– 2021 kept us on our toes! This newsletter will bring you up to speed on our winter updates.

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To all our neighbours and friends of the House,

Around this time last year, we were all unsure of how the pandemic would continue to affect our lives. We questioned what the holiday season would look like and how we would connect with our loved ones. It was hard to imagine how the upcoming year of 2021 would unfold.

Despite the uncertainty around what was to come, we all embraced the unknown in 2021.

Here at West Neighbourhood House, not only did we spread holiday cheer, but we learned how to show up for our community in new ways that kept our participants, volunteers, and staff safe. This holiday season truly feels like a celebration of the resiliency of our community while adapting to the challenges of COVID-19.

As we move into another year of finding new ways to support our community, we would like to share a taste of the amazing programming at the House.

Here’s to another year of optimistically embracing change, as we continue to power through the pandemic.

Help our community flourish!

Last year at West Neighbourhood House, we delivered vital programs to our participants a time when they needed support the most. The hard work of our staff and volunteers paired with your contributions allowed us to continue supporting the most vulnerable people in our community. With gratitude, we ask for your renewed support to allow us to continue this meaningful work. Please click the button below to read our annual appeal letter and help our community flourish!

An update on the Preschool Program – here’s what’s happening!

A much needed community resource: our new preschool program at
1033 King St. West.

A much needed and well-loved program at the House is our preschool program, a drop-in for children and their caregivers to come together as a community. Our staff design and facilitate activities which are intellectually engaging and teach valuable social skills that may be hard to learn in a socially distanced world. Whether it’s sharing toys or connecting with peers, our program supports both the development of children and new relationships among families.

In November, our preschool program moved from its 248 Ossington location to 1033 King Street West. The space, which hosted employment, adult learning, and financial empowerment programs before the pandemic, has transformed into a cheerful area where children play and learn. The change of location helps to address a lack of programming for children in the Liberty Village neighbourhood.

“Lots of families are new to the area and living in small spaces. Caregivers and children are enjoying getting to know their neighbours”, says Sonia Sousa, Family Support Worker.

Over the last two years, we were all affected by social isolation, but the pandemic was particularly hard on children who may have limited interactions with people outside of their households. The preschool program provides an opportunity to connect with others and foster a sense of community when it is most needed, especially for the little ones.

In response to the Omicron variant, the preschool program and parent coffee times are moving online for the next four weeks to ensure safety is prioritized. We hope that the new year will allow the drop-in to run in-person once again. To join the program in-person or virtually, please contact Soniaso@westnh.org

A pilot project is taking off – the Managed Alcohol Program is here.

Les Brown, a case manager supports members in multiple aspects of managing their substance dependency.

We’re excited to tell you about an innovative initiative taking shape at The Meeting Place Drop-In, our program for people experiencing homelessness. In partnership with the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, we have launched the Managed Alcohol Program – a new project that seeks to improve well-being through a harm reduction approach to substance dependency and withdrawal.

One of three similar projects in Toronto and one of seven in Ontario, our pilot project currently supports five individuals. Project participants are assessed and monitored by a physician, receive moderate amounts of wine to prevent the severe health effects of alcohol withdrawal such as hospitalization, and participate in individualized and group supports. The project is designed to provide participants independence and agency in taking care of their health, which are sometimes overlooked in other substance use interventions.

In the months to come, we will monitor the success of the project and hopefully expand the scope to assist others who face the challenges of alcohol use. “For years, The Meeting Place believed a Managed Alcohol Program would be helpful for some members, we’re so happy to implement and test this model”, says Lambrina Nikolaou, Director of Community Programs.

A Warm Welcome to Greenest City!

Greenest City Harvest Festival 2021: Celebrating the corn seeds saved from corn indigenous to Turtle Island

In January 2022, Greenest City will become a program of West NH. Greenest City, in Parkdale, will voluntarily transfer its assets to West NH at the end of December 2021. The Greenest City Board resolved

“in spirit of understanding that West Neighbourhood House has, in spirit, taken on the deep relationships, partnerships, commitments to a thriving earth and thriving people, and has indicated through West Neighbourhood House’s newly approved Strategic Plan, a commitment to climate action and Righting Relations with Indigenous people and the earth. We understand that these commitments are better held by West Neighbourhood House and indeed, the impact can grow in the current funding climate; and the strength, resources, and experience West NH brings to community development and the community.” (Greenest City Board, December 2021)

West NH has long admired Greenest City’s strong grassroots work, sustainable food growing and sharing, climate action initiatives, and how it brings the community together to learn, lead, and connect with the earth and each other.

West NH and Greenest City believe that together we can do more to scale up climate action, and right relations with the earth and Indigenous people.

It’s not too late to read our Annual Report

 

What’s inside:

Have a look at how our programs evolved during the pandemic – especially our seniors and gender-based violence programs. Like many of you, we also reflected, learned, and laid the groundwork for a better future. See how West NH is addressing Anti-Black Racism and what neighbours, program participants, and staff said in our Community Check-In about building a better Downtown West Toronto.

Thank you for helping us move forward during trying times!

In whatever capacity you contributed, we want to say thank you for helping us get through the year together. Your support keeps us hopeful in taking on the challenges of 2022. You helped us keep our neighbourhood safe and resilient, we wish the same for you and your loved ones this holiday season.

Beyond a financial contribution, there are other avenues to support the House! One of the best (and totally free!) gifts you can give is to send this newsletter to someone who might be interested in our work. Anyone who would like to stay in touch with us can sign up  at westnh.org/newsletter.

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