Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Jose Valverde first began volunteering for MPNH three or four years ago when his wife told him of a men's group that was starting around that time. The group practised Yoga and Taichi and held seminars on self- improvement and entrepeneurship. “There were remarkable men who came here to share practical life skills”, says Jose.
Jose Valverde had come to Vancouver with his wife and family in 2010 from Lima, Peru, fulfilling a long time dream of coming to Canada. Jose settled in Burnaby, where he already had family.
Jose continues to volunteer at MPNH, particularly with the men's group, which Jose says is a group for men to “find themselves, become better parents, better people, better men.”
Jose says that through MPNH he has gotten a holistic picture of Vancouver and the struggles of people who live here, and found a way to contribute to the broader community. One of Jose’s favorite times at MPNH was “Art in The Neighbourhood” where people decorated the streets in anticipation of a harvest festival.
“Come here with an open mind willing to share what and who you are”, says Jose. “Here you can volunteer and be yourself and be well-received and find your place. It feels good to be part of a community. I would strongly encourage people to come here and find out what the house has for them”.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Dolores Prairie Flower, a Metis woman of Cree-Dene/French background, has been volunteering at MPNH since Feb 2016.
She began visiting BC a number of years ago, and moved here in 2013. Earlier this year she learned of MPNH through a poster in the building she lives in, the Kwayatsut centre. At a morning community breakfast at MPNH Dolores met Sherry Small, who suggested that Dolores volunteer. Now four months into being an MPNH volunteer, Dolores says that she has found a meaningful sense of connection to others at the MPNH. “They see skills and invite you to use them”, she says, “They are so very welcoming. It gives you an opportunity to share, which is a big part of my culture. To pass on your gifts to others.”
Dolores has volunteered in the kitchen and with other tasks at MPNH and now leads a beading and talking circle at the House. It is open to everyone and is a place to connect, share stories, and share beading skills. Dolores usually plays traditional native flute music, chanting or pow-wow music and people have a “big sharing time”. People learn to bead necklaces, earrings, dancing regalia, and beaded plaques. “I try to use teaching colors, traditional medicine colors”, says Dolores.
Dolores’ name “Prairie Flower” is connected to the Metis heritage. Metis were known as “flower people” because of their heavy use of flowers in their traditional designs.
Asked about whether any events or festivities at MPNH stand out in her mind, Dolores says that’s it’s the everyday connection she really values.
“I love Mt Pleasant, and MPNH has really helped me get more connected to the community. The neighborhood is like a spider web, and MPNH is at the centre. All the different people and communities find their place on that web, and when you come to the centre you can become connected to all of them.”
When Sherifa Azzab first came to Canada from her native Egypt she felt "alone and isolated" until she heard through her son’s school about volunteering at South Vancouver Neighborhood House. Later, while attending the Lead Program at ISS she met Blanca Salvatierra, who encouraged her to volunteer at Mount Neighborhood House.
At Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House Sherifa found support and welcome, and was greatly helped in connecting to others and finding deeper integration into Canadian culture and community.
One of Sherifa’s greatest memories from her time at MPNH so far is an Egyptian cultural dinner. Sherifa delighted in helping with the decorations and food, and the opportunity to share her culture with Canadians.
In Jan 2016 Sherifa became an Arabic Settlement Worker with MPNH, a job she loves and finds very meaningful. Sherifa says that at MPNH she found inspiration and encouragement find her passion and achieve her goals. She also appreciates the way that MPNH recognized her skills and offered her a position that matched her strengths and abilties when one became available. “At MPNH I was able to find myself”, says Sherifa.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Kevin recently completed his degree in Linguistics from UBC and he came to us at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House around 2 months ago. He first started volunteering in the tutoring program where he started working with a refugee one-on-one from Nigeria in order to help improve his English. Ultimately, he feels like working one-on-one with participants will help him in the future, as he wants to pursue a career in English education.
Further, Kevin is now volunteering in the English Conversation Club where we have around 15 participants who join us every Wednesday from 10:30am-12:30pm. It's a great opportunity for folks to interact with one another and improve their conversational skills. Kevin has had the opportunity to facilitate a class already where he taught a class on Discover Canada which is a handy resource tool for people who want to obtain their permanent residency card. So far, he has really been enjoying his time here and he believes there really is a sense of family while working here.
He feels like he is gaining the confidence to be successful in the future because he is actually getting the opportunity to teach others. He feels fulfilled in his work with the participants and more than anything else, he highly recommends MPNH for anyone who is interested in volunteering with us.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
What first inspired Vanessa to volunteer were her personal experiences. When she first arrived in Canada, she found that along with her family she was having a hard time adjusting to their new life and the cultural changes. She strived for better experiences while adjusting to this new life, which volunteering has provided her.
“Helping others helps you help yourself”
Through volunteering, Vanessa has made many new friends, as well as learned how she can personally help others who may have gone through the same experiences as her. As a result, she has seen her self-esteem and confidence increase, enabling her to feel more comfortable when talking to others. Her life experiences and time spent volunteering has also made her feel more useful in comparison to how she would feel staying at home.
Overall, volunteering has provided Vanessa with the much sought after Canadian experience, as well as given her a sense of belonging in the community; she no longer feels alone.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Arnason has been coming to the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House for just over a year now where he is part of a Men’s Group and helped facilitate a Canning workshop. A friend of his recommended that he come and explore the house due to their own positive experiences with it. Since then, he has been faithfully attending all the meetings he can.
The Men’s Group is a weekly group that meets to discuss a variety of men’s issues, practice skills such as cooking, yoga, and meditation, and enjoy the camaraderie that coincides with it. Bishop also helped run a Canning workshop, which educated members about emergency preparedness, food supply, and finances regarding food.
Through volunteering, Arnason has been able to meet and learn about people from different backgrounds and cultures and has made many new friends doing so. He also believes that volunteering is beneficial because you get to experience personal growth, contribute to the community, and overall make the world a better place.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Yajaira, originally from Venezuela, moved to Canada in 2012 after a long-lasting period of living in the United States. In January 2015, she joined Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House’s (MPNH) Cooking Club and subsequently began volunteering in the kitchen. When she is not volunteering at MPNH, she finds time to volunteer at various organizations as a translator, language educator, and assists refugees with their daily lives.
What inspired Yajaira to initially volunteer was her drive to improve her English and create new friendships. Through her volunteering experiences, she has been able to see how individuals are benefitting from the programs offered and how their social situations are improving. Yajaira finds great joy and inspiration in observing the selflessness portrayed by individuals who are donating their time, helping one-another while not expecting anything in return.
“I had the experience to explain to people a part of my culture… I am giving them a part of the history of my country”
The seniors programs are the most crucial to Yajaira, due to them pushing past the barriers of isolation and boredom being experienced by countless individuals. She thinks that people of all ages should volunteer, however, not just because of the personal rewards and the opportunity for new friendships. Rather, she believes that a lot of individuals have an untapped potential and a greater purpose in life, which they are able to access through the positive, life-changing act of volunteering.