Posts Tagged ‘community centres’

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 changing face of food aid

June 3, 2013

Change is not an easy thing to face.

Sometimes changes are imposed from the outside, other times, you may feel that you are running in circles, achieving nothing and want to get out of the rut.  Maybe it’s time to go back to school, change your job, or just put a new coat of paint on things to brighten up your living room.  There are big changes, and not so big ones – but big or small, change is often hard for people and recognizing the need is rarely a straightforward job.

How do you know it’s time?

At our staff meetings at the Emergency Food Hamper Program, we sometimes find ourselves looking to the future of how we operate. We think about our impact as a program, and how our numbers have increased steadily since we first started giving out hampers. We think about the kind of community we’d like to be a part of. We talk about whether it would be better to have more warehouse space to give out more hampers, or more offices and a nice kitchen to help teach people food skills and increase the amount of anti-poverty advocacy we do.

At the House of Friendship, working with other organizations and people is a major part of our day.   We are always looking to volunteers, staff and community partners to help uncover a better community for all of us a little bit at a time. This is why places like the Stop, and its sister project, Community Food Centres Canada caught our eye—they offer a new way of seeing food aid, as more than simply emergency hampers. All across the province (and now the entire country) there are some fresh ideas developing and being nurtured by Community Food Centre’s Canada. They are trying to grow some change and set an example for how people can help communities build a better relationship to healthy food and advocate for a more just world.

What is a Community Food Centre? According to their website, it is:

“… a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. CFCs provide people with emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. People learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their tastebuds and help them make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community.”

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Supporting diversity during 12 Days for Good

December 19, 2012

Today’s 12 Days theme is ‘Diversity,’ which can be approached from many directions. Diversity is something that you might think of in terms of culture, country of origin or language but it can also apply to income, experience, age, outlook, or native language, to name a few. Today we’ve decided to focus on cultural diversity, and in particular on ways the Sunnydale residents have used diversity to transform their neighbourhood.

We’ve written about the Sunnydale community centre before, and for good reason. It has a rich history, not all of it happy.  For starters it is a multicultural hub but used to be known more as a neighbourhood with a high crime rate. Part of what helped turn that around is how they often bring people of all different cultures together as equals. Recently, the Sunnydale Community Centre received a grant from the City of Waterloo to publish a cookbook, bringing together family recipes from residents along with the story behind each recipe.

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

A picture of participants at food distribution at Sunnydale

The cookbook was inspired by a day when the neighbourhood made ‘stone soup’ together. Rebecca Seiling explained the process in the book’s foreward:

“Several years ago, the community participated in making their own ‘stone soup.’ As in the traditional tale, big pots of water were set of boil in the kitchen of the community centre which is at the heart of the complex, drawing out curious people from their homes. Stones were added to the water, with an encouragement to residents to bring whatever they could to make stone soup. Bit by bit, various ingredients were added to the pots: bamboo shoots, Chinese mushrooms, onions, carrots, cilantro, peppers, beets, potatoes, parsley, celery, garlic, turnip, and other ingredients whose English names were unknown—each one improving the flavour of the soup. In the end, the neighbours created something delicious that none of them could have made on their own.”

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Advocacy and family services programs at House of Friendship

November 22, 2012

In my last blog about advocacy at the house of friendship, I talked about advocacy in our residential programs and with our chaplaincy director, Michael Hackbusch. Today I want to talk about advocacy at the community level, with our family programs.

Advocacy work is something the House of Friendship has been focusing on more and more since our last strategic plan. When we developed our current strategic plan last year, over 400 people were consulted and over one third of those consulted were program participants. What we heard over and over was that people wanted House of Friendship to speak up more in the community to target the root causes of poverty. While we’ve been doing advocacy work for a long time, now ‘speaking up’ is actually in our mission statement, so it’s going to be a bigger focus in the next few years.

Though they’ve been quiet about it, our family programs have been doing advocacy since they began. Family programs at the House of Friendship include our four community centres (Chandler Mowat, Courtland Shelley, Kingsdale, and Sunnydale), as well as the camp sponsorship program. To get some background on each community centre, you can read previous blog posts here, here, here, and here.

In a lot of ways, the community centres are advocacy hubs by their very nature—they provide places for people to come together, have fun, and support each other. This sounds abstract but it’s very important; when people are part of a community they have better access to social networks and resources, and can more easily fulfill their needs. Neighbours who care about each other help each other out, and when there’s a serious issue facing the entire neighbourhood, a community that advocates together is much stronger than a single person.

People gather at Sunnydale for food distribution on a Thursday.

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What do we do other than provide food hampers?

June 20, 2012

As part of my ongoing training I’ve been tasked with finding out the services we offer other than food hampers. Although the bulk of our resources go towards providing people with emergency food hampers, we do offer other services. These fall into two main categories: non-food supports we offer to people who visit us, and food related services we offer to other organizations.

Let’s start with the non-food services we offer to patrons. First of all, we have our lovely lobby, which is kept in order by Wouda and Carola (see their profiles here and here). Everything in the lobby is free for anyone who wants it, including the clothing, shoes, and extra food we put out. We also offer people household goods, like pots, pans, cutlery, and even bedding, if they are in need. They can ask us for these things in our lobby and we try to accommodate their needs.

The lobby

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Not so different after all

December 24, 2011

Today is the day before Christmas, a day when many of us will be exchanging gifts with friends and family and coming together.  Today we thought it would be timely to share a few words from Michael Hackbusch, the Chaplaincy Director at House of Friendship about the local faith community, and the many gifts they share with our community each year.

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Chandler-Mowat Community Centre: Unity in Diversity

August 26, 2010

On Thursday August 5, Lianna and I visited the last community centre, Chandler-Mowat, to complete our four-part series along with, Sunnydale of Waterloo, Courtland-Shelley and Kingsdale of Kitchener. When our program supervisor first introduced us to this assignment, he pitched it as “a process to profile four community centres operated by House of Friendship”. Neither one of us had any idea what it meant exactly to profile the community centres. However, by the end of our visit to Chandler-Mowat, the 20-year-old community centre, it is safe to say that all four locations share one thing in common: food is being used as a means to build meaningful relationships and strong communities. (more…)

Visiting Kingsdale Community Centre: The Benefits of Traffic Jams

August 11, 2010

Following our visits to the Sunnydale and Courtland-Shelley community centres, EFHP sent Lucas and I to discover the role of emergency food distribution at the Kingsdale Community Centre.  We came away with tired feet and many reflections on how food insecurity presents unique challenges to this large, diverse neighbourhood.

First, a bit of context: Kingsdale is a Kitchener community of about 19,000 households, many of them made up of low-income or new Canadian families. Kingsdale settlement worker Chander Gosain shared that many are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Latin American countries.  Our tour through the Kingsdale Community Centre, run jointly between the Kingsdale Neighbourhood Association (KNA), House of Friendship, and the City of Kitchener, reveals rooms for programs such as sewing circles, settlement assistance, outreach, dance clubs, piano and guitar lessons, and after school clubs.

Many of these households benefit from a little extra food assistance during the week, a seemingly small undertaking that calls for dozens of volunteers and meticulous organization. Last year the program helped approximately 2500 individuals. Taking on this challenge is KNA President Janet Lilley, who shares that between 80-100 households are helped each week by the deliveries of excess produce from EFHP and non-perishables and frozen foods from the food bank.

When Janet chuckled at Lucas’ sandals, we knew that we wouldn’t be just passive observers. After a trip back to EFHP for Lucas’s steel-toed boots, we were ready for, as regular volunteer Margaret put it, “A real treat.”  We first piled the newly-delivered prickly pears, corn, zucchinis, bananas, and lettuce high around the indoor distribution tables, and soon patrons were received at the mini-intake desk in the lobby. What followed was an hour and a half of organized chaos. (more…)

Building a Community – One Young Soul at a Time

July 29, 2010

“Young”, “vibrant” and “energetic” were the first words that projected into my head when Lianna and I arrived at the Courtland-Shelley Community Centre. It’s not a typical community centre like YMCA, nor a two million dollar facility that you visit for your weekly workout. Low-key and modest, the centre sits among a neighbourhood of 69 townhouses, only distinguishable through its sign that reads “Courtland-Shelley Community Centre.” (more…)

Stone Soup at Sunnydale

July 23, 2010

In many ways, food distribution here at House of Friendship travels outside of the food hamper box.  Excess food from the hamper program, for example, is taken to HoF’s residential programs and community centres to assist with their programming. Lucas and I were given the task of visiting the Sunnydale Community Centre to observe how they distribute this food and swap some knowledge about KW food insecurity. What we discovered was not simply a table covered in fruits and vegetables, but a bustling, social space where community members can build relationships over the common need for food.

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