Posts Tagged ‘services’

Advocacy with purpose: ‘speaking up’ at the House of Friendship

September 4, 2012

As I talked about in a previous post, at House of Friendship we recently developed a new strategic plan, including a new mission, vision, and values. Of course, any strategic plan is useless if it gathers dust on someone’s shelf, never being read and updated. With that in mind, the next few posts I write will be looking at how our programs are living out and acting upon the new plan, or, in other words, how the plan is shaping House of Friendship programs.

Today I want to focus on a part of our new mission statement, which reads, “House of Friendship strengthens people and communities by being there when needed, speaking up and working together.” In particular, I want to look at how House of Friendship programs are ‘speaking up’ for, or with, program participants. To me, speaking up to affect social change is the definition of advocacy. Of course, this is broad; advocacy can be cultural (changing people’s minds or perceptions of a certain group or issue), or legislative (changing actual governmental policy).


A solution is only 3 numbers away

June 24, 2011

What do you do if you are concerned about how much alcohol you drink each night, and your inability to stop? Who do you call if you have an eviction notice tacked to your door? What if you just lost your job and are unsure of how you’re going to pay the bills that are piling up?

Take Jay, as a hypothetical example. Against the better advice of his family and school counselors he didn’t finish high school because he wanted to start providing for his girl friend and their new son. Since the birth of his son, he’s had a few casual jobs on construction sites, and some service jobs here and there. In general Jay has worked very hard to keep food on the table. But today, after a series of bad decisions and a good measure of bad luck, he’s a single parent of a toddler with no job, no money and an empty fridge. So what does he do? (more…)

Another Perspective on ‘Being Here’

June 22, 2011

A few weeks after I started this job, I met Maria.  She was part of a Guatemalan family that I registered. It was their first time to our program and they were accompanied by a support worker who spoke Spanish.

The husband and wife stared at me as I leafed through their paperwork— government issued for landed refugee claimants—and began to set up their file. They didn’t speak any English and were obviously uncomfortable with the entire process.  For the relatively small number of newcomer families that I deal with, this isn’t totally uncommon.  Many of them are using services like ours for the first time.  Sometimes there are cultural differences that make the whole experience a little overwhelming or stressful. I just assumed it was a new experience for them and carried on with the intake process, using their support worker as an interpreter.

“Do they have any food allergies or special diets?” I asked.

I wished I could speak Spanish so that I could better ease their worry and assure them we could help and were happy to do so.

“She is pregnant” the caseworker said.  “In fact, she is due next month. Would that make a difference?”

“OK.” I replied, “We’ll make a note of it.  Let her know that when the baby is here, we can give her some baby items as well, once a month.  In the meantime, we can put some extra things in the hamper that are appropriate for her.  Also, could you tell me their address?”

“Actually,” the caseworker replied, “they just arrived into the country a few hours ago – currently they are staying at a refugee shelter.” (more…)

A Night Out to Remember

April 27, 2011

Everyone has a lot of commitments throughout the day, so when it comes to dinner time it can be difficult to find enough energy to make a meal for you and/or your family. Eating out isn’t always an affordable option, but today it can be a charitable one!

Tonight you can choose to dine out and support the work of the Aids Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA). This organization has been in existence for approximately 25 years and responds to the needs of those who are affected by HIV/AIDS in various ways. Anyone can go for anonymous HIV testing, learn more about disease prevention, access the safe needle exchange program, and many other services.  You can check out the many services they provide by looking at their website here. (more…)

In praise of Potatoes!

February 18, 2011

Potatoes are one of the things on everyone’s mind at House of Friendship right now, since we’re in the midst of our annual Potato Blitz. During the various events throughout February House of Friendship hopes to collect enough potatoes or financial contributions to meet the needs of our various programs throughout the year.

So far Allison has covered some of the blitz events and how many potatoes they have collected,  but you may wonder, why are potatoes so important to House of Friendship?  The answer is simple: they are a chance for us to talk to someone about their neighbours who are less fortunate than they are.  Even if it is only for the short period of time it takes them to hand us a 10lb bag of delicious Yukon Gold potatoes, they have been able to put themselves in an other’s shoes, and find a way to help them. (more…)

Overview of the Lobby

November 9, 2010

Our lobby serves many different functions in a relatively small amount of space, when you consider how many people circulate through each day. Though most are here to pick up a hamper, some come to help a friend or family member by picking up their hamper, to look through clothing and other household items, to pick up bread and “extra” foods, or to gain some knowledge through the pamphlets and other information resources we have displayed. Whatever the reason is for people coming to our program we’ve definitely got lots to keep them occupied. (more…)

Profile on Mobility and Delivering Food Assistance

July 20, 2010

For about a year now this father has turned to our program for a little extra food assistance for himself and two teenage sons. Although one son has recently moved out, things aren’t getting any easier for his father. For a number of years he ran his own business,  but eventually maintaining his health began consuming all of his time. He’s had to let go of contracts and clients to find the time and energy for all his hospital visits and medical appointments, while his increasing weight loss leaves him reliant on a walker to help him travel almost any distance. The past few months he’s found himself unable to work at all, doing his best to manage his bills and expenses with his Ontario Works cheques. For the most part it’s been working out well; but as his prescription costs keep rising, money has been getting tight.  It’s a constant struggle to find extra money for transportation to his medical appointments and bus tickets for his sons to get to school. Considering all these factors,  it’s not hard to see why this father needs food assistance.


2010 Hunger Count Preview

April 29, 2010

March is a challenging time of year for Emergency Food Programs and food banks in general.  It tends to be one of the busier months in the year with supplies from the last food drive running low and lots of time and effort being expended getting the spring food drive off the ground.

It is also when the Hunger Count data is collected.  Each year the national association of food banks, Food Banks Canada works with regional food banks like the Food Bank of Waterloo Region (FBWR) to collect stats from all the member food banks and hamper programs so they can draft the Hunger Count. This is a comprehensive report on demand for emergency food assistance that is released each year. (more…)

A day in the life of a food hamper

April 5, 2010

Today is the fourth installment of our photo essay documenting our hampers and the people who receive them.

This will be a two-part post.  The photo and essay today, and then tomorrow, some additional information about diabetes and poverty.

Hunger and poverty are complicated and interrelated issues.  If you’re poor, you’re probably going to experience hunger to some degree, but not having enough money to make ends meet can mean more than just a hollow empty feeling in your stomach.  Being poor can have an impact on your health in the long-term.

One of many hampers distributed on November 9 2009

November 9 2009 – Single Senior

Today a 63-year-old, single woman, received emergency food from our program.  Her emergency food hamper was one of 124 we gave out for the day. This is not her first time; nor is it likely to be her last, since she has been accessing our program for the past 14 years. She receives Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD), which is a government form of financial assistance. She receives anywhere from $816.14 to $1,105.99 each month, which does not leave much money for food after paying monthly expenses.

This woman is also diabetic (type 1 and/or type 2), as are approximately five percent of all the people accessing emergency assistance at our program. Diabetes is a disease in which the body is not able to make or use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Therefore a diabetic must monitor the types and amounts of certain foods in their diet so their body is able to regulate their blood sugar. Accommodating special diets such as diabetes are a high priority in our emergency food program, since we hold the belief that everyone has the right to nutritious and appropriate food according to their needs.

Today this patron received food that should last her three to five days, and that is appropriate to her diabetic diet. When packing hampers like this our volunteers rely on feedback from the patron and on “special diet cards” that describe specific modifications or alternatives for each food item available. She was able to receive fresh fruit, vegetables, as well as 100% pure fruit juice because our program received a large shipment of 1.89L cartons of orange juice from Loblaws.

However the program continues to be low on essential food categories such as meat and dairy products. There is still no canned meat or peanut butter available today; and the only dairy item available for a single person is a 200mL cup of yogurt, which is barely enough for a snack. The lack of dairy in the case of this elderly woman is especially significant because she faces a higher risk of osteoporosis with a diet that is consistently low in calcium and vitamin D.  With the limited amounts of milk our program receives each week, it is common that single people and smaller households requesting milk will be unable to receive it from us.