Neighbourhood Houses are known as places to connect, volunteer, and become involved in the community. Many people do not realize the important work that neighbourhood houses do to help people feel a sense of belonging. This is known as social inclusion, and is particularly important when community members are experiencing a challenge or barrier in their lives. When people feel socially isolated, they often experience negative impacts to their health and well-being. Our open doors and inclusive programs can make a tremendous difference and help people feel valued and motivated.
We are pleased to share some stories from people who have benefitted from ANHBC neighbourhood houses through our collective work on social inclusion. Enjoy!
J.L. is a participant in Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Seniors in Action program, which promotes physical activity, social inclusion and independence for seniors who live in Vancouver’s West End. Shortly after the death of her husband about a year ago, J.L.’s neighbour started to bring her to the community lunches at Gordon House to meet new people and socialize with other seniors.
Over time, J.L. joined the seniors’ lounge discussion group, then the walking group, and recently the in-house Seniors’ Advisory Committee where she now advocates for seniors’ needs. She has also taken on volunteering in her community, and assisted on a Small Grants project with her fellow neighbours.
Throughout J.L.’s involvement at Gordon House, she has expressed how important it was for her to feel she could join the activities at her own pace and that the programs provided a safe space for everyone. After her husband passed away, J.L. became very aware of the potential to become isolated and fall into deep depression – but credits the Gordon House for giving her a sense of community and much-needed support during an incredibly dark time.
John came to the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House (CCNH) as a quiet and timid eighth grader who struggled to connect with his peers and others within the community. Before joining CCNH, John’s world had felt quite small… simply going from school to home most days. But slowly and over time, this neighbourhood house grew to be like a second home to John and allowed him to flourish in his community.
As a participant of Cedar Cottage’s Summer Youth Projects program, John decided he wanted to connect more with his elders and created the important “Seniors Stories.” Through this project, he reached out to local seniors who volunteered with Cedar Cottage and documented their experiences – including how they came to be part of the neighbourhood. John’s stories carefully and thoughtfully documented the immense struggle, resilience and hope of these elders.
Empowered by these stories and experiences, John has formed meaningful relationships and become an ambassador for Cedar Cottage. In this role, John helps welcome new youth to CCNH and works to make sure they feel comfortable at this neighbourhood house – just as he now does. Through CCNH’s encouragement and programs, John has grown to become an inspiring and thoughtful leader among his peers.