ANHBC 125th Anniversary in Metro Vancouver | Neighbourhood House Week
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ANHBC 125th Anniversary in Metro Vancouver | Neighbourhood House Week

As a volunteer-driven organization, our
mission is to build healthy and engaged neighbourhoods by connecting people and
strengthening their capacity to create change. What makes Alexandra Neighbourhood
House unique is that we are the oldest neighbourhood
house in Metro Vancouver. Everybody is extremely friendly, we have a
real broad group of people. And really being in the location that we’re in has
provided us an opportunity to engage with the community in a unique way.
Virtually anything that you would like to see happen in your community can
happen here at a neighbourhood house. The act of giving helps you to feel connected
and I think connections is really what helps people to believe that they live
in a safe and caring place in this world. Newcomers that are new to the country
may find the neighbourhood house a place where they can come and meet people and
develop friendships and feel welcome in their community. I just feel that we’re very lucky to have
this neighbourhood house close by. I think that one of the things
that’s unique about neighbourhood houses is that we focus on our local communities.
We get to know the people in the community. We invite them in to become
part of the neighbourhood house, to really own the neighbourhood house
themselves with us. And we provide whatever supports we can to help them
become all that they can and reach their potential. Our members here are from different
walks of life. We all gather together through food, because that’s our most
common denominator, in terms of communicating and expressing ourselves. This is not my work, this is my home,
where I’m feeling comfortable, where I can laugh, where I can talk with other
people who have the same passion as me. Usually when we are newcomers, we don’t
realize about the potential that we have. Everything is special about Kitsilano
Neighbourhood House, that’s why I’m working here for 11 years. In the past few years,
I have worked and volunteered in many neighbourhood houses. The one thing in
common is a sense of belonging, a sense of inclusion,
and then the value of diversity. And it’s neighbour sharing
information with neighbour, which I think is really important.
It helps to fight isolation and it helps to bring an intermarriage of
culture around food and gardening, which is going to make our
city more beautiful and more resilient. I came to Vancouver about 25 years ago, and when I arrived here,
I didn’t see anybody who speaks Spanish and I very much needed
to speak Spanish with somebody. And one of our settlement and
family support workers, she leads a program. They are women from all
different parts of the world and different levels of English,
different ages. It is great to be around women who, they may need your help, but at the same
time, they give you so much and make you feel welcome and make you feel happy to
be around so many people. A lot of what we do, it focuses on newcomers, simply because that’s who lives in South Vancouver. More than 50% of the population
are newcomers to Canada, so we provide opportunities
for social connection. Our whole philosophy here at Sasamat is
that we can build really amazing stewards of the environment by bringing
people in at a young age, having them have a positive experience in the
outdoors through play and recreation, and teaching a little bit along the way,
with the hope that these children grow up to be
adults that care about the climate. It’s such a joy to be able to
open a new neighbourhood house in the same year as we
celebrate 125 years of ANHBC. So we put together the ‘Thrive
Marpole’ fundraising party. It allowed us to announce our presence
in a way that people would take notice, and see that we’re taking this
project very seriously. What Marpole Neighbourhood House’s
identity is will be determined in partnership with the
neighbours over the next years. We’ve been involved in the international
movement of neighbourhood houses and settlement centres
in Canada for 125 years, and today we’re more relevant than ever. Neighbourhood houses are really
within a multitude of neighbourhoods in a variety of countries
and it is really a movement that works from the grassroots level,
building community one neighbourhood at a time. We support each other, we learn from
what’s going on in the other neighbourhood houses and similar to the
model of bringing people into the neighbourhood house to feel together and
making social networks, we do that same thing between the neighbourhood houses
with our staff and the executive directors and volunteers. We connect
and learn from each other. We advocate for human rights and
social justice in building civil society. Our association includes nine neighbourhood
houses and two outdoor camps, that serve as building blocks for communities throughout the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. The best way to figure out what a
neighbourhood house is and what we do is to come in and experience for yourself.

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