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NORTH YORK MIRROR | Tuesday, April 30, 2013 |

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the north york mirror tackles a local issue. this week: the bathurst-finch community hub

Opening doors at Bathurst and Finch

our exclusive look

As part of the North York Mirror’s Exclusive Look series, we are focusing on the organizations that make up the Bathurst-Finch Community Hub and the services they offer to the community. The Mirror sat down with Shelley Zuckerman, executive director of North York Community House.

By FANNIE SUNSHINE

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Tell us about your organization and what it does.

North York Community House (NYCH) is a charitable neighbourhood centre located in northwest Toronto. For over 22 years now, NYCH has been dedicated to supporting families, new Canadians and building strong neighbourhoods. We provide services in over 80 locations (including schools and community centres) in more than 30 languages. In 2012, NYCH provided services to over 25,000 people.

w NEWCOMER SETTLEMENT

NYCH helps newcomers to Canada to make their settlement as smooth and successful as possible. NYCH supports newcomers with their settlement in many ways – to learn and practice English, navigate complex systems such as health care – all important steps to feel at home in a new country. Through offering a variety of support groups, NYCH helps isolated newcomer women and seniors to decrease their isolation and learn about Canada. NYCH’s settlement program in schools helps newcomer students and their families settle in their school and community.

w skills and development

Our range of training and leadership development and mentorship programs connect people with a wide network of community support, information and training and development. NYCH also links new Canadians and long-time residents. Newcomers develop new connections, knowledge and skills and longtime residents contribute their knowledge and experience, and gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by immigrants to Canada.

w community economic development

NYCH supports newcomer women who are interested in starting their own small businesses. We provide training on legal requirements for starting a business in Canada, work with them to develop business plans, and connect them with other entrepreneurs and mentors.

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How does your organization fit in with the Bathurst-Finch Community Hub?

NYCH has started a m u l t i c u l t u ra l catering business (Delightfully Yours Catering Services) that provides comprehensive training and creates opportunities for newcomer women to build their skills in the food industry.

NYCH is an anchoring partner at the Bathurst Finch hub. NYCH focuses our work in several under-resourced neighbourhoods in northwest Toronto and Bathurst-Finch is one of them. We were very excited about the hub being built in Bathurst-Finch and the potential for the community to have a wide range of services. For the past four years we had an office at Sheppard and Bathurst, and we decided to close up that office and move to the hub. Our space at the hub is over 1,500 square feet and

w healthy living

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NYCH’s healthy living programs encourage newcomer families to build a healthy and active lifestyle through activities such as community kitchens, nutritional workshops and exercise programs.

w children, youth and families

NYCH programs support parents, children and youth in their healthy development. NYCH provides drop-in programs for parents, caregivers and their children from 0 to 6, parenting groups and workshops. For years, NYCH’s after-school programs have provided a safe place for children. NYCH also runs summer camps that provide vital opportunities for newcomer children to make new friends, get lots of exercise, and share in a great Canadian summer experience. NYCH offers youth different opportunities to develop their skills, connect with each other and their communities, and become peer leaders to other youth. These activities not only provide a safe place for young people to hang out, they are also encouraged to think and plan for the future, and make choices that will help them achieve their goals.

w community development

NYCH supports local residents to play a central role in shaping their neighbourhood, through providing training opportunities and facilitating connections to resources.

What is your role in the organization?

I am executive director of North York Community House. I have been the executive director for 21 years. When I started at

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Shelley Zuckerman

NYCH, it was a very small organization with only two staff. Today we have over 100 staff and 200 volunteers.

What has the feedback been like from the local community since you opened the doors there?

People in the community are very excited. This neighbourhood traditionally has had few services and very limited community space. They are also very pleased that NYCH is in the hub and we are expanding our services in the community.

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We are finding that we are attracting more volunteers and there is a greater demand for programs and services. People from the community are very pleased with the look and design of the space and have found the hub to be very welcoming.

What’s the difference between the location of the hub and other locations?

There are a couple differences. First of all, the hub houses a wide range of services, while in our other non-hub locations, NYCH is the only organization. This provides us with the opportunity to easily refer community members to other services in the hub when they need them. As mentioned in an earlier question, having other organizations next door provides us with the opportunity to partner with others in order to provide a wider range of services. Secondly, the hub is newly built and specifically designed as a community hub. We also had the opportunity to design our own space. The hub has great resources such as a

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we provide a wide range of services, including one-to-one and group settlement services, English conversation circles and citizenship classes, women’s programs, youth and adult leadership programs, volunteer matching and mentoring, and entrepreneur training and employment services. We also have space for childminding for the children of program participants. We also work with the other hub partners to co-ordinate and plan programs together in order to have greater impact.

fully equipped kitchen, several community rooms and outdoor space that we can use for programs and community gardens. This is not something that most social service organizations are used to. Usually we rent commercial or community space that is not designed for our services and we usually have limited funds for renovations. It is very exciting to have space that is new, beautifully designed and that meets our program needs. It is especially exciting to have outdoor space that we envision using for all kinds of programs and initiatives from community gardening to children’s activities.

Your organization’s goal is ‘to enhance the strength and resilience of our neighbourhoods.’ Talk about that goal.

As a neighbourhood centre, one of our goals is to work with the community to support them to improve and make positive changes in their neighbourhood. We work with community members in Bathurst-Finch to identify changes that they’d like to make in their neighbourhood or new

services that they’d like to see in the community and we support them to make these changes. This could involve providing training in civic literacy or leadership training, connecting them to resources that they need or helping them to advocate with organizations or institutions.

April 30 South  

We are a local newspaper reflecting the lives of our readers by covering what’s important to them: The people and events in their own commun...

April 30 South  

We are a local newspaper reflecting the lives of our readers by covering what’s important to them: The people and events in their own commun...

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