How would you improve our community with $500?

Participants enjoy a resident-led, virtual Reiki workshop funded by a Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant.

Do you have a small project idea that could make a positive impact in our community? Online applications are now open for Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants and Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants!

The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program is a grassroots initiative that helps residents of any age, experience, or background take part in building community. We provide grants up to $500 to neighbours who have small but powerful ideas that will make our community better.

For over a decade Gordon Neighbourhood House has coordinated the program for all residents living on the Downtown Peninsula. In that time, we have supported hundreds of neighbours who have taken steps to improve our neighbourhood—people just like you.

‘The People in Your Neighbourhood’ mural coordinated by local artist Deanna Flinn and funded with a Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant.

Grants are awarded to projects that: connect and engage residents, share residents’ skills and knowledge within the community, build a sense of ownership and pride, and respect and celebrate diversity.

Changes in the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program due to COVID-19
COVID-19 has disrupted most aspects of community life, especially how we interact with one another. Many projects that we previously funded (condo/apartment building social parties, craft workshops, block parties, etc.) are temporarily not possible due to Provincial Health Orders.

For that reason, we are offering two grant options in 2021.

1. Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants
A new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants (R-NSG) has been developed to forge connections and mitigate social isolation during the pandemic. This funding is intended for: safe, virtual, outdoor, and physically-distanced projects. Online R-NSG applications are now open and close when funding runs out.

2. Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants
We are also offering Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants for projects that contribute in some way to the City’s Greenest City Action Plan goals. These goals include reducing our carbon footprint, creating zero waste, improving access to nature, clean air and water, growing local food, to name a few. However, your project cannot involve greening a business.

This Neighbourhood Small Grant program is for everyone. We’ve funded projects led by residents as young as ten, in addition to neighbours well into their nineties. Some project Leaders have lived in our community for 30+ years, whereas others have moved here less than a year ago. We believe neighbours are the experts on their community, and we all have ideas on how we can make our community better and more resilient.

Please contact our Coordinator if you have a specific question, need support completing the application form, require translation assistance, would like something clarified, or simply want to learn more. This is a great opportunity to get involved in your community.

Jim Balakshin, Downtown Peninsula Program Coordinator
Neighbourhood Small Grants Program
jim@gordonhouse.org
(604) 683-2554


Reiki Fosters Virtual Community During Pandemic

Participants Enjoy a Virtual Reiki Session

Shehbaz Ahmad lives in the West End, and as trained Reiki Master wanted to share his skills and passion with the community. Last year Ahmad received $500 in funding from a Neighbourhood Small Grant to host his resident-led Reiki sessions at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

The classes were very popular, however when COVID-19 first emerged it seemed unlikely that his initiative could continue. That is, until one participant encouraged him to host the sessions online. He was skeptical at first, however the success of the online sessions surprised even the Reiki Master himself.

Reiki is a form of alternative energy healing that originated in Japan. Practitioners frequently use a technique called palm healing through which a “universal energy” is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage wellness. Many Reiki participants experience benefits similar to meditation including: reduced stress, increasing self-awareness, refocusing on the present, and relaxation.

Shehbaz first started hosting his classes in 2020. As the demand for the free Reiki sessions grew, Ahmad decided to offer weekly sessions.

“Our sessions continued every week at Gordon Neighbourhood House until the pandemic,” recalled Shehbaz, “then one of the participants called me and said is there a chance we could continue our Reiki sessions online. I decided to give it a go and everyone was so happy to stay connected during the pandemic.”

Since hosting the sessions online, the group has flourished and now has close to 50 participants, many more than could be accommodated at his in-person sessions.

“We now call it our Joyful Reiki family,” said Ahmad, “What started with seed money of $500 from a Neighbourhood Small Grant, has now become a strong tree. I remember the first day when I was wondering if even one person show up. Now we have a regular virtual group in the West End, and people joining us from as far away as Germany.”

The group has been extremely beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I found many friends and have heard many heart-warming experiences from our community on how Reiki has helped them deal with stress and anxiety during these challenging times. Participants have reported sleeping better, having clarity of mind, emotional resilience, more confidence, and improved decision-making,” said Ahmad.

Birdeen Seltzer lives in the neighbourhood, and had a similar experience.

“Joyful Reiki Sundays have been an excellent way to stay connected with the West End Community during this challenging time,” explained Seltzer, “To share in the spiritual nature of Reiki with like-minded people has been integral in navigating the pandemic.”

The ‘tree’ that Shehbaz started, is establishing its roots as well. Several participants have decided to learn Reiki, and have become Reiki Masters themselves. Two members of the group now regularly volunteer and lead sessions when he is unavailable.

“I thoroughly enjoy volunteering…,” stated Ahmad, “I found that experience very fulfilling, enriching and enlightening. I feel delighted to see participants grow, and start their own wellness journey. The feeling of being part of a Reiki family is priceless.”

If you are interested in joining the Joyful Reiki group, the classes take place every Sunday at 11:00am for 1.5 hours. The sessions feature deep Reiki relaxation and guided mediation. Email hello@dervesh.ca for more information.

The Neighbourhood Small Grants program supports resident-led projects with up to $500 in funding. Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the program for all neighbours on the downtown peninsula (West End, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Downtown South, Central Business District). Applications are now open for a new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants which supports safe, distanced, and virtual projects. For more information, visit the NSG website, or email jim@gordonhouse.org.


We’re Hiring! Community Program Worker (Cooking)

Do you enjoy cooking? Are you eager to make an impact in your community? Are you looking to join a team of fun, dedicated, and passionate people? If your answer is yes, Gordon Neighbourhood House is looking for you!

POSTED: April 1st, 2021
START DATE: As soon as possible
DEADLINE: Until position filled

OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE:
Two                              
1 Permanent part-time position (21 hours per week)
1 Temporary part-time position (14 hours per week until fall 2021)

COMPENSATION
Permanent part-time: $17.12/hour + benefits;
Temporary part-time: $17.12/hour + 4% in lieu of benefits.

SUMMARY OF POSITION
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency, Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) in collaboration with our partners started an emergency frozen meal delivery program.

This program is one of several initiatives GNH has launched to improve food access in the community during the pandemic, and seek permanent solutions to the persistent and systemic causes of food insecurity in our neighbourhood.

Every week, we prepare and freeze 250 made-from-scratch meals, which are then delivered directly to participants via Shift bicycle couriers. Since the program started, our food team has prepared over 9,000 delicious and nutrient-rich meals that feature diverse menu options, while accommodating participant dietary restrictions.

We are looking for two part-time team members who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and portioning 250-300 meals every week. This is a hands-on kitchen role. Examples of meals could include: vegetarian curries, spaghetti, stews, macaroni & cheese, stir fries, peanut stews, casseroles, chili, tofu bowls, etc.

KEY DUTIES
– Prepare food for emergency frozen meal delivery program

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
–  Follow FoodSafe health and safety procedures at all times
–  Cook meals using recipes from our monthly menu
–  Prepare ingredients and cook delicious and healthy food
–  Heat and cool meals to required temperatures
–  Portion and plate meals
–  Clean and sanitize kitchen, equipment, and utensils
–  Ensure meals are prepared on time and within our budget

TASKS
–  Maintain kitchen tidiness and ensure supplies and equipment are clean and organized
–  Set-up, clean, and sanitize work stations
–  Clean, wash, and sanitize equipment, dishes, and utensils
–  Complete program-related records and documentation
–  Estimate expected ingredient requirements and coordinate preparation
–  Prepare ingredients for cooking: washing, peeling, chopping, seasoning, etc.
–  Safely operate oven, grill, dishwasher, appliances, hand tools, and utensils
–  Ensure prepared food reaches required heating and cooling temperatures
–  Portion meals into individual containers


SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

–  Food Safe Certificate
–  One year related experience or an equivalent combination of education and training
–  Ability to multi-task, prioritize duties, and manage time efficiently
–  Ability to work in a team environment or independently
–  Self-motivated and directed
–  Physical endurance to stand and move during the length of the entire shift
–  Ability to stand, sit, kneel, bend, move, complete repetitive motions, and lift up to 25 pounds

LOCATION: Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton Street, Vancouver)
Gordon Neighbourhood House is open to staff Monday to Friday between 9:00am-5:00pm during the pandemic. Shifts will take place during regular operating hours. The hours of this position are dependent on funding and may increase if additional funding is secured, or if new programs are introduced.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­TO APPLY
Please e-mail your resume, and a brief description detailing why you would be a great fit for this position to welcome@gordonhouse.org with ‘Community Program Worker’ in the subject line (no phone calls please).

This is an internal and external posting. We thank all interested applicants; however only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a proud member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC), which is an equal opportunity employer. We place a high value on diversity and encourage qualified individuals from all backgrounds and identities to consider applying for the position. Our total compensation and benefits package reflects our commitment to our staff and their family. For more information about Gordon Neighbourhood House, visit www.gordonhouse.org.


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. 


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


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.


5,000 Meals Delivered During COVID-19

Community Chef Amanda Bacaleinick in the Gordon Neighbourhood House kitchen.

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.”

Nutritious meals delivered to seniors with heightened risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.”

Delicious meals delivered to seniors at heightened risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 welcome@gordonhouse.org.

PROGRAM UPDATE: As of January 16th, 2021 we have now prepared and delivered 6,489 meals.


Linda Celebrates 40 Years at Gordon Neighbourhood House!

Congratulations Linda Minamimaye!

1980 was a remarkable year in which many milestones occurred that continue to have a profound impact on our daily lives. The release of the Pac-Man arcade game revolutionized video gaming; the Sony Walkman debuted in North America and transformed personal music players; and Post-it Notes made their passive aggressive debut.

However perhaps even more transformational, Linda Minamimaye started working at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

This year we celebrated Linda’s 40th anniversary at Gordon Neighbourhood House and the Association of Neighbourhood House of BC! With this achievement, Linda has become one of the longest serving contributors to the Neighbourhood House movement in BC’s history.

When Linda first started, Gordon Neighbourhood House was located in a small heritage house on Davie Street (near the current location of the Beetbox vegetarian restaurant). Since then our organization has grown, and Linda has held a range of positions along the way, including Acting Executive Director.

Linda is currently the Director of Operations and ensures our organization runs smoothly. She is among the most steadfast stewards of neighbourhood house values and history (often reminding her colleagues about how things used to be done ‘back in the old days’), while routinely inspiring big dreams for all that is yet to come. In her time with us she has made countless impacts on all of our programs, specifically: seniors, food, employment, family, our thrift store, and countless community development initiatives.

To celebrate Linda’s amazing contributions to our community, in December GNH staff planned a virtual surprise party on Zoom. As Linda was distracted over dinner with her colleague Jessy, unbeknownst to her over 50 attendees joined a virtual event room to surprise her. When she returned to Gordon Neighbourhood House, she was surprised to find a hockey-themed room with a projector displaying the smiling faces of dozens of attendees on a big screen.

Over 65 people joined Linda virtually to celebrate her amazing dedication and contribution to the neighbourhood house movement.

Over two hours, colleagues, past co-workers, friends, family, and neighbourhood house members shared funny stories and fond memories of working with Linda in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s. Linda was blown away by the surprise, and later remarked that the whole evening was a blur.

Thank you Linda for the immeasurable impact you have made on our community! If you would like to send a congratulatory message, Linda can be reached at linda@gordonhouse.org.


Thank You Outgoing Board Members!

Board Members and Staff Participate at a Strategic Planning Session in 2019.


Every fall Gordon Neighbourhood House convenes members for our Annual General Meeting (AGM). The AGM 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, Willie Ng, and Daniela Guerrero Rodriguez.

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 subcommittee 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.

“The 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. Kathryn is an active community builder, and supported tremendous growth and change by all measures during her time on the Board.

Micah Goldberg also 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 along with other stakeholders was instrumental 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 siobhan@gordonhouse.org.


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.