Sun Nin Fai Lok! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Lunar New Year!
Many cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival. It is mainly based on a lunar calendar where the months are cycles of the moon and because of this, the dates of the holiday change slightly year to year. Sometimes the holiday is referred to as “Chinese New Year” but a number of Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year – including China, Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, Japan, and Mongolia. A few holiday traditions include eating long noodles (the key to a long life!), decorating your home with oranges (a symbol of good fortune), and gifting red envelopes (lai see) with small amounts of money! The lucky colours for this holiday are red and gold. Celebrations last several days and culminates to the Lantern Festival on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations – a night of colourful lanterns!
In the Chinese zodiac we are entering the year of the Metal Ox. To find out more about the Chinese zodiac and what your animal is Click Here!
In our Young Ideas program we held a virtual crafting demo during which we made lanterns and fans while discussing the different experiences participants have had celebrating the holiday in the past. The participants were joined by one of the Out of School care staff and kids to show the group the lantern making skills they had learned the day before! Participants learned that traditionally in Chinese culture fans were used as a way to showcase artwork. As well as receiving crafting materials ahead of the workshop participants also received red envelopes with candy inside. The food programming staff shared with the group some special holiday recipes and information on food and symbolism.
Over in our Seniors programming we held a special Lunar New Year virtual cooking demo where participants learned to make dumplings. Participants received all of the groceries they would need to cook along at home ahead of time! The group also learned about the symbolism of food during this holiday. Check out some pictures and the recipe used below.
Lastly, our Food programming staff incorporated Lunar New Year celebrations into our weekly meal deliveries to isolated seniors. This took the form of a special holiday meal – “Lunar New Year Celebration Bowl’ which contained traditional foods such as taro root and lotus root. Also included with the meal delivery was a recipe for Chow Mein, some information on food and symbolism, and a red envelope with chocolate coins. See below for pictures of the delicious special meal delivery, and the tasty Chow Mein recipe!
At Gordon Neighbourhood House we have a long history of running free language classes led by community volunteers. In the past these popular classes took place in person at Gordon House and were a great opportunity for community connection, skill sharing, and learning. Once the COVID-19 pandemic started we postponed these in-person programs for the safety of our community.
In June 2020 we began to host a weekly Spanish class again, but with the class taking place virtually via Zoom. This class is free to attend, and is led by a community volunteer. Over the last eight months the virtual Spanish class has become so popular with participants that we have added a second weekly class and split the group into ‘beginners’ and ‘intermediate’ classes.
One program participant had the following feedback on the virtual Spanish classes:
“I am extremely grateful to Gordon Neighbourhood House for providing me with the opportunity to learn Beginners’ Spanish in the comfort and safety of my own home and I cannot believe my good fortune in being able to take a weekly online class with Jessica. She is endlessly patient in answering our questions, provides us with an abundance of study materials, is always accessible through the group WhatsApp site, and continues to provide us with an excellent model of spoken Spanish so that we can practice correct pronunciation. Not only that, but Jessica is generous in sharing with us her Mexican culture which is a gift in itself. I also want to mention an unexpected bonus of the class, that of getting to know my lovely fellow-students! One year ago the thought of being stuck at home in semi-isolation seemed daunting, but the pandemic has brought us all kinds of opportunities that never would have come our way were it not for the restrictions imposed on us. They say that learning a language is one of life’s most rewarding activities. Thanks to Gordon House and to Jessica, I am discovering the benefits for myself!“
Intermediate/AdvanceSpanish – Wednesdays at 12 noon
BeginnerSpanish – Mondays at 10am
If you have language skills that you would like to share with the community then we are interested in supporting you to volunteer your time to teach classes and/or translate community resources. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Join Bob Molavi, Author of Pure Happiness – Awaken to Your Truth, who will inspire you to look at life and the challenges it presents in a more positive and fulfilling way. To register, please contact Stephanie at 604-683-2554 or email email@example.com
David Roche – Thursday February 11th at 1:30pm
David Roche is an inspirational humorist, keynote speaker and performer who has transformed the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights audiences around the world. With the publication of his first book, The Church of 80% Sincerity, he is also an author. To register, please contact Stephanie at 604-683-2554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Facing Bullying & Discrimination – Tuesday February 23rd at 1:30pm
Join Aleya Trott – Executive Director of West End Community Policing Centre to learn what to do when faced with bullying and discrimination. To register, please contact Stephanie at 604-683-2554 or email email@example.com
To brighten up Winter 2020 the Young Ideas group teamed up with Park People to create some outdoor holiday decorating resources for the community. Due to the COVID-19 public health guidelines the group had to be creative in how they brought people together outdoors.
This resulted in a series of blog posts and a free virtual crafting event to provide space for sharing knowledge and tips around decorating public parks and parklets in a wildlife friendly way.
This project aimed to encourage people to get outdoors into our shared spaces to celebrate the season while also raising awareness of some simple ways that we can incorporate environmental stewardship into our decorating.
The free virtual crafting event took place on December 14th with twenty people in attendance. Participants were provided with free craft bags so that they could join in crafting along at home. All the crafts were bio-degradable and some supplies could be safely used by birds as food or nesting materials. Crafts were demonstrated by members of the Young Ideas group and they included snowflake paper cutting, needle felting, willow star weaving, and pomander balls. The event was open to everyone and suitable for all ages and crafting abilities. Participants were able to converse with each other while they completed their crafts and many stayed to chat and craft for two hours.
One participant had the following feedback – “Thanks so much for the crafty zoom meeting! It was my first zoom meeting – the crafts were great and well explained. I really appreciate the time the women put into organizing all of it.”
After the workshop the participants were invited to bring their creations to a designated tree in the neighbourhood which was located in the parklet in front of Gordon House. Due to the public health guidelines the participants were not able to gather to decorate all at once, but by coming to decorate the tree at separate times the group was still able have the experience of decorating all together but in a safe and social distanced way.
Over the month of December the group also publicly posted some other easy and affordable crafts ideas to the Gordon House blog and social media accounts. These posts highlighted different ways of using natural and low cost materials and all community members were invited to join us in decorating the trees around the parklet.
Deanna Flinn is a multidisciplinary
artist who has called Vancouver home for 15 years, and currently lives in the
Several years ago she began experimenting with ‘continuous line’ drawings, which is when a pen or pencil stays in uninterrupted contact with the surface of the paper during the entire illustration process. In the spring of 2020 she received a $500 Neighbourhood Small Grant to create a continuous line mural with her neighbours.
Deanna started the project by approaching dozens of West End neighbours and encouraging them to draw a self-portrait using just one continuous line, and while their eyes were completely closed!
“This was the first time I wrote a grant and I got it! I started to collect the drawings in September, one by one I gathered them, there are 46 in total, 47 if you include mine,” said Flinn “It took a lot of planning to abide by the protocols for COVID.”
Originally she imaged the mural could be
completed at a large public gathering, however COVID-19 physical distancing
restrictions forced her to change her plans and meet with participants
“I had a vision we could do it in
the courtyard in front of Gordon House,” explained Flinn, “…with the
restrictions COVID presented I was still able to get the same reaction from the
participants, just on more of a one on one basis.” “…I think now more than ever
we need to find ways to connect, and people are getting very creative in
connecting at safe social distances and electronically. I wanted to show them
how they could connect using art too.”
Most participants were apprehensive at first, however any nervousness was usually quickly replaced with laughter.
“Everyone resisted at first, insisting they couldn’t draw, then they would try and giggle the whole time,” explained the artist.
Once she collected enough drawings, Deanna used a projector to enlarge and paint the portraits onto five large wooden panels.
“I had to sort which faces went
on which panels and how I would also include the name of the project ‘The
People in Your Neighbourhood’. It was a bit like putting together a puzzle.”
The whole painting process took place over many days in Deanna’s small, West End studio apartment.
“I don’t have a lot of furniture
so at each stage I was working with the panels I had to plan and schedule how
the day would go so I would have room to move around. I listened to a lot of
music while I was making this mural, it was a very cathartic experience for me.”
the mural panels inside was very different than what she originally imagined,
the project had some unintended positive results.
“I learned so much and I had such a good time, it helped me
connect with my art in a way I didn’t think I could and it helped me connect
with more people in my neighbourhood. I think it’s really important to
express ourselves, especially in times of isolation and upheaval and I really
hope the people who participated found that this helped them have a bit of fun
and showed them how they are a part of a community.”
The finished mural is composed of five panels that are just under 8 feet tall, and when combined are over 12 feet long. It is a beautiful piece, and charmingly depicts our community, which was Deanna’s goal for the project.
“People need to feel connected, we are social animals by nature
and I really wanted this project to provide that piece for people. Now they can
go and search out their face and see it swimming around with a bunch of others.
I also think it’s important to celebrate every member of our community, all
shapes and sizes from all corners of the earth. We are social beings and we
need authentic connection in our lives and I hope this mural gives the viewers
and participants that feeling of inclusivity.”
Deanna’s mural is currently on display at Gordon
Neighbourhood House in the heart of the West End at 1019 Broughton Street, and
will be up for the month of January 2020. More of Deanna’s work can be found on
her website www.freeadmission.ca and Instagram account @freeadmission.
This project was funded by the Responsive
Neighbourhood Small Grants program, which provides grants up to $500 to support
resident-led community projects. Gordon Neighbourhood House administers the
program for all residents on the downtown peninsula, and funding is generously provided
by Vancouver Foundation.
We are proud to announce that Gordon Neighbourhood House in collaboration with The West End Seniors Network has now prepared and delivered 5,000 nutritious meals during COVID-19!
This milestone has been made possible with financial support from the United Way’s Safe Seniors, Strong Communities (SSSC) program & Local Love Food Hub initiative.
Although the tree-lined streets and sandy beaches of the West End can leave the impression of an affluent neighbourhood, the West End has long struggled with food insecurity. The downtown neighbourhood has among the lowest median household incomes in the City, including a large population of seniors on fixed incomes, and single parent households.
“We all know how hard it is to get through an average day on an empty stomach,” said Siobhan Powlowski, Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director. “Imagine trying to get through a pandemic and economic crisis under the shadow of food insecurity. We have a responsibility to ensure every person in this neighbourhood has access to good food during this trying time, and I am deeply proud of our team’s hard work to put 5,000 nutritious, home-cooked meals on the table this year.”
The SSSC initiative is a joint effort between Gordon Neighbourhood House and the West End Seniors Network. While WESN coordinates the registration and enrollment process, GNH coordinates the meal preparation and delivery.
At the heart of the GNH kitchen is Community Chef Amanda Bacaleinick. Due to COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions, Amanda has often worked alone preparing the hundreds of meals. Her menu is extremely diverse, and examples of past meals have included: Blue Cheese Pasta, Coq au Vin, Peanut Stew, Chicken Jambalaya, and Creamy Salmon & Dill Gratin to name a few. All of the meals take into account the unique dietary restrictions and requirements of the elderly recipients, and the menu has even included special meals to celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas holidays.
After carefully ensuring the meals are cooked, cooled, and plated following strict food preparation guidelines in GNH’s kitchen, the frozen meals are then delivered in directly to community members via courier bike.
“It’s a labour of love,” said Chef Amanda, when asked about what the 5,000 meal milestone means to her. “This is my way of ensuring our community is cared for—through nutrition, color, and choice of good loving food.”
Many of the meals are being distributed to seniors at heightened risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—and for many, the food brings a welcome relief.
“My health is not so good, and so everything was a little scary in April,” said one anonymous participant. “Especially with the long queues and empty shelves in the stores. Now I have stocked up with new perishables and meals, I feel comforted that I can get through another tough time like that.”
“I am 88 and almost blind,” said another recipient. “Usually I would cook one large casserole a week, divide into portions and then eat the same meal for several days. With your meals I get variation and new eating experiences–it gives me something to look forward to.”
The delivery of 5,000 meals would not be possible without staff support from: Kari Kesslar (Response Hub Manager at WESN), Jenn Mason, Stephanie Woo, Jessy Scaria, Linda Minamimaye, and Joey Liu. If you would like to support Gordon Neighbourhood House or are interested in getting involved, please visit gordonhouse.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAM UPDATE: As of January 16th, 2021 we have now prepared and delivered 6,489 meals.
Faced with restrictions on in-person gatherings, West End neighbours celebrated Hanukkah in a new way this year, by connecting online to share songs, stories, and blessings.
Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is an annual eight-day holiday known as the Festival of Lights. During Hanukkah, people of Jewish faith celebrate a great miracle that occurred, and the religious freedom it now represents.
The virtual event was coordinated by Gordon Neighbourhood House and the Jewish Seniors Alliance, and was co-hosted by local residents Alycia Fridken and Charles Leibovitch. Gordon Neighbourhood installed a large outdoor Chanukiah (a nine-branched menorah for Hanukkah) for the occasion, and participants received a gift bag with candles, chocolate gelt coins, and a toy dreidel. Fridken is a member of the neighbourhood house’s Community Advisory Board, and providing visibility to the Jewish community was important to her.
For many participants, the virtual gathering was also important to keep traditions alive. Jacob Kojfman attended the event with his partner and daughter Emily who is in grade two at nearby Lord Roberts Elementary School.
“Coming from a bigger Jewish city like Toronto, it can feel lonely in Vancouver, especially when it is hard to find a sense of community,” said Kojfman. “There are more Jewish people in the West End than I expected, and kudos to Gordon Neighbourhood House for providing an opportunity to let families pass on and continue traditions.”
In addition to a candle lighting and live singing by Charles Leibovitch, the online gathering also provided a much appreciated opportunity to bond. Elaine Fridkin has lived in the West End for more than 15 years, and while she has attended many Hanukkah events in the past, this was the first one she has participated in online.
“Being a senior is very isolating. Being a Jewish person in a non-Jewish neighbourhood is even more isolating,” shared Fridkin at the event, “This is a wonderful way to connect with people during these difficult times.”
For other attendees, the event provided a welcoming space to learn more about Hanukkah and Jewish traditions for the first time. Mary Brooks attended because she wanted to find out more about her neighbour’s traditions and beliefs.
“I attended because I want to learn about other people’s cultures and traditions. It has been so long since I have connected with my neighbours,” remarked Brooks, “Because of COVID masks, I have only seen eyes for the last few months, it is fantastic to see full faces and joyful expressions.”
The event also highlighted a shared narrative between Jewish people and other minority groups, specifically the importance of sustaining the customs and culture of ancestors. In addition to an acknowledgement of the unceeded Indigenous land that the event took place on, co-host Fridkin, drew attention to the Government of Canada’s reprehensible laws which historically criminalized important Indigenous events such as potlatches with mandatory jail sentences. It was not until 1951 that the ban on potlatches was repealed allowing communities to legally restore their ancestors’ ways. Fridken also highlighted the comparable plight of the Queer and Trans communities, as the West End is an important hub for Western Canada’s 2SLGBTQ2+ community.
The event brought together many Jewish neighbours who hadn’t met each other before, and by the end of the evening many participants hoped that they would all be able to meet in person in 2021.
Every year Gordon Neighbourhood House convenes
members for our Annual General Meeting to discuss our outcomes from the
previous fiscal year, and provide updates on our plans for the next 12 months.
The Annual General Meeting is also when we elect our new Community Advisory
Board (CAB) Members. The CAB is an important decision-making body and steward
of our organization. All Community Advisory Board members are volunteers, and
they bring a wealth of experience and skills to their roles. Please welcome our
new Community Advisory Board!
Dan Watson moved to Vancouver early in 2015
and started volunteering with Gordon Neighbourhood
House shortly after. Dan was attracted to
GNH because of its role in building community in the West End and emphasis on
food-related programming. Dan currently acts as co-chair of the GNH board, as
representative to the ANHBC Board, and chairs the ANHBC Board’s Capital Assets
Committee. Dan has a master’s degree in urban planning and
works for a planning firm based in
downtown Vancouver on projects in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver
Island. Dan’s urban planning experience
has instilled in him an appreciation for the convergences between physical and
social elements of city building and he is always excited to contribute this
perspective to the work of Gordon Neighbourhood
Rashmi GC is a West
End resident trying to lead a sustainable way of life and take the
do-it-yourself/do-it-together approach to everything. She is actively involved
in many community building activities and is very passionate about her work.
She loves having healthy interactions with the people in the community. She
hosts workshops related to various topics to share her knowledge. She has a
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering, and worked for 10 years
as a Software Programmer while living in Bangalore, India. She is a certified
Master Recycler, is part of the Resident Advisory Committee of the
Neighbourhood Small Grants Program and sits on the boards of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and the
Vancouver Trees Project.
Mash Salehomoum has been volunteering with Gordon
Neighbourhood House’s Young Ideas team for the last two years. During this
time, she has helped organize and support several events in Jim Deva Plaza
and the Pumpkin Parade in Nelson Park. Mash’s two main areas of focus are community
development and environmental sustainability. She has an environmental
background with a BSc in Ecological Restoration and a Diploma of Technology in
Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation from BCIT. Currently, she works as a
Program Coordinator for Park People, a non-profit organization dedicated to
supporting communities in improving their local neighbourhood
parks. She has a passion for bringing nature and people together in
a way that is equitable and sustainable for future generations. In her
spare time, Mash enjoys hiking, playing board games, eating cheese,
Dale Lutes is a 74 year old retiree who has lived in the West End for 25 years. He is a member of the West End Seniors’ Network, QMunity, Gordon Neighbourhood House, the Vancouver Seniors’ Advisory Committee, the West End Community Response Committee and the West End Seniors’ Planning Table. He has worked in adult and youth mental health, corrections and community living in various positions in government and non-profits. His interests include outdoor spaces and places that are safe and accessible for all, older adult needs and issues, affordable housing, food security and child day care.
Rain Daniels is Anishinaabekwe, is a member of the Saugeen Nation in Ontario, and was born in QayQayt territory. She lives on unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territory. Rain’s work includes 15 years in service provision, followed by 20 years of contract work in community development and social justice for Indigenous People, with various organizations. Her most recent highlights include working for the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Indigenous Cultural Safety Program for 7 years as a Lead Facilitator, Trainer, and Mentor and facilitating in SFU’s Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement since 2012. With a Master’s degree in Adult Education, and decades of facilitation experience, Rain brings multiple skills, experience and analysis, to this crucial work.
Sonella Ramanaden is a Registered Dietitian and recent graduate
with a Bachelor’s of Science in Food, Health and Nutrition from the University
of British Columbia. She is currently working as a Clinical Dietitian at Surrey
Memorial Hospital and was previously a long-time volunteer at St. Paul’s
recently worked on a project with Gordon Neighborhood House unpacking the
complex impact that COVID-19 has had on food security in the West-End whilst
advocating for change. Sonella is passionate about public health,
nutrition and social justice and looks forward to joining the Board!
Susan Moore, MA, is a West End renter/resident and has
extensive experience working in the senior-serving not for profit sector. Prior
to moving into the not for profit sector, Susan worked in post secondary
education where she held senior management and director level positions
specializing in international recruitment and admissions. Currently, Susan is
the Director of Community Development and Resident Support with Brightside
Community Homes Foundation, one of Vancouver largest not-for-profit housing
Yasemin Yumurtaki is pleased to put forward her name for
consideration. Working in health
services as a counsellor, Yasemin is passionate about accessible and inclusive
mental services in particularly geared towards children and youth. She
previously completed a practicum at Gordon Neighbourhood House. On her free time, you can see Yasemin going
on walks in the West end, spending time with any dog she sees and playing
tennis. Yasemin is excited to be a part of the West end community and be a
voice in developing programs.
Join us at our
next Annual General Meeting on June 16th, 2021 at 5:30pm. For more
information, please email email@example.com.
If you are
interested in joining our Community Advisory Board, please email our Executive
Director Siobhan Powlowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every fall Gordon Neighbourhood House convenes members for our Annual General Meeting (AGM). The meeting is a great opportunity to reflect on all of the amazing outcomes we have achieved together, discuss plans for the months ahead, and elect a new Community Advisory Board (CAB). The AGM is also the final meeting for outgoing CAB members who have finished their terms with us.
This year five amazing Community
Advisory Board Members are finishing their terms: Co-Chair Kathryn Fitzgerald,
Micah Goldberg, Graham Ramsay, and Willie Ng.
Board service is one of the most complex volunteer roles at our organization, and these dedicated volunteers tirelessly gave their time and energy to fulfill the important role of prudent stewards of our organization.
In addition to monthly Board
meetings and sub-committee meetings, Board members participated at strategic
retreats, helped coordinate community initiatives, and attended many special
events. The 2019-2020 fiscal year was full of challenges, and our board
distinguished themselves by representing community interests, carefully
deliberating complex issues, and making difficult decisions.
Community Board is responsible for values-based leadership of the House. This
Board was responsible for stewarding our organization through numerous extenuating
circumstances, most notably the onset of COVID-19. We are grateful for their
principled, strategic and creative guidance and wish each departing member the
best in their new endeavors,” stated Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski.
Kathryn Fitzgerald has served on
the Community Advisory Board for several years, and most recently fulfilled the
role of Co-Chair with Dan Watson after previous Board Chair James Kim stepped
down in 2019 after many years of service. Kathryn is an active community
builder, and supported tremendous growth and change by all measures during her
time on the Board.
Micah Goldberg served on the CAB
for several years, and has supported many neighbourhood programs and initiatives.
During his time with us Micah hosted a community consultation for a proposed
parklet on Davie Street, and was instrumental along with other stakeholders in
planning a mayoral forum for the 2018 Vancouver municipal election. The event
attracted over 400 attendees at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, and was simulcast live on local TV networks.
Graham Ramsay served one term as Secretary on the CAB, and brought
a keen strategic eye to developing our sustainability plan. We wish him well in
his retirement in his tiny home on Gabriola Island.
Willie Ng and Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez both served one term on
the CAB. In addition to his Board role, Willie is a member of the Young Ideas
group at GNH, and was instrumental in piloting and planning many innovative art
and outdoor community events. Willie was tremendously creative and brought his artist’s eye to
all issues big and small presented to the board.
We wish to express our profound gratitude to all of the outgoing
Board Members for their service, and look forward to advancing our shared goals
in the years to come. If you are interested in joining the Community Advisory
Board, please email email@example.com.