Charity met With Overwhelming Community Support After Loss of Hundreds of Thanksgiving Meals for Local Seniors

Just before the October long weekend, we shared details of the unfortunate theft of a bike packed with hundreds of Thanksgiving meals for local seniors. While we were able to recover the bike from the bottom of a Stanley Park ravine later that day, we unfortunately lost hundreds of turkey dinners destined for vulnerable West End seniors.

The story was amplified by news outlets over the weekend and we started to receive offers of support by midnight on Friday.

Strangers from across the City and across the country, horrified by what they had seen, started pitching in in any ways they could. Some offered to drop off frozen turkeys. Others offered to cook a few additional servings with their own Thanksgiving dinners and drop off the extra meals. Our immediate neighbours offered to help deliver, and we even received offers of a cash donation from a small business in St. James, Ontario, wanting to help out in any way that they could.

One East Vancouver gentleman even offered to take his motorcycle down to a grocery store of our choice and help out with grocery shopping – he said the motorbike would be no good for delivering meals but he could balance bags of groceries on the back pretty well!

Buoyed by the community support, Chef Amanda and Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski went down to the Gordon Neighbourhood House kitchen over the weekend, put on their aprons and roasted six additional turkeys to replace the missing meals. The meals were packed with mashed potatoes, roast veg with extra butter, and lots of gravy. They were sent out for delivery on another electric bike and thankfully made it to our seniors in time for their dinner.

“We extend our utmost, heartfelt gratitude to those who helped amplify the message and those who reached out in support,” said Siobhan Powlowski, Executive Director. “We will be putting any proceeds toward the Christmas packages and meals that we intend to deliver this year to those in isolation. This winter will be difficult for so many of us, and we hope that this situation can serve as a reminder that we will get through by taking care of each other.”

“This Thanksgiving, we celebrated apart for the first time in memory. But here at Gordon House, we have never felt so connected and so cared for by our community as we have this weekend. While one person may have sought fit to take the bike, the vast majority of people around us have responded with overwhelming generosity and kindness. This, collectively, is who we are – we take care of our seniors and those less fortunate than us.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House is aiming to deliver 5,000 nutritious meals by the end of the year. If you would like to support this initiative, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org.


VOTE – general election Oct 24th 2020

Canada has three levels of Government:

  • 1.MUNICIPAL – Vancouver City
  • 2.PROVINCIAL – British Columbia
  • 3.FEDERAL – Canada

Saturday October 24th 2020 there will be a general election in British Columbia to elect the Provincial Government. You have the right to vote if you are a Canadian citizen who has been in BC for the last 6 months and is at least 18 years old. (permanent residents cannot vote).

Elections BC is a good source of information on how to join the register of electors, where to go to vote, how to vote by mail, voting safely during COVID, and more.

PLEASE NOTE: Gordon House will not be used as a polling station this year due to current public health measures. Check you polling card for your polling station!

The Guide to the Elections Act is a good resource for questions on voting in BC this pandemic.

The Provincial Government are responsible for the following areas:

Candidates Vancouver-West End:

At the beginning of October 2020 we asked West Enders to participate in a survey to ascertain what issues are most important to the community at this time. We used these survey responses to create questions for the candidates. Links to their answers are above.

These were the findings of the survey:

Housing & Homelessness

88% of survey respondents are worried about housing with 44% placing it as their number one concern. Many stated that access to affordable housing was out of reach for those with lower paid jobs and asked for “housing co-ops accessible to any range of salaries” and mentioned fears of “rent increases” and “chronic lack of housing”. 64% of survey respondents expressed concerns around a visible increase of homelessness in the West End and a need for supports.

COVID Response

64% of survey respondents are worried about the impacts of this pandemic, with 25% of respondents placing COVID-19 as their number one concern, mentioning “people not taking it seriously enough” the rise in “anti-mask conspiracy” and the fears of “COVID in the schools”.

Environmental Sustainability

Many respondents mentioned concerns on climate change such as “will my community be in a good place to help each other through its impacts”. Respondents asked to use “Indigenous ways of thinking to lead society” and called for “strong regulations to curb the effects of climate change and stand up for Indigenous rights”.

Healthcare

Respondents expressed a strong interest in in increased healthcare supports for our community as we face this pandemic. This included free mental health services “if you’re not well you can’t handle any of the other issues” and supports such as a “safe drug supply” for those using illicit substances which come with a high risk of overdose.

Feeling Safe

One common thread throughout the survey responses was uncertainty about the future and wanting to feel safe. On top of the issues mentioned above, respondents fears ranged from “hate groups marching through the West End” and “racism & intolerance” to uneasiness about “local crimes and vandalism”. Respondents also noted the high cost of living in the neighbourhood and worries about maintaining their jobs and affording food & childcare.


Gordon Neighbourhood House 2020 Annual General Meeting

Syexwaliya of Squamish Nation performing a blanketing ceremony, and
honouring James Kim for six years of service on the Community Advisory Board.


Gordon Neighbourhood House has served as a community hub in Vancouver’s West End since 1942, and has a lengthy history of working alongside our neighbours, members, and partner organizations to facilitate connection, engagement and collaboration, while seizing opportunities for community development.

We invite all Gordon Neighbourhood House Members to join us for our Annual General Meeting to be held virtually through Zoom on Monday, October 19th, 2020 at 6:00pm PST.

Registration will be required to participate. More details will be announced closer to the date.

For more information and accessibility details, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org, or call (604) 683-2554.

Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) is a proud Member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of British Columbia (ANHBC)

The Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC (ANHBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that delivers community-based social services and focusses on the development of strong neighbourhoods. ANHBC operates seven neighbourhood houses and one outdoor camp in Metro Vancouver.

Society number: S-0000036
Charitable number: 10673 2969 RR0001
Business number: 106732969BC0001


Gordon Neighbourhood House COVID-19 Update

Bees and Sunflowers in Front of Gordon Neighbourhood House, July 2020.


To our friends, volunteers, members, neighbours, and partners:

It’s been a while since we last connected, and it’s good to take this opportunity to bring you up to speed with what has been happening around Gordon Neighbourhood House. Like the rest of the world, we have been shifting, changing and adapting to this new world – and looking for innovative new ways to bring people together.

On March 17th we made a difficult decision to close to the public, citing rising case counts in our neighbourhood. Little did we know at that time about the difficult road that would lie ahead. Like you, we bundled up at home and began learning about the new concepts that would define our lives – social distancing, cough etiquette, flattening the curve, and more.

But while our doors closed, the work never stopped – and I am proud to highlight the hard work of Gordon House staff during the first months of COVID-19. Staff made calls to over 300 members, and in some cases called regularly for weeks. We provided referrals and support to the folks that needed it; we ran socially distanced tax clinics for hundreds of older adults in our neighbourhood; and we began providing online family programs, language classes, yoga classes and more. We distributed over $60,000 in grocery store gift cards (with an average amount of about $150.00), $10,000 in Farmers Market coupons, and we re-opened our community farms. And, as soon as we got the green light from Vancouver Coastal Health, we began distributing meals to seniors and families in need. And I am proud to announce that as of this week, we have distributed over 2500 meals during COVID-19!

This summer, we began running in-person programming again in the parks and plazas of the West End. These socially distanced, masked-up, six-person gatherings have been a great chance for us all of us to build confidence being in community again – and it has been wonderful to see you again.

As we look to the fall, I think we are all a little uncertain about what is to come. Our Management team is making contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted service regardless of what happens with COVID-19. Here is a little bit of what you can expect – and of course, like everything during COVID-19, these plans are subject to change!

· In the event of a lockdown: Social programs move online and staff will check in with members regularly. Meals will continue via delivery; childcare will remain open unless otherwise directed.

· In the event of local community transmission, but no lockdown: Social programs will be provided online or outdoors. In the event of inclement weather, we are seeking to provide seniors programs indoors with strict safety protocols in place. If all goes as planned, we will look at opening Family Place indoors. Meals will continue via delivery and childcare will remain open.

Unfortunately, we are not able to re-open the Attic Thrift Store for the foreseeable future or re-open our facility to the general public. We will be sure to update our members once this changes.

This brings me to my final point – we need your help. With the loss of revenue from both Thrift Stores and our lunch program, and a decline in donations, we need your help. We are currently receiving 1/1500th of the community financial support that existed pre-COVID-19. The best way to give is by signing up to become a monthly donor. You can sign up at the following link.


30th September is Orange Shirt Day – Every Child Matters

This week at our staff team meeting we were fortunate to welcome Eddy Charlie and Kristin Spray. This was an opportunity for our team to learn more about Orange Shirt Day, the destructive impact that the residential schools system had on Indigenous communities, and the work that Eddy and Kirstin are doing to further awareness and promote healing.

“I want to release what is inside of me. All that fear. All that anger. All that pain. I want all of Canada to know why we are the way we are today.” – Eddy Charlie

We strongly encourage all of our community to take part in this movement by educating themselves on the violent history of these institutions, listening to the stories of survivors, and wearing an orange shirt on September 30th.

Accounts of survivors are valuable records as many children did not make it home from residential schools and many survivors have since passed away. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is an important resource as it permanently holds the collection of resources produced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission itself.

Due to errors made while collecting survivors stories The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the survivors accounts that they collected during the compensation process will be destroyed by 2027 except in cases where a survivor comes forward to ask for their records to be preserved.

The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation is ensuring that there will continue to be a body of records.

We are so grateful for the generosity that Eddy has shown to us in sharing his story and experiences so that we can sit with the truth.


1,500 Meals Delivered!

To combat hunger in our community, we have partnered with the West End Seniors Network and United Way to cook and deliver meals to isolated seniors and families during COVID-19. This week marks our 1,500th meal delivery! Our dedicated chef Amanda has been busy cooking delicious and nutritious meals with coordination support from Linda, Jessy, Jenn, and Doris. The balanced menus are developed with love and care, and then delivered using sustainable bicycle couriers. Past meals have included: Tuscan chicken pasta; garlic chicken and vegetables with rice; Salmon and Dill creamy gratin; and a Coconut vegetable bowl with lentils. United Way of the Lower Mainland is partnering with Gordon Neighbourhood House so that everyone has access to the food they need right in their neighbourhood.

Through partnerships with local organizations, the United Way Local Love Food Hub and Better at Home program provide groceries, food hampers, prepared meals, and other essential goods at no cost to people in the community who are facing food insecurity, during this very challenging time. For more information about this program, contact Jenn Mason at (604) 683-2554 ext. 204 or jenn@gordonhouse.org


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

Anti-Racism Resources

Absolutely Fabulous 2017: Gordon Neighbourhood House with co-hosts Black Lives Matter

Earlier this week Gordon Neighbourhood House along with the Association of Neighbourhood Houses released a public statement acknowledging the reality of anti-black racism in our community.

As an organization we are committed to promoting an anti-racist society and we are sharing these resources so that our community can have a better understanding of why we have made this commitment and learn how to join us.

Today there will be a Freedom from Hate march in our neighbourhood starting at 4pm in Jack Poole Plaza and ending at Sunset Beach where there will be speakers. Please remember to bring your mask.

HOGAN’S ALLEY

Learn more about the loss of Hogan’s Alley and the work being done by the Hogan’s Alley Society.

Circa 1948 is an augmented reality app that allows you to take a virtual tour of the now destroyed Hogan’s Alley.

This interactive map Black Strathcona celebrates some of the interesting people and places that made up the neighbourhood.

The Vancouver Public Library has access to copies of the work of Vancouver born poet Wayde Compton and you can find an interview with him here.

This video explores what life was like in Hogan’s Alley before its destruction, as well as highlighting the community activism that took place to prevent further displacement of people from nearby Chinatown.

LEARNING

Woke or Whateva is a bilingual podcast based out of Montreal, you can find their Instagram account here.

The Conscious Kid and The Great Unlearn are two Instagram accounts that you can follow to challenge your thought process and hold yourself accountable.

This document Anti Black Racism in so called ‘Canada has a large collection of Canadian specific resources for self-education.

Check out this report Towards a Healthy City – Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Vancouver.

Black Lives Matter Canada can be found here and you can follow this link to read the Vancouver Black Lives Matter Calls on the City to Dismantle Systems of Violence and Oppression.

This link take you to a two hour Youtube Webinar titled Resistance and Resurgence: Confronting Anti-Black Racism in Canada.

Diverse Book Finder is a website designed to help parents source books that feature Black and Indigenous people and People of Colour.

Raising Little Allies To Be might be of interest to some parents.

Indigenous Peoples Day is this Sunday June 21st. This article highlights some of the ways that you can celebrate virtually through podcasts, movies, sports, humor, and museums.

The Vancouver Public Library has resources for learning about Indigenous people here.

SPENDING

Massy Books is an Indigenous owned book store in Downtown Vancouver.

Afro Biz is a website that can help you to find Vancouver’s Black owned businesses, Black owned restaurants, Black artists, and more.

DONATING

The Write to Read project delivers books, libraries, tablets, and high speed internet to remote Indigenous communities in BC.

Vancouver Black Therapy and Advocacy Fund is raising money to support the mental health needs of our Black community members.

Black in B.C. Community Support Fund for COVID-19 is a fundraiser for a low-barrier, emergency, micro-grant program to support those experiencing financial hardship at this time.