Archive for the ‘Community Centres’ Category

Crisis And Community Connection: Two Conversations

December 10, 2015
Children at the Sunnydale Community Centre can teach us all a lot

As a society, how can we follow the example of these children?

Last week, a young mother who is Syrian and Muslim, arrived at the Sunnydale Community Centre with her 3 year old daughter, visibly shaken.  On her drive here, she had stopped at a red light.  It was a beautiful day and so she had her car window open, as did other drivers.  She looked into the car next to her and was stunned when the man locked eyes with her and shouted “You terrorist!”  She quickly turned the corner and drove to the community centre.  We talked a long time, sharing her sadness and understanding her fear.

These are some words that were shared by Linda, who works at House of Friendship’s  Sunnydale Community Centre program.  Sunnydale is made up of people from all over our country, and from many places across the world.  Recently, many of us at House of Friendship were gathered together and the topic of conversation shifted to global events that are unfolding before all of us in the media each day.

We live in a connected world.  Decisions made by individuals or groups in distant corners of the earth can change our day to day lives in profound, unexpected ways.  They change our understanding of our place in the world, they stir our emotions, they inspire, frustrate and they terrify us in ways we cannot always fully comprehend.

How do we come to terms with our fear?  How do we stop spreading the hate and violence that occurs elsewhere and how do we open ourselves to helping those who have nowhere to turn? (more…)

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Community Through Food at Chandler Mowat

October 21, 2015

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House of Friendship (HoF) runs an Emergency Food Hamper program. If you’re reading this blog, you likely already know this. You might not, however, know that—or how—food is a big part of many other HoF programs. That’s a shame, because food is great. It brings people together, it is a vehicle for change, and it tastes so good! To help share the story of food at HoF, we enlisted our two summer students, Chloe and Khadija. Together they visited the Chandler-Mowat community centre, and what follows are their collected thoughts.

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Chandler-Mowat is one of House of Friendship’s four community centres, which the organization runs in partnership with the City of Kitchener. The community centre is also home to many City of Kitchener employees, volunteers, and so many of the wonderful folks around the neighbourhood.

Thursday afternoons are a busy time at Chandler Mowat. The food distribution program at the Chandler Community Centre is held once a week in their gym. It’s set up much like the farmer’s market with tables of food and community members walking by picking what they like. The only difference is that there is no exchange of goods – they are given away freely by program volunteers! Food distribution starts at 2:00, but it is not uncommon to see many patrons sitting in the waiting area well before it starts, catching up with neighbours. (more…)

What Inspires Community Builders like Linda K?

May 20, 2015

Today I’m happy to share a short profile of Linda K, the soft spoken community builder who I first met running the Live and Learn Program.  She is now an integral part of the Sunnydale Community Centre. Thanks to our BSW student Lindsay, who sat down with Linda and had the following to share with us.

Where do you work and what do you do?

“I work at the Sunnydale Community Centre in North Waterloo. It is a wonderfully warm and welcoming community which is home to many individuals and families living on a low income, including many new Canadians from varied cultural backgrounds. I work in partnership with residents and community partners to help identify and provide services and programs that meet community needs.” (more…)

Gardens Grow Volunteer Engagement

April 24, 2015

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This is the last post in a our week long series on the many gardens that have sprouted up around House of Friendship.  Aside from plants, there is a common thread that connects all of our different green endeavours together, and that is volunteers!

What better way to celebrate and recognize that amazing contribution than by sharing the words of Marlene, an all around incredible volunteer who was a dynamic presence at Supportive Housing last summer and fall.

She spent quite a bit of time working with tenants in the garden beds and kitchen, and shares some of her thoughts about what being a volunteer was like for her:

“Digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching things grow is every gardener’s delight. Last year, while digging in the dirt with House of Friendship residents, I had the opportunity re-visit the awe and wonder that comes along with seeing those little seeds sprout. We shared many laughs and chats while nurturing seedlings, creating new gardens and caring for mature plants.” (more…)

Gardens Grow Green Communities

April 22, 2015

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It has been our experience that a garden always gives back more than it receives. At House of Friendship this becomes clearer each spring as different communities and people connected to us start coming together to plan, to plant, to work and to celebrate. So many things come sprouting up from the gardens beside the vegetables: friendships, inclusion, new skills, laughter, stronger neighbourhood connections, healthier minds and bodies.

Giving Back on Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, celebrated around the world as a time to give back to the natural world around us and to promote greater environmental protection. It is one small way to give back to the world around us and to start up conversations about how we can continue to work towards greater stewardship of the environment- not just on Earth Day, but all year long. (more…)

Gardens Grow With a Little Help From Friends

April 20, 2015

House of Friendship Gardeners Get Ready for the 2015 Growing Season

In a sunny room at Charles Village, members of the Supportive Housing garden team gather amongst seed packets and pots of soil. They are getting their hands dirty starting seedlings and going over last year’s efforts in the gardens that have sprouted up around the Supportive Housing buildings: Eby Village, Charles Village and Cramer House, as well as at the Charles Street Men’s Hostel.

“I learned a lot about myself last year in the garden,” says one resident. “I’m excited to be a part of it again.”

Scenes like this are common for the garden team, as they work together to plan, plant, nurture and harvest garden beds and perennial flowers throughout the season.

Would you like to help out this season?

Today marks the beginning of the garden season at the House of Friendship and on our blog and social media! Our Supportive Housing programs, Community Centres and the Emergency Food Hamper Program need your help and your green thumbs now that we have cast off the cold and the ice of winter and are looking ahead to the growing season. Each day this week we will share a little bit about our past efforts and hopes for the coming season.

Why is it important to support these creative gardening efforts? (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…)

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!

Volunteers Profiled: The Band of Johns

September 22, 2014

Volunteers Embody the spirit of Sunnydale and House of Friendship

Many Canadians wake up early each Thursday to get ready for work. Such are my Thursdays this summer, but not everyone shares my schedule, not exactly anyway. I was fortunate to meet three wonderfully “atypical” individuals one Thursday at the Sunnydale Community Centre.

Their names are John Thiessen, John Paterson and John Wilken, or, as they prefer to be recognized, John 1, John 2 and John 3, respectively. Those numbers refer to their seniority as volunteers at the Sunnydale Community Centre. Each John is extremely different and together they form a sort of modern day Band of Robin Hood; the Band of Johns if you will. However, there is one major distinction between the two brotherhoods; unlike the Band of Robin Hood, the Band of Johns use donations and their time to aid those in need.  Their dedication to ensuring that the dietary needs of others are met, along with their compassionate and altruistic nature, shows through in all aspects of their volunteer work at Sunnydale. (more…)

House of Friendship Votes: What Does Your Community Think?

June 9, 2014

Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Fariba talking about her experience in the community and her hopes for the involvement of the community with the democratic process.

House of Friendship encourages you to vote for a poverty free Ontario

1. Tell me a bit about your work at House of Friendship.  What is your role?

I am a community outreach worker at Sunnydale Community Centre and my main role is to support low-income families with children, who live in my catchment area.

2.Who are some of the people that you might work with in a typical day?

Single moms with children, youth in the community, immigrant families old and new (refugees, new-comers), students, and visitors.

3. Do you vote?  Why?

Yes, I see voting as a fundamental democratic right which keeps me connected to the political process and  allows me to  express my opinion and address my concerns with politicians and the elected representatives in my community.

 4. What does the word democracy mean to you?  How would you define democracy in our day to day life as a community?

As its roots in Greek language the word democracy for me stands for “the government by people”.  That means all the people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives and it’s not only limited to participating in voting but also expressing ideas and concerns on decisions and policies in all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal).

5. In the communities you live and work in, do people engage with the democratic process?  Do they feel they have a voice?  Do they feel like they have power?  Why?

In my communication with members of communities that I am in contact with, the subject of politics is not a favorite topic. The most common concern raised is that people don’t feel they have a voice or that their input will be valued, and there are several reasons behind this kind of thinking.  To name some:

  1. Negative and painful past experiences with politicians and government in their original country
  2. Lack of knowledge of the Canadian political system and their individual social and political rights
  3. They feel their issues are ignored/not addressed during political campaigns

6. What barriers (if any) exist that get in the way of people participating in the democratic process at any level?  Why would someone in the community that you work with decide to vote, or decide not to?

Language barriers plays an important role in preventing the immigrant voters obtaining knowledge and information, which affects the development in interest and sense of purpose to vote.

Sometimes the location of the polling stations and the limited time/resources to get there is voiced as a barrier as well.

Those who decide to vote are mainly motivated by hope for positive change and want to support the candidate/party that address their concerns.  Also, the same reason of negative past experiences and the inability to exercise their rights in their country of origin, motivates many more to value and practice their rights in Canada and vote.

7. What would you like to see happen on Election Day in your community?

What I like and hope to see in all communities is more and more participation in voting and political decision-making in Canada