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.


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!