalism, books tend to flow in and out well. It’s been neat to see the occasional passer-by stop and read the box, sometimes chatting with someone there, often just taking a millisecond break from a busy walk to work or school. Sometimes little things would catch me off guard like one of the guys repairing the bird house on top or another man closing the door of the box so that snow wouldn’t go in.”

Cynthia, a front line worker at the Hostel, adds that, “we all think the idea of sharing with anyone and everyone in the community is a really interesting concept.  You never know who took a book or who dropped a new one off. I find that the men like to share a book with each other and I try and encourage them to put them in the box after they are done to share with others in the community as well. We have also worked on creating a larger library here at the hostel, and the men seem to enjoy it.  Its a nice quiet and comfortable space with a couch that men respect as the quiet space at the hostel.”

The Power of Ideas

Little Libraries are a great example of the impact of a simple action that one person can do, to spur creativity, encourage sharing and get people reading!  Do you have a little library experience that you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Surprising Variety

September 19, 2014

Fall is in the air and our summer students have by now started their classes and gotten settled into their new routines.  Today I would like to share a retrospective post that Jessica drafted about her time here at the House of Friendship Emergency Food Hamper Program.

What were your first impressions and expectations?

One of my first impressions walking into the Emergency Food Hamper Program was that the staff and volunteers were so friendly and everyone was very welcoming. All the staff and volunteers seemed to really enjoy being there which was great to see, since that isn’t always the case in a work environment. On my first day the Monday order was just arriving and was introduced to sorting and putting away items. Although I was a little lost on how things worked everyone was so helpful and patient with me. Staff and Volunteers worked seamlessly to put the order away as a well-functioning team. The volunteers, like the staff, were extremely knowledgeable about what needed to be done. An organization such as this relies heavily on great volunteers and we’re lucky to have so many of those. After the first morning at the Emergency Food Hamper Program I knew I was going to have a great summer working here. (more…)


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