Posts Tagged ‘events’

“I Have Always Found a Friend in Music”

September 25, 2014

Today we have a post by Martin and Ashley W from the Men’s Hostel sharing details of a recent event organized by staff and residents

“One of the marvellous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.  When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing” Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Charles St. Men’s hostel held its third open mic night at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Thursday August 28th.  The open mic began with a vision to bring people together to share their talents and build a sense of community. We hoped to enact, in a very obvious and practical way, the more abstract HOF value of inclusion, which states that “We believe everyone has a seat at the table.” So we set up tables–thanks for the tables, St. Andrews!–and got to barbecuing, making sure we had enough food and seats for everyone from the community who wanted to eat, or sit and take in the festivities.

Residents from the Hostel and community volunteers were there to assist with food prep and serving.  It was a wonderful experience to see people coming together to help each other and make a contribution even in times of personal struggle.  We were grateful to walk beside these volunteers and participants during this experience and work in partnership as peers in bringing fun and sense of belonging to the community.

Once bodies were nourished, we started the soul-enriching work of making and listening to music.

Guests and participants of all ages came from House of Friendship programs and the community to share.  Over 125 people joined us at St Andrews to enjoy the local talent.  A fantastic local band including a resident of one House of Friendship’s programs volunteered to play for the event. They started off the evening setting the musical mood as one of relaxation and fun.  As the meal came to an end the floor was opened up for anyone to participate in sharing their talents and all in attendance were lucky enough to enjoy some of the talent from our supportive housing residents who brought the church to fits of laughter with their creative jokes and some singing.

The band was excellent in making everyone feel a sense of belonging. In one beautiful and improvised moment, they extended the hand of friendship to a resident who felt inspired to contribute a vocal solo, by using their instrumental talents to compliment his vocals and even including some back-up vocals. And in that moment the delicate joy that happens through shared music sat around us all.

All in all it was a wonderful night and we were inspired by the level of commitment, dedication, and involvement by participants of House of Friendship programming in the prep and running of this community event.  We really could not have done this without the generous assistance of the people we serve and are grateful to be able to work for an organization which encourages such a sense of community. We would finally like to thank St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for making this event possible by allowing us to use their space and graciously being available to help with set up.  We would also like to thank everyone who volunteered or assisted in any way and everyone who simply came to enjoy the event and be with us in this time of sharing and community building.

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Challenge and Encouragement – The Role of Peer Health and Shelter to Housing

May 8, 2014

Yesterday we posted about the upcoming Kindred Spirit BBQ happening today, Thursday at 5:30 at Kitchener City Hall.

Now I am happy to share an interview that Doug Rankin conducted with Clarence, an active community member working and walking beside people experiencing homelessness.  Clarence has his own lived experience to share, and a strong focus on the importance of community.  He will also be one of the two peopled recognized for their contributions locally.

What did you do as a Peer Health Worker at the Men’s Hostel?

I built relationships with people, and then supported them by listening and helping them solve problems. I would let them know what resources are available in the community so they had some points for accessing health care, housing, employment, food, clothing, and a lot of other resources. I was very positive and supportive of the men and would provide a lot of encouragement to them. And I was there to support them when they were ready move forward and make bigger changes. (more…)

A Call to Action from Kindred Spirits

May 7, 2014

Today I am pleased to share a post by Doug Rankin of the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre (KDCHC).  He has an important message about a great community event coming up this Thursday!  Tomorrow I will share an interview that he did with Clarence, a Shelter to Housing Worker at the Hostel and former Peer Health Worker with KDCHC who will receive an award at this event.

KDCHC_collogo

“We stand here tonight in solidarity with those who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. We all know that without our health we have nothing. Living without a home makes it impossible to maintain health. Every day is a challenge to find food, to stay warm and dry, to search out services, to find shelter, to seek health care, to be safe. Every day, witnessing friends struggling with illness and disease, often dying prematurely. We are a wealthy Region and it is not just that there are those without adequate shelter and living in poverty. No one should have to wait years on a list for affordable housing, sleep in unsafe and unsanitary rooming houses or spend the end of their life dying without a home. We ask you to now observe a moment of silence to show your support and to reflect on the work yet to be done.”

This is what volunteer Kim Wilson said to those attending the 9th Kindred Spirit BBQ last year, calling us to action as a community and highlighting the difficult reality that many live each day. (more…)

Upcoming workshops at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre

October 4, 2012

For people living on low income, being able to cook nutritious meals can be a challenge. Healthy food is often more expensive per calorie than less healthy processed food, and it can be hard to find the time and money to cook healthy meals from scratch. Like Melissa blogged about here, it can be hard to afford a nutritious diet after other monthly necessities have been paid for. People on low-income are also disproportionately affected by chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which are hard to manage on a limited income due to the price of nutritious food.

To help people manage the barriers they face to eating nutritiously on low income, the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre is hosting a monthly workshop called Eat Well Spend Less. This workshop is on once per month at the centre, and participants actually get to cook a meal with the workshop leader while learning more about eating healthy on a budget. To give you a sneak peek, October’s workshop is Thanksgiving themed. At the workshop you can expect to learn basic food skills, like food safety, and to talk about the nutritional content and cost of the meal. Workshop leaders will also offer tips for saving on ingredients. After cooking, everyone gets to enjoy the meal together.

Another workshop going on at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre is the Take Charge series, a workshop series meant for anyone experiencing a chronic health condition. A chronic health condition is simply a health condition which persists for a long time, whether it is mental or physical. This can include diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, chronic pain, depression and anxiety among others. The topics covered in the six-week workshops range from goal setting and stress management, to healthy eating and exercising.

Take Charge is a peer-led workshop, meaning it is co-led between someone who has experienced a chronic health condition as well as a Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre staff person. It is meant to be a supportive group setting, where people experiencing chronic health conditions can learn from and support one another.

The ability to eat nutritiously and manage chronic conditions are interrelated, and we see the effects of them every day. Like we have discussed in previous posts (such as this one), if someone cannot afford nutritious food it exacerbates the effects of diseases such as diabetes.

Both workshops require registration. The Eat Well Spend Less workshop happens the second Monday of each month from 1:00-4:00 pm at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre. Contact Charla to register at 519-745-4404 extension 242.

The Take Charge workshop series is every Monday from October 15th to November 19th, 1:30-4:00 pm and is also at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre. To register, call 866-337-3318.

Pitch in at the grocery store and online!

December 14, 2011

Today is the 5th day of our 12days campaign to get people to pitch in, and is a very busy day for the House of Friendship. Why? Well, today is the day that we started the distribution of Turkeys to the community – thanks to the help of many volunteers and the hard work of the Rotary Club.

Today is full of sharing, warm thoughts, and a lot of heavy lifting for us. For you, I’m sure it’s no different. We all want to do what we can to ensure our family, friends and loved ones know how much we appreciate them. For some that means getting the perfect gift; and for others it’s all about family get togethers, sharing a meal, a card or a kind word. With the holiday season starting to pick up it’s not always easy to find time to buy the gifts, bake cookies,  and sign all the cards for the ones you love while also managing various other tasks such as cleaning the house, working at your job, taking care of your children, and so on.

If you’re trying to find a gift for someone, this is the time of year when things can get extra stressful. The malls are packed with people, the days seem shorter and patience starts to wear thin. This could be why each year more and more people turn to online shopping to help ease the stress of going to the crowded shopping malls and hopefully save some time.

If you’re one of those people who are interested in online shopping options, I’m here to share some good news with you! Now not only can you shop at home in the comfort of your pajamas, but you can also do your part to pitch in and make a donation to the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto or other charitable organizations while you shop. In order to make this happen, you need to visit this website to complete your online shopping. Here you’ll be able to buy anything from theatre tickets to sporting equipment to jewelry to dinnerware and so much more!  There’s something for everyone! Then each company will donate up to 50 percent of the purchase price to a charity.

However if online shopping is not your cup of tea, or you want to help out people locally, please keep in mind that there are many other ways to help those in need. You can volunteer your time or donate food, clothing, baby items, bus tickets, or money.  We have shared many tips and suggestions so far and you can find them all here.

Some of the most needed food items are being highlighted at various Loblaw chain grocery stores throughout the region such as Valu-Mart, Zehrs, No Frills, or the Real Canadian Superstore. You may have seen this image near some food products in your local grocery store:

This image is to help promote their annual “Extra Helpings Holiday food drive” program, which kicked off November 25th. Each time the event runs these stores are hoping to collect enough food and monetary donations to help fill local food bank shelves for the season. Any donations are appreciated, but please try to pick the same healthy food options that you would choose for your own family. But this in store promotion will be ending very soon!  The last day is tomorrow: December 15!  Can you still donate after the 15th though?  Of course, as usual, there will be a bin by the check out that you can drop food items off in. However the helpful signs probably won’t be there to help guide you.

Regardless of the way you choose to help out this holiday season, each action makes a tremendous impact to the work of a charitable organization and for the people in need of some extra help right now. Hunger doesn’t take a holiday and neither does the need for donations all year round. Even one can of soup can make a difference – it will be someones lunch or dinner – and a very tangible gift that you can make to someone during the month of December.

What are you doing to help pitch in?  Let us know on twitter and Facebook.  Did you donate a can of soup at your local grocery store?  Talk about it, tweet it, blog it!  Your actions will encourage others, and help make someones day while they struggle with hard times.

The ART of Caring

November 12, 2011

On Friday evening local art show & sale, BOX11, hosted a Curator’s Reception.  This year, the Guest Curator is Jim Erb, who also Chairs the Kitchener Conestoga Rotary Club’s annual Turkey Drive in support of House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper program.  

Like HOF’s year-round Emergency Food Hamper program, Christmas Hampers aims to share the gift of food with families in need, but this program is specifically for December when holiday lay-offs and the pressures and expectations of the season can break an already stretched budget.

The Turkey Drive is the official Charity Partner of BOX11.  A portion of the proceeds from art sales will help bring the gift of food to families across our community.  As the Guest Curator, Jim had the opportunity to share some comments. 

Through my work and community involvement I attend a fair number of events and hear probably far too many speeches, but Jim’s words caught my attention.  In the Rumpel Felt Factory amidst the art, chatter and food, Jim stood in front of us all and  reminded us:

This weekend is also about acknowledging that there are too many people in our community who will probably never be invited to a reception such as this. For many of us, tonight begins the “season of Christmas parties”.  For many others in our community, there will be no invitation to a multitude of Christmas parties.  Over the weekend, the generosity and resources of people like you and me will be able to purchase this beautiful artwork for our homes and offices. For many in our community, the little money they have will not be for art, but for basic food for their family.

Food for thougt no doubt for the coming Holidays.

There’s something missing

October 4, 2011

Every time you go to the grocery store there is an abundance of possibilities that you can take home. But unfortunately for over 20 000 people throughout the year their grocery trips are limited, because they’re accessing a food bank.

Food banks generally operate almost exclusively on donations – donations of time, money and food. As a result, it’s not uncommon for programs such as ours to experience a few weeks or months without certain food items such as canned soup, cereal, rice, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned meat, or canned beans. At the moment, three very significant products are on the top ten lists of most needed food donations. Any idea what they are? If not, click here to find the answer.

Unfortunately three of our four protein products are on the top of the list: canned meat and fish, peanut butter, and canned beans. This has dramatic implications on the overall nutrition of our hamper; and also how many meals patrons can make out of the food we have to offer. You may remember how important food items like canned meat are to our patrons; but if not click here.

Luckily the Food Bank of Waterloo Region has been getting in higher amounts of frozen meat products. This means that our program has been able to slightly increase our quotas since the beginning of August. Here’s an idea of how our quotas have changed:

Family Size

Previous Meat Quotas

Current Meat Quotas

One person

500 g

750 g

Two people

1 kg

1.5 kg

Three people

1.5 kg

2 kg

Four people

2 kg

2.5 kg

Though it’s a minimal amount, it has an impressive impact. For example single people generally got one choice of meat such as a bag of sausages or a few chicken breasts in the past. Now a single person meat pre-pack will include two choices of meat products or a larger chunk of meat. But let’s look at the nutritional implications of raising our meat quotas:

Family Size

Increases of servings

One person

2 servings (1 day)

Two people

4 servings (1 day)

Three people

4 servings (almost 1 day)

Four people

4 servings (half a day)

To read more about meat and alternative nutrition, please visit Canada’s Food Guide.

For many people more frozen meat in their food hamper is a welcome change! One of the things that we learned through the work of Jesse and Leah, our two summer students, is that many patrons would purchase more meat or seafood products if they had more money available. However, because of the increasing costs of fresh or frozen meat products, many individuals often use lentils or canned meat as the best alternative to still get protein in their diet.

But with our supplies running out and many people not having the flexibility in their budget to buy a can of beans, a jar of peanut butter, or a can of meat, what do they do? Sadly it often means that many people will be without that food group in their diet for a few days.

Going without canned beans or canned meat and fish has a smaller nutritional impact on our hampers, but it does interfere with meal planning. Now instead of many people being able to throw one of these choices into a casserole, they’re left scrambling to find another alternative to get meat in their diet and complete their meal. Both a can of beans and a can of meat or fish contain approximately a full days worth of meat nutrition for a single person. It’s easy to see how quickly the nutrition of a hamper can diminish without these necessary staples.

Not having peanut butter available also decreases a hampers ability to provide a good level of nutrition for meat and alternatives. It takes two tablespoons of peanut butter to provide one serving of meat and alternatives. For a single person who likely needs approximately two servings of meat for the entire day, a 500 gram jar provides about seven days worth of protein. Larger families typically receive a one kilogram jar of peanut butter. To break this down it means that two person hampers lose approximately seven days of protein; three person hampers lose approximately four and a half days of protein, and four person hampers miss out on approximately three days of protein. Without this staple food, many people are left without anything to eat on a sandwich for lunch or to spread on some celery for an afternoon snack. Click here to read about the significance of peanut butter to our patrons.

What do you eat for lunch each day?  Imagine opening your bag lunch and only having two slices of bread with some mustard and lettuce between them.

You can change this though! Please keep these food items, and any other that you typically enjoy in mind during the fall food drive. Each donation makes a meal and brightens someone’s day – sometimes more than you can imagine. Whether it’s a box of cereal or crackers, a can of pasta sauce, or a drinking box it’ll make someone’s life one measure easier. Each food item they receive is  one step closer to a healthier diet, or one less explanation to a child for why it’s not on their dinner plate. And as our recent blogs show, not having food is only one of the many situations that our patrons are encountering throughout their day.

A big kick off to the fall

September 26, 2011

Have you seen this poster recently? What about the donation bins located near the check-out at many grocery stores within the region? Well this is the time of year when they are extremely important to places like the House of Friendship because the Food Bank of Waterloo Region will soon kick off their annual Fall Food Drive!

Yes it’s that time of year again. Though the Food Bank is fortunate to collect many donations each week from local grocery stores, the big shelves at their warehouse are getting empty. Just last Wednesday, my co-worker Raymond was touring their warehouse and mentioned that there were starting to be more empty spaces than full. As a result the Fall Food Drive is kicking off on October 3rd, and running until October 16th. At this time of year programs like ours hope that enough food will be collected to cover the demands placed on the Food Bank over the coming months. How much food is needed? What are we hoping to see? Click here to see the top ten most needed items.

How can you help? Over the coming weeks the Food Bank will be participating in a variety of events that you can have fun attending and help out by donating a few non-perishable products. Please visit their website for more information, but here’s a brief overview to help you mark your calendar:

All of these events are always a lot of fun, and they are a great way to help the Food Bank and our  regional friends (Cambridge Self Help, Woolwich Community Services, Wilmot Family Resource Centre) reach their 375 000 pound target goal for donations. Bringing even one can of food or bag of pasta or rice to each event means you are helping to put a meal together for over 25 500 people who will receive food from food hamper programs in the coming year. From all of us at House of Friendship and the many other food banks throughout the region, thank you in advance for all your generous donations!

Right to Food

August 26, 2011

Most people will have heard of the United Nations.  Especially if you watch the news.  I’m not sure if as many people will have heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   Even fewer have probably heard of the Rome Declaration on Food Security and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

What are these documents and what do they mean?  In a perfect world they commit the countries that have signed them (which Canada has) to address the needs of their residents and ensure that their human rights are protected and promoted.

What are human rights?  That’s a big question.  I encourage you to read through the links above and try and get a handle on how important they are.  Ones that you may be familiar with are freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion.  These are the rights that we all enjoy in Canada every day. You enjoy them every day you open a newspaper, talk to your neighbours about politics and make choices on who to vote for and how you live your life.

Is food a human right?  It’s pretty hard to live your life without food.  Of all the human rights, food is one of biggest and most important.  It is difficult to enjoy your other rights if you’re starving.

If you read this blog, a newspaper or watch the news, you will probably realize that these documents are all great on paper, but in practice we’ve still got a long haul ahead of us as a Country and a global community. We say we’re committed to overcoming hunger, but yet there are still many people who go to bed hungry everyday: in this country and across the world.

The above picture is taken from one of the nineteen artists that contributed to the “Just Food” exhibit that is being displayed through the support and faith inspired efforts of the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO). Some of you may be aware of this exhibit, since it’s been open since early July. But if you have yet to go, it’s not too late! The exhibit will be available until September 27 at Conrad Grebel University College anytime Monday to Friday between 9am to 7pm, or through alternative arrangements. (Click here for a map to the college.)

The inspiration for this event is to encourage people to remember that though we’ve stated hunger is not acceptable in many formal documents, we’ve still got a long way to go to make this a reality.

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.” – Article 25 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Food is a central part of our lives: it’s part of survival and it’s also something that is often prepared to bring people together in celebration. Though as human beings we need to eat to survive, in today’s society we’re not always guaranteed access to affordable and nutritious food for various reasons.

Food banks are living proof of this: once a temporary solution to overcome (what was thought to be) a short-term problem, many of these programs need to expand their warehouses to keep up with the demands of service that they face each week, day and year. Things have yet to get better as many Canadians continue to struggle to meet their daily needs, or encounter unexpected circumstances that throw their life and finances for a loop.

To give you a better idea as to how high our numbers have been, and show some of the factors that may be contributing to high demands for food assistance, lets look at some of the statistics about food banks.

  • In the last twenty years our program hasn’t served under 20 000 hampers each year.
  • Each year our program assists approximately 9 500 households with food. (And we only cover Kitchener-Waterloo. To see a list with some of the Cambridge food assistance programs, click here.)
  • We are one of over 70 member agencies of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, which means that there are a lot of agencies responding to the communities need for food assistance.
  • Approximately half the households who we provided food to last year relied on Ontario works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) as a source of income. People working full-time, part-time, or odd jobs followed as the next highest group at approximately 16 percent.

So hopefully you can take a break to visit the hunger exhibit. Because as it’s recently been said, and will be said again, hunger and food banks are something that need to come to an end. (To read an article about closing food banks, click here.) Your effort to become more educated is one of the first steps to making this happen; and this event is a fun way to take that first step.

In the coming weeks we will share a few more of the stories of the people who have turned to us for a helping hand. In the meantime, enjoy the food for thought at Conrad Grebel.

Food connects us all

July 15, 2011

Are you a student interested in food (in)security planning on continuing/ beginning post secondary  schooling in the fall?  Well, if you are, you only have about two weeks to register for the 2011 National Student Food Summit.

It is being held at the University of Toronto and will feature keynotes from the United Nations World Food Programme, Campbell Company of Canada and a recent McGill University graduate who orchestrated the McGill food systems project.

So sign up and join your  peers in creating a blueprint for change.

It is organized by Meal Exchange which is a great organization that works to educate people and work to address the problem of hunger.  The Summit will be held this coming  August 5 to 7 and you can find out more by following this link here and by watching this video:

If you go we’d love to hear how it went and what you learned!