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Still going strong: Spring 2020 news from West Neighbourhood House

Still going strong: Spring 2020 news from West Neighbourhood House

 

To our dear friends, supporters, donors, volunteers, staff and passers-by:

It feels like a long time since we’ve seen you in person. We hope you’re staying safe and taking care of each other. Here at West Neighbourhood House, we’re hard at work delivering essential services and transitioning others to online and phone supports — you can read all about that below.

But first: How are you? We miss you. Please let us know how you’re doing. We’d love to hear from you by email at info@westnh.org or phone at (416) 532-4828. Tell us about emerging needs you’re seeing in your community, and what you’re doing to help each other. We’re always interested in hearing from you.

For community relations and media questions, contact Genna Buck at gennabu@westnh.org or (416) 712-7428.


A message from executive director Maureen Fair

a psw works with a client at West Lodge

Clap for our frontline workers: Our Personal Support Workers are unsung heroes who provide crucial one-on-one health supports to vulnerable seniors. (Photo by Chris Young/The Canadian Press via Twitter)

A few weeks ago, West Neighbourhood House was buzzing with dozens of group activities every day. To name just a few, we held seniors’ classes — everything from yoga to ukulele — adult learning groups, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, choir practices, and preschool circle time. One of our problems was finding enough room for all the groups that needed space!

Over just a couple of days in mid-March, all that changed.

I’m astonished but very proud of the staff who swiftly and creatively transformed our daily work into telephone supports and online programming for hundreds of program participants who are at home.   

Several programs continue to provide modified in-person care. Our dedicated team of Personal Support Workers continues to provide crucial in-home supports for hundreds of seniors. Meals on Wheels delivers meals to vulnerable people in our community. Our staff at The Meeting Place continue to provide safe space and resources for homeless people. These staff deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for continuing to work despite the fears and uncertainties about COVID-19.

The community response has been amazing as well. To those who have gone above and beyond to help us at this difficult time, including with donations, we appreciate you more than words can say.

Stay safe and well until we see you again.

Maureen Fair
Executive Director

Give help, get help: Our COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network

You can be a neighbourhood hero

You  — yes you! — can be a neighbourhood hero. We’re looking for volunteers to help seniors and others who must stay home to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid volunteers can run errands, make friendly calls, fight social isolation and identify emerging needs in their neighbourhoods. One grateful recipient called the volunteers who helped her get groceries “lovely people” and “angels”!

The volunteers are forming self-organizing groups called pods. We’re providing training and support. To learn more, sign up, or get help, visit westnh.org/mutualaidWe’re especially looking for pod leaders to help organize mutual aid efforts.

If you or anyone you know needs help in West Toronto, fill out this form or get in touch with us — we can lend a hand!

volunteer posters her neighbourhood for mutual aid

A mutual aid volunteer papers her west-end neighbourhood with posters advertising how to give and get help.

How we’re helping families in financial crisis

FEPS program worker provides counselling over the phone

The Financial Empowerment and Problem-Solving (FEPS) team is working to help low-income people solve financial problems, file taxes and access benefits securely online, even as physical distancing prevents us from holding in-person appointments.

This pandemic has thrown many struggling families into the financial deep end. Our Financial Empowerment and Problem-Solving (FEPS) team is on a mission to rescue them. This free service helps coach people through deferring loan payments, accessing tax refunds, and navigating emergency benefits like the new Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

It’s needed now more than ever. For many low-income folks, a combination of factors — such as financial precarity, a history with bad loans or evictions, and trauma from illness — can make even fairly simple financial problems feel impossible to solve.

A bit of support from FEPS can transform despair into resilience. Our frontline workers even make calls to landlords and property managers to help people who are facing the direct costs of COVID-19 — including by missing work or rent payments because they’re sick with it — work out a way to get back on track. FEPS workers directly prevent homelessness. They also deserve our applause!

We need your help to continue this work and reach more people in urgent need because of COVID-19. If you can, please consider donating to our COVID-19 response fund.

Help build the House — become a member!

Whether you are a program participant, neighbour, community member or donor, you can actively support the work of the House and our mission and guiding principles by becoming a voting member. Everyone is welcome. By voting at our first virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 25, 2020, you can help decide important matters such as selecting our board members, approving our financial statements, and making changes to our bylaws. Support local democracy in action: Become a West Neighbourhood House member and vote! Click the button and complete the sign-up form by May 22, 2020 to join.

become a member button