Virtual Art Class Connects Strangers

For over 20 years, the Neighbourhood Small Grants program has brought people together and made communities more resilient. The grassroots initiative provides grants up to $500 to fund small projects that connect neighbours, share skills, celebrate diversity, and foster a stronger sense of belonging. This year however, as the seriousness of COVID-19 became more clear, the feasibility of hosting the much-loved program came into question. Equally troubling, public health orders to physically distance from others has had the unintended impact of creating more social isolation and disconnection.

Rather than cancel the grants, the Vancouver Foundation (which funds the program) boldly decided to create a new granting stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants to support virtual projects with no physical gathering component.

One such project was Art for Heart project led by Geetanjali Joshi. Geetanjali recently moved to Vancouver in December of 2019. Prior to arriving in Canada, Geetanjali lived in India and had only left the country twice to visit the United States on a cultural exchange program. The Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants program provided Geetanjali “with the opportunity to serve my new home and its people.”

Professionally trained as a teacher and a lifelong artist, Geetanjali applied to host an online art class. “I live alone in Vancouver and am eager to connect with other people who might be alone and are in need of support and mental escape in this tough time,” she explained, “I find art to be therapeutic, and want to share it.”

A committee of neighbours reviewed her application, and awarded her $500 in funding. Geetanjali then advertised the project on a facebook community page. Eight West End neighbours quickly signed up, and she arranged to have art supplies safely distributed to all participants.

Over Zoom video chat sessions the participants bonded and painted together. “It was a wonderful experience connecting with them and doing some amazing art,” she remarked. “We had three zoom sessions on three Sundays. What started out as 8 strangers who are now friends and fellow artists. it was a great experience for all.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the Neighbourhood Small Grants program for all residents on the downtown peninsula. Learn more about program and Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants online. For more information, email jim@gordonhouse.org.


Gordon Neighbourhood House Distributes $60,000 in Emergency Food Aid in the Wake of COVID-19

Good Food Access Fund Grant will help neighbours improve food security.

Vancouver, BC, July 24th, 2020—Gordon Neighbourhood House is pleased to announce it has received a grant of $60,000 from Community Food Centres Canada’s Good Food Access Fund. The grant will enable Gordon Neighbourhood House to support hundreds of neighbours in need so they can access nutritious food during these challenging times. Funding is provided in part by the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, as part of the Food Policy for Canada. The Fund aims to strengthen food systems and facilitate access to safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations. Gordon Neighbourhood House staff identified gaps in existing COVID-19 emergency programs, and distributed grocery store gift cards directly to West End families and neighbours.

“This is an outstanding initiative,” said Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski, “We’re very grateful to receive The Good Food Access Fund Grant, and amplify our food security work in the neighbourhood. As a result of this funding, hundreds of West End neighbours and families will be able to choose the food they need in a safe, and dignified way.”

“Food insecurity was already an urgent problem before the COVID-19 crisis, with one in 8 Canadians struggling to put food on the table. In a time of national crisis, it is in our nature as Canadians to do what we can for our most vulnerable neighbours. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for their quick response, as well as the many corporate partners and generous donors who have stepped forward” says Nick Saul, CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. “The Good Food Access Fund aims to make sure that as many people as possible will be able to get the food that they need. And while we must deal with the current circumstances, CFCC remains committed to advancing policy change that addresses the underlying causes of food insecurity and poverty in Canada. We can’t forget that structural inequity is at the core of so many of the challenges that Canadians face, a fact which painfully confronts us when an emergency like this occurs.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942. As a place-based community organization, we work alongside neighbours and partners to foster a dynamic and diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Learn more at gordonhouse.org, and follow us at @gordonnhouse on Instagram and @GordonNeighbourhoodHouse on Facebook.

Media Contact: Siobhan Powlowski, Executive Director; siobhan@gordonhouse.org or (604) 683-2554

Community Food Centres Canada Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) builds health, belonging and social justice in low-income communities through the power of food. We work with 13 Community Food Centres and 183 Good Food Organizations in 175 communities across Canada. Our Good Food Access Fund was established to provide emergency relief during this time of national crisis to our most vulnerable neighbours. Learn more at cfccanada.ca or follow @aplaceforfood.

Media contact: Juniper Locilento, Chief Development & Communications Officer; juniper@cfccanada.ca or (416) 576-2561


How to Wear and Make Face Masks

The advice of the World Health Organisation has been that when people wear a face mask in public places it helps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Check out this news article on the spread of misinformation by anti-masking groups.

There are many valid reasons why people may decide not to wear a face mask, but choosing to correctly wear a face covering on public transport and in the supermarket is an easy and important way that we can protect other people in our community who have compromised immune systems.

You can learn about the benefits of correctly wearing a face mask here you can learn the do’s and don’ts of face mask wearing here and you can learn the correct way to make and wear different styles of homemade masks here.

Last week we held a virtual Mask Making Workshop hosted by Robin who has a background of working in film production design. During lockdown Robin researched how to make masks that are comfortable, effective, and easy to wear. Robin used her skills to make masks and distribute them to friends & neighbours. Below is a recording of Robin’s workshop and her notes on how to make her designs and what measurements to use. It is possible to hand-sew Robin’s design if you do not have access to a sewing machine but it will take longer.

Mask Making Workshop

Join us for our mask making workshop!

Posted by Gordon Neighbourhood House on Thursday, July 23, 2020
Mask making tutorial

How to make face mask:

Adding a visor to your mask – useful for travelling