Seniors ‘Friendly Phone Call’ Volunteers

We are looking for committed and understanding volunteers to assist with Friendly Phone Calls to seniors in our neighbourhood who may be experiencing isolation and loneliness, or who may have had their social life impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Experience with older adults is an asset but not a requirement for this position. This position will take place remotely, and volunteers will need to commit roughly between one and two hours per week. Training will be provided on how to conduct Friendly Phone Calls, and we will provide volunteers with a list of relevant resources in the neighbourhood.

For more information contact jenn@gordonhouse.org or fill out our volunteer application form.


Fall Programming 2020 – Update

This summer, we have been delighted to begin welcoming members back to Gordon House — albeit in small, masked-up, outdoor gatherings. We’ve missed you! And while you’ve been busy catching up in the plaza, our Management Team (Jessy, Linda, Isabel, Jim and Siobhan) has been working hard behind the scenes to plan for the fall.

We’ve developed plans for a variety of public health scenarios, and want to reassure you that we will provide continuous programming through the rainy season – no matter what happens with COVID-19. It just may look a little different than we are used to. For example, we are preparing to be able to quickly shift programs online if there is a significant and steady increase in local COVID-19 cases.

At present, we are working to open up select programming indoors, and we wanted to provide a little snapshot of what this will look like. Here is some of what you can expect this fall:

  1. Childcare will open indoors on September 10th. We are adding additional staff, limiting numbers of children and following a robust safety plan to ensure the safe operation of the program.
  2. Seniors Programming will be the next to move indoors, with a goal to be in operation by November 1st, 2020. A thorough and rigorous safety plan is being developed in consultation with health authorities. This plan will be available to seniors in advance of our opening date. At the recommendation of our health authorities, we are not planning to resume in-person dining this fall. Some programming (e.g. zoom gatherings, phone check-ins, etc.) will remain online or outdoors for those uncomfortable attending indoors.
  3. Family Place will be the next to move indoors. A start date has not yet been determined. Some online Family Place programming (e.g. Facebook Live) will be maintained for those uncomfortable gathering in person.
  4. Counselling, language classes, outdoor education (e.g. farming, nature walks) and food programming will remain as-is over the winter – outdoors, online or by delivery.
  5. The Attic Thrift Store will only re-open once there is a significant containment of COVID-19. In the interim, we will be using the room for programming. Contrary to any rumors you may have heard in community, we are not closing the Attic Thrift Store permanently. (This is far too important of a program to us and to the community to consider closing!).

You can stay up to date on the latest programs by visiting our Facebook page, picking up a Gordon House Seniors Brochure at West End Seniors’ Network’s Kay’s Place in the Denman Mall, or emailing welcome@gordonhouse.org.

This era of social distancing is really the opposite of everything Gordon House is about. We’re experts at cramming as many singing, dancing and laughing people as possible into a space — remember the time we had 100 people around one table at our GBQ?

But at the end of the day, safety has to come first. Our members deserve a safe environment and we are sparing no expense to ensure our programs have the most robust, evidence-based protocols in place. We are grateful to the community’s understanding and patience as we’ve worked out what our work needs to look like under COVID-19.

Make no mistake – we miss seeing you in person, and can’t wait to open our doors again. If you want to reach out, don’t hesitate to email welcome@gordonhouse.org. In the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, be calm, be kind, and be safe!


2,500 Meals Delivered!

Earlier this year we highlighted that our team had cooked over a thousand made-from-scratch meals for isolated seniors and self-isolating families.

We’re happy to now announce that after 17 weeks of cooking we have surpassed more than 2,500 nutritious meals!

Our dedicated chef Amanda has been busy preparing delicious meals with kitchen help from Joey, and coordination support from Linda, Jessy, Jenn, and Doris. The balanced menus are developed with love and care, and then delivered using sustainable bicycle couriers.

This week’s menu includes: Tuscan chicken pasta, Chicken Jambalaya, Risotto Tricolore, and Joey’s Veggie Bowl.

This program is the result of a partnership with the West End Seniors Network and United Way of the Lower Mainland, and helps ensure everyone has access to the food they need right in their neighbourhood.

For more information about this program, contact Jenn Mason at (604) 683-2554 ext. 204 or jenn@gordonhouse.org


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.


Creating Calm

by Grace

Worry serves a useful purpose—it warns us of danger and it motivates us to find solutions. Worrying, however, that goes on for longer periods of time without cease, can lead to anxiety and a host of health problems. This 12-minute webinar Creating Calm: Simple Activities for Stressful Times” offers 5 practical activities for anyone looking to reduce worry and create calm for themselves, and also for those that they are supporting. This webinar comes with downloadable handouts that can be laminated and cleaned for safe reuse so they can be freely shared with others. It lasts for 12 minutes, and can be found here.

This webinar was created by Kristine Theurer, PhD who volunteers with Grace who is a senior support worker at Gordon House and the Jewish Seniors Alliance.

Dr. Kristine Theurer is a researcher who pioneered the use of standardized peer support and peer mentoring programs to address loneliness and social isolation in senior living. She is a published author of a number of research articles, the most recent of which Reducing Loneliness and Depression: The Power of Peer Mentoring in Long-Term Care in JAMDA and The Need for a Social Revolution in Residential Care, the most downloaded article in the Journal of Aging Studies. Dr. Theurer leads training workshops for staff working in health care in Canada and the US and presents regularly at international conferences. She has received numerous research awards including grants from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She serves on the planning committee for the national conference on culture change in Canada, hosted by the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.


Naan Lavaash Recipe

by Nahid

Serves 8 pieces of Bread
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Combine half the water (1/4 cup), yeast, salt and oil into a medium bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup of flour and mix with spoon.
  3. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water.
  4. Use your hands to mix until it forms a ball of dough. Leave in a warm place covered for 1 hour.
  5. Form the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal pieces.
  6. Roll each piece into a ball. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Flatten the dough using a rolling pin or empty glass bottle.
  8. Cook each piece on a hot dry pan on medium heat, about one minute per side (depending on temperature). Flip when you see pockets of air forming (see video).

Enjoy!


Asian Heritage Month

cherry blossoms at GNH

May in Canada is Asian Heritage Month. We are proud of the Asian heritage in our community and want to share some of the ways that we can all use this month to celebrate Asian culture and learn important history.

Firstly we would like to highlight the low number of coronavirus cases in the City of Richmond, and the fantastic work being done by the Chinatown community during this quarantine to take care of Chinese seniors with culturally appropriate groceries. A great article on stories and experiences of Chinatown seniors during this pandemic can be found here.

Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society have created virtual explorASIAN 2020 to celebrate Asian culture online with podcasts, virtual museum tours, virtual art exhibitions, virtual concerts, virtual yoga/meditation, and much more. Check out their Facebook page.

Vancouver Public Library have created a list of recommended e-books and audio books.

The 360 Riot Walk Tour gives participants the opportunity to learn about the history of the 1907 Vancouver Anti-Asian riots by engaging in a guided virtual walking tour that you can access free online here.

Vancouver Asian Film Festival has launched Elimin8hate which is a campaign against the recent rise in racist attacks against Asian-Canadians.

Sounds Japanese Canadian to Me is a podcast by the Nikkei National Museum.

Many Japanese-Canadians have served in the Canadian military and in fact the Stanley Park Cenotaph turns 100 this year.

The beautiful Vancouver cherry blossoms originated as a gift from Japan in honor of the Japanese-Canadians who served in WW1. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has all of the information on best spots for admiring these trees, both IRL and virtually, as well as running an International Haiku competition.

📷 : Jeff Chant

Statement regarding the closure of the West End Food Hub

For the past five years, Gordon Neighbourhood House has worked alongside the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) to run the West End Food Hub. Delivered each Friday, our Hub was one of the largest neighbourhood-based emergency food programs in Greater Vancouver. We served over 500 people each week (in turn representing over 1500 people in our community), providing food access, hot meals, cooking education, produce markets, free counselling, clothing and household goods, family resource programming, referrals, advocacy and much more.

Greater Vancouver Food Bank recently announced that it would be closing all neighbourhood-based food distribution (including the West End Food Hub) and opening two locations at Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Mount Pleasant Community Centre. More information about the new locations is available here: https://foodbank.bc.ca/find-food/locations/

Gordon Neighbourhood House does not agree with the decision to close the West End Food Hub. We had committed to continue providing the Food Hub during COVID-19 as local food access is more important now than ever before.

Our members have voiced considerable anxiety about their food security amid the combined impacts of a public health crisis, economic crisis and the closure of supportive programs like the Food Hub. We hear you, and we have been working around the clock to find safe, healthy and dignified options for emergency food support. If you are in a tough spot and need support, please email welcome@gordonhouse.org.

In the long-term, Gordon Neighbourhood House remains committed to ensuring dignified emergency food supports are available in the West End. If you are a local organization or businesses wanting to support us in providing emergency food access to the community, we need your help. Email welcome@gordonhouse.org to get involved.


Reading Resources

Did you know that before Gordon House moved into 1019 Broughton Street it was the original location of the West End public library?

We have continued with this tradition by providing a free community lending library in our lobby. Although we are currently closed to the public, there are many other free lending libraries in our neighbourhood: on Cardero (at Nelson near Cardero Bottega), in Mole Hill, and on Pacific (at Thurlow).

Vancouver Public Library provides free access to e-books, audio books, academic resources, and their Facebook group does a story time for children. If you don’t yet have a library card, you can sign up online.

Storybooks Canada and Indigenous Storybooks offer free educational resources to promote literacy and language learning.

The International Children’s Digital Library provides access to children’s books from cultures around the world, and Story Time Online has videos of celebrities reading children’s books. 

The World Health Organisation has released a storybook to help children and young people cope with COVID-19. This can be downloaded for free and is available in 6 languages currently, with another 30 languages coming soon.

For those looking to support local retailers Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium at 1238 Davie remains open for business Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


West End COVID Resource List

This blog post contains information on West End resources for seniors, homeless services, food access, public toilets, and community news & connections. Words highlighted in green are links that you can click on to access further information.

Seniors

The Better at Home Program helps seniors with day-to-day support from grocery shopping, friendly visits, and transportation to light housekeeping and minor home repairs.  For West End and Coal Harbour residents, the program is being facilitated through the West End Seniors Network, please contact their Community Services Coordinator at betterathome@wesn.ca or call (604) 669-5051.

BetterMeals is a seniors service which offers a wide variety of dishes to choose from that are healthy, delicious, and satisfy a wide variety of specific dietary needs. For more information visit their website or contact sam@bettermeals.ca (604) 299-1877. 

ElderDogCanada  provides assistance to seniors and their canine companions including support obtaining food, animal hygiene, minor grooming, and transportation to and from the vet. For more information contact Jacqueline Henley at elderdogvancouverldr@gmail.com

Emergency Resources

If you are an isolated person looking for assistance to get essential goods then please contact BC211. The website homepage also provides information on a variety of emergency resources.

There is a regularly updated emergency food & shelter resource map here and a print friendly version of emergency food & shelter resources here.

Coast Outreach Team can be reached at 604-669-2447. The Coast Resource Centre is closed but support and information is still available at   T 604-683-3787 or M 604-603-9151.

For emergency harm reduction supplies you can contact Spikes on Bikes West End: 8am – 2pm Monday to Saturday  / 604-317-1315 call for service. 

Food

Information on the location and operating hours of the Food Bank are available here.

The food handling guidelines by the BC Centre for Disease Control outlines food issues that may arise at both the grocery stores and at home. It can be found here.

Our friends at Christchurch Cathedral 960 Burrard St are reopening their Wednesday cafe to do takeout meals from 11:30am-12:30pm with physical distancing measures in place.

Vancouver Farmers Markets will be starting back this month, with the West End market due to begin May 23rd.

West End Public Access Toilets

Bute at Davie (NE corner of intersection) – Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

English Bay Beach Park 1700 Beach Avenue – (Bathhouse) Public Toilet in Park 10am-dusk

Bute at Davie (Mid Block Between Davie St and See-Em_la Lane) -Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

Nelson Park (West side of park) – Automated Public Toilet 24hrs

Sunset Beach Park 1204 Beach Avenue – Public Toilet in Park dawn to dusk

News & Connections

The West End Journal is a great source for news and information of special relevance to the West End such as stores and pharmacies opening hours and options for supporting local restaurants.

Keep connected with your friends and neighbours in the West End with these two popular Facebook Groups : Vancouver West Enders (nightly 7pm cheers & other news from the community) and Photographing in the West End (photos & videos from residents in the West End).

I Lost My Gig is a Facebook group providing support and networking opportunities to artists and other vulnerable freelance or gig workers whose jobs have been affected by current restrictions.