One Million Masks for our Community

Gordon Neighbourhood House staff have distributed over 20,000 masks to local partner agencies and neighbours in need.

In the ongoing fight against COVID-19, masks and face coverings continue to be a vital tool to limit the spread of the infectious disease, and flatten the projected curve of people who might contract the coronavirus.

Province-wide health regulations now require face coverings on all city buses, public indoor spaces, and most businesses. An unfortunate outcome of this policy however, is that vulnerable groups who cannot afford masks have experienced reduced access to essential goods and services.

To address this dilemma, several agencies have collaborated in an effort to ensure that no one is faced with an accessibility issue when it comes to travel and community services.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is proud to join this initiative, and help distribute one million masks across the region.

The One Million Mask project was created when Translink and Deloitte partnered to address the need for masks for public transportation users. That conversation expanded to other organizations when province-wide mask policies were implemented inside all public spaces. The One Million Masks partnership now consists of: United Way, TransLink, Deloitte, OEC, YVR, BC Ferries, BCAA, SCI and BC Transit.

 “We are so grateful for all of the support we’ve received from United Way during the pandemic,” said Gordon Neighbourhood House Executive Director Siobhan Powlowski, “This mask initiative will be key to supporting the Neighborhood House continuing to safely support communities during this time.”

Gordon Neighbourhood House has already shared thousands of masks with partner agencies, members, and our neighbours.

For more information about the One Million Masks initiative, or if you require masks, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org or call our reception desk at (604) 683-2554.


Income Tax Clinic

Do you Have Questions About Your 2020 Tax Return?  

Tax season is quickly approaching, and Gordon Neighbourhood House is here to help! For over 20 years we have been able to provide free tax clinics through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP)

Our Tax Clinic runs from March to April 2021 and is available for low-income seniors and families in the community. In order to be eligible, individuals must have a modest income and a simple tax situation. Click HERE for more information.

All volunteers in our tax program are trained and registered with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP).  Every volunteer is required to brush up on their skills annually, so you can rest assured that your tax returns are in reliable hands.  

To ensure the safety of our volunteers and all participants, we will not be offering in-person tax clinics this year. Taxes will be done virtually

2021 Tax Clinic Process:

1.    Book a Tax Clinic appointment by calling or emailing the Gordon Neighbourhood House reception desk at (604) 683-2554 or welcome@gordonhouse.org

2.    Participants will receive an appointment when they can drop off the necessary documents to Gordon Neighbourhood House, you will have to show one piece of government-issued ID and complete an intake form.

3.    A Tax Clinic volunteer will review your financial documents and file your return electronically.

4.     Gordon Neighbourhood House staff will call and arrange for pick up.  You will be required to show one piece of government-issued ID.

If you are interested in participating in our tax clinic program, please contact us by phone at (604) 683-2554 or email us at welcome@gordonhouse.org. 


Nourish in the Kitchen with Stephanie!

As we pivoted our seniors programming to online, we welcomed a few new programs, including a cooking class with our TAPS program assistant, Stephanie.

Our classes take place every Monday at 2pm over Zoom. Following our Food Philosophy, we want to increase community capacity building by cooking culturally-diverse meals and increasing food literacy. Stephanie cooks plant-based meals as they reduce our greenhouse gases impact on the environment but encourages the seniors to customize and add in any extra proteins or other foods that they would like and have the ability to do so. The seniors are able to learn new skills and cook alongside while asking questions or simply just watch as a cooking show!

Here’s our menu of recipes we’ve cooked so far:

  • Sweet potato, carrot and ginger soup
  • Salad rolls with peanut sauce
  • Thai red curry
  • Aloo gobi
  • Falafel with fresh pita
  • Daal with spinach and roti
  • Moroccan-styled stew with sweet potato & cauliflower
  • Gado Gado (Indonesian salad with peanut sauce)
  • Tom Kha Gai soup (Thai coconut soup)
  • Chinese Dumplings
  • Pad Thai

Enjoy (and try not to get too hungry!) meal pictures from our participants:


Black History Month in Canada

The month of February marks Black History Month here in Canada. Black History Month seeks to appreciate the significant impact Black Canadians have had on contributing to this nation’s prosperity. Black History Month is also an opportunity to recognize Black Canadians’ achievements and experiences, whose stories, unfortunately, were often absent from the mainstream history curriculum. 

This month is especially critical in 2021 as the world continues to witness the unjust treatment of members of the black community, not only in the U.S. but here on Canadian soil. We’ve observed how racism is rooted deeply in our justice systems and how it continues to perpetuate the discrimination of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour). At Gordon Neighbourhood House, we honour the positive contributions that Black Canadians continue to make in Canada and our community. We believe in the fair and respectful treatment of all community members regardless of race, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, ability, religion, ancestry, political affiliation, language, financial status, age, record of offenses, immigration, or family status. 

A Timeline of Black History Month in Canada 

The celebration of Black History Month in Canada was inspired by the legacy of Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, a well-respected Black author, historian, journalist, and the founder of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to spreading awareness of the Black American story, which played a critical role in American history but was often disregarded to pave the way for a colonial narrative. Dr. Woodson, known as the “Father of Black History,” founded Negro History Week, the forerunner of what would eventually become Black History Month, which was declared a national observance in the United States in 1976. 

Stanley G. Grizzle, president of the Toronto division of the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, was credited with hosting the first-ever Negro History Week in Canada on February 13, 1950. This event was inspired by similar celebrations held by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in the United States. One of the key speakers at the event was a prominent female figure in Canadian history whose efforts were credited with being the first in uniting the African-Canadian community; her name was Kay Livingstone. Kay Livingstone was a dedicated social activist & organizer, broadcaster, and actor who established the Canadian Negro Women’s Association (CNWA), now known as the Congress of Black Women of Canada (CBWC). The CNWA would continue to organize Negro History Week events for years to come after the first official celebration in 1950.

After the success that the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) had in filing a petition in Ontario proclaiming February as Black History Month in 1993, Rosemary Sadlier, president of OBHS, proposed Black History Month be recognized across Canada. This idea was met with immense support from Parliament Secretary and Member of Parliament, Jean Augustine. Augustine was the first black woman elected to the House of Commons in 1993 and the first black woman to be appointed to cabinet. As an educator, Augustine noticed that curriculums rarely mentioned black contributions to Canadian history, which needed to change. Through their hard work, passion, and dedication, their proposal was approved by the House of Commons on December 14, 1995. The first declaration of Black History Month went into effect the following February. Although this was a significant success, it wasn’t until 2008 that Canada completed its parliamentary position on Black History Month on March 14, 2008, when the Senate officially recognized Black History Month. Senator Donald Oliver put forth this motion in February of 2008, the first black man in Canada to be elected to Senate. 


Sources:


February Seniors’ Programs

Gordon Neighbourhood House offers a wide variety of accessible programs and activities to help seniors get involved, remain connected, and stay active.

Our friendly staff work with seniors, providing opportunities to participate in programs, social events, health and wellness programs, and cultural activities.

Examples of Programs Include:
– Virtual Cooking Workshops
– Gentle Yoga and Meditation
– Online Seniors’ Lounge
– Chair Yoga
– Technology Tips and Tricks
– Online Qi Gong Classes
– Online Photo Club
– Virtual Tax Clinics
– Weekly Presentations With Guest Speakers

For more information about Seniors’ programs, please call Jessy at our reception desk at (604) 683-2554, or email welcome@gordonhouse.org.


Lunar New Year 2021

Festive red lanterns to decorate the front of Gordon House

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!

At Gordon House we celebrated this holiday throughout our programming. In our Out of School Care program the kids learned the story behind the holiday and made lanterns to decorate the building.

OSC kids crafting lanterns

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.

fan made during the workshop
lanterns made by OSC on display at Gordon House!

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.

Dumpling Recipe
Steaming Dumplings
Pan Frying Dumplings
Food & Symbolism

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!

Lunar New Year Celebration Bowl
Lunar New Year Celebration Bowl
Chow Mein Recipe
Seniors delivery – Lunar Bowl, recipe, red envelope, and Valentines card!

Spanish at Gordon House

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/Advance Spanish – Wednesdays at 12 noon

Beginner Spanish – Mondays at 10am

Register: welcome@gordonhouse.org

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 aileen@gordonhouse.org for more information.


Monthly Seniors’ Brochure

Gordon Neighbourhood House seniors’ program participants enjoy yoga in the park.

We have heard from several members that they would like to be able to download and print our monthly Seniors’ brochure at home.

In the future we will post the upcoming brochure with a complete list of programs. Stay tuned for our February 2021 calendar of activities.

Gordon House Monthly Talks in February

Bob Molavi – February 9 & 22 at 1:30pm

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 stephanie@gordonhouse.org

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 stephanie@gordonhouse.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 stephanie@gordonhouse.org


Wildlife Friendly Winter Decorating

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.

Links to crafting blog posts:

Everything Will Be Pine

Birdseed Ornaments

Honorable Harvest Teachings

Ode To An Orange

Woven Willow Star


New Mural Celebrates West End Neighbours

‘The People in Your Neighbourhood’ mural coordinated by local artist Deanna Flinn.

Deanna Flinn is a multidisciplinary artist who has called Vancouver home for 15 years, and currently lives in the West End.

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 individually.

“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.”

Photo of the mural panels in the artist’s West End apartment.

While painting 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.

For more information about the Neighbourhood Small Grants program, visit neighbourhoodsmallgrants.ca or email jim@gordonhouse.org.