Powered By Values
Please note: The views and opinions expressed within Powered by Values are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official policies of the London InterCommunity Health Centre or its funders.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed within Powered by Values are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official policies of the London InterCommunity Health Centre or its funders.
Forward by Sarah Patterson, Seniors Worker, London InterCommunity Health Centre:
The Immigrant Seniors Home Visiting Program is a program for seniors who find it difficult to leave the house and who may feel alone. Volunteers are partnered with a senior from the community. The partnership is based on shared language, hobbies and activities. Volunteers provide companionship weekly and can also support seniors to take the bus, go to a grocery store, do crafts or connect with other services in the community.
In honour of Volunteer Appreciation Week this is a guest post from one of our very committed and passionate volunteers. Jose has been a volunteer with the Immigrant Seniors Home Visiting Program for more than 3 years and has been matched with two vulnerable and isolated immigrant seniors in the community. Jose prepared this as a speech and shared it at our Volunteer Appreciation ceremony on April 24. Thank-you to Jose and all of our other volunteers who continue to support the work , mission and values of the London InterCommunity Health Centre!
It is a pleasure to share my volunteer experience with all of you. 4 years ago my family and I came to Canada as permanent residents. A Doctor in El Salvador, the country I came from, I was aware of the difficulties and challenges face by newcomers, and since I was not able to start to work in my field, volunteering was an attractive option to keep myself in “the field”. I came to the London InterCommunity Health Centre looking for an opportunity to volunteer and help as much as I can to a population sector that for so different reasons are not reached by the “conventional” health care system.
So far, it’s been an interesting and rewarding experience. In the “Senior’s Home Visiting Program,” my job is to give companionship and help to immigrant seniors in the London Area. To be honest with you, it is not a simple task. They have grown and lived in different cultures, do things their way always; and facing a 180 degrees change in their lifestyle, from being fully independent to not being able to communicate is sometimes traumatic. It is our mission to help in the transition of this culture shock. But most of all, we give them our time, a moment to share all their impressions and also opinions about life under their scope and, at the same time, both grow as people.
Through this program I have found an opportunity to give what I know in my field. The volunteer team, with all our backgrounds, have a huge potential and are able to make an impact in people’s lives. As a Doctor, I try to understand the adaptive process my seniors are having and the different psychological challenges they face, and offer help within my boundaries and capacities. Identified factors in their living space that can be potentially threatening given their specific condition, or identified risk behaviors just by chatting, are examples of how one can change our senior’s perspective.
Volunteer is, as defined somewhere else, “the most fundamental act of citizenship and philanthropy in our society”. As my coordinator told me the very first day I applied as a volunteer, you should be sure it is the right time in your life for volunteering. Each of us volunteers, creates a relationship of care and compassion with our client (senior, man, woman, child), share experiences, hobbies, and life itself. Without knowing, we are becoming part of a social network that works toward the benefit of the ones who need the most, looking for no reward. Most of all, we are their first real connection to a community that will help them to achieve what they are looking for.
As newcomers, we came to this country, among so many other reasons, wanting to leave a mark, a legacy. For our clients, we have delivered it. To our families, we show with our actions that we care and bond with the community. To all my fellow volunteers, thank you for your efforts, and thanks to our staff, as we will not be here without their conviction and passion for help.
Last night my daughter got into the car after her program at the community centre had ended and turned to me quietly and asked, “what happened in Boston?” I told her that a couple of bombs had gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and at least 2 people (now 3) had died and many more were seriously injured. Two weeks ago, we visited Boston and walked around the Historic Back Bay area – exactly where the bombs went off. As I have mentioned previously in my blog, my daughter struggles with mild to moderate anxiety and this awareness that we had been in the same space not that long ago, trigger a very strong reaction.
In that moment of sharing with my daughter, she lost a sense of security in the world. It is a loss that many people have experienced over and over again: after the September 11 attacks, after the Oklahoma bombing, after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newton… These acts of violence, whether committed with bombs or planes or assault rifles, undermine our sense of safety in the world. Already the speculation has started as to whether this was the act of terrorism. I remember after the Oklahoma bombing people speculated the same way – and then there was a collective sense of shock when the bomber ended up being a white American citizen.
I am awake in the middle of the night, struggling about how to talk about this tragedy and the fears it raises. I hear the trashing of a particular religious group, labeling it as a religion prone to radicalism, ignoring radicalism in our society from so many different sources. Radicalism in any form serves to divide people from one another and raise distrust. It is not the sole purview of any one religious group. I believe it does arise – at least in part – when a person or a group does not feel heard or included in our society. That does not mean I justify it, nor do I believe that these acts of violence are justified behaviours. I am deeply saddened by a continued lack of civil discourse about differences in our society in general. To be frank, my response is often to withdraw in the face of vitriolic debate. Sometimes the withdrawal begins even before the vitriol begins because I anticipate the toxicity.
I have been reading Meg Wheatley’s latest book entitled SO FAR FROM HOME: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World. She talks about how we ended up in a world that nobody wants. The book feels so timely right now. There are days when the world feels consumed by greed, self-interest and oppressive power. I have not found this to be an easy read because of the place that I have been holding – and reinforced with the bombing in Boston – of much despair about what is truly possible. At the same time, I am somewhat of an optimist and even as I circle around this frustration I am also finding places of gratitude, belonging and resolve to continue to do the work to make my community and the world a better and even safer place. I believe that we have to hold gently our speculation as to who caused events such as this recent bombing so that we don’t contribute to the divide and radicalism.
I am grieving today for the father who ran the race, received a hug from his son and then a split second later, lost his son to the bomb blast while his daughter and wife were seriously injured. I am grieving for the others who lost loved ones and for those seriously injured whose lives will never be the same. But I am also holding gratitude. I am grateful for those yesterday who rushed to help. I am grateful that there were people who still trusted and opened their homes to complete strangers when those strangers could not return to their hotels. I am grateful for the voices who have struggled to not rush to assume the source of this act of violence and stir up more racial violence. I am grateful for those who continue to work in peace and in thoughtful, action-orientated dialogue, even in the face of despair.
Think about this… In the late 1970s, the average CEO made 25 times more than the average worker. Today, that CEO’s salary is 250 times higher.
Earlier this week I was listening to a story on CBC radio about the targets Service Canada has set for their staff. Staff are asked to collect on the little under half a million dollars in fraudulent employment insurance claims made each year. According to Linda McQuaig’s most recent book, “The Trouble with Billionaires,” in 2008, the Canada Revenue Agency received information that a number of wealthy Canadians who owed $17 million in taxes, interest and penalties for funds hidden in tax havens. By July 2010 a total of only $5.2 million had been recovered.
And we’re chasing down half a million? Seems like more than a bit of inequity is going on.
What is going on? Why should we care? And what does this have to do with the work of a community health centre anyway?
As a community health centre we work on the broad social determinants of health (housing, employment, social inclusion, social justice, environment, recreation, etc) in addition providing primary health care access. Books like “The Spirit Level” (by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett) and the “Trouble with Billionaires” point out that wealth accumulation in the hands of a minority has very significant negative impacts on our health as a society and on our democratic processes. As such, when I was reading Linda McQuaig’s book over the Christmas holidays, I hoped we could attract her to London for a speaking engagement. There is such a direct connection between the income inequity and the challenges faced by our clients.
Throughout her book, McQuaig asks whether today’s CEOs are really that much more talented than their counterparts of 40 years ago. She suggests that the reason for the increasing income disparity is the significant changes to our tax structures that has consistently shifted the tax burden from the very wealthy to the middle class. Ms. McQuaig also effectively outlines just how detrimental some of these policy shifts have been to our democratic processes as a whole.
While I won’t rehash the arguments in the book – she makes them so much more effectively than I ever could – I hope you will join the Health Centre at the Central Library on March 20 for an engaging conversation about “The Trouble with Billionaires.” I think you’ll come away with some new food for thought as you file your income tax return this year!
I really want the stigma to be over. I want it to be over so that the people that I care about can receive the treatment that they need and deserve. I want it to be over so that I can talk freely about what it means as a family member to be supporting, or living with individuals with mental health concerns. Today is February 12th and Bell is supporting mental health initiatives with 5 cents for every tweet and mention about @BellLetsTalk.
So, I’m going to talk today about the people I love. If they had had a stroke, or cancer, or diabetes, I could freely share my experiences without worrying that I somehow was blowing their right to confidentiality or privacy. Yet, here’s the thing. As a family member who was sent home with someone who had already made multiple suicide attempts and was profoundly depressed, because, I was told by the hospital that I was there to take care of her, I was impacted by her depression. I took two weeks off work to try and do the things that should have been done in hospital. And I was the family member who got the phone call from the police at midnight telling me my family member had been taken to the hospital for a major suicide attempt. And I was the one who didn’t show up at the hospital because I didn’t want her sent home with me again. And I was the one who lived without my family member in my life for two years while she got treatment and got healthy because staying in her life was costing me mine.
I lost a friend three weeks ago to suicide. Her three teenage boys lost their mother. The world lost an amazing woman who was a passionate advocate for abused women. She threw me the most caring and giving baby shower for the birth of my daughter and she made an incredible moose meat bourginon. I am saddened that what most people will remember about her is her depression, paranoia and the tragic way she chose to end her life.
I had a partner who struggled with bipolar disorder for most of our relationship. I lived with the mood swings of incredible highs and wild crazy plans and the crushing lows where he couldn’t get out of bed for days. I don’t know what our relationship might have been without the mental illness, but it sure didn’t help us get through the regular tough moments of a relationship. There were times he believed that all he had to do was pull himself up by the proverbial boot straps and things would be fine if he just tried harder. Medication compliance was hit and miss at best because he thought he should really just be able to do better by trying. Our relationship ended, in part, due to the instability of his mental health.
I am also the parent of a child who struggles with ADD, multiple learning disabilities, a bright intelligence, sometimes debilitating anxiety and occasional bouts of depression. She is a joy in my life, but during our worst periods, I didn’t know how to get out of bed in the morning to face her anxiety and depression. I had to fight with a pediatrician who told me that I just had to send her to school when she was anxious or it would get worse – these on days when all 140 lbs of her was throwing up in distress. No one sat beside me as I lay awake beside my child after she described in pretty graphic detail her suicide plans, but the crisis intervention intake phone line said it didn’t sound severe enough and the hospital sent us home with no offer of help. Over the next three years I would spend thousands of my own dollars in private counseling trying to keep her afloat. Today she is thriving in a new school setting and I am so very proud of her.
What I won’t do is stay silent about this issue that has touched not only the lives of the people I care about, or the clients we work with at the Health Centre, but everyone in our community. While improvements have been made in our system, I am afraid it has a long way to go. Until we begin to establish targets of when people can receive the appropriate services for mental health supports – and not just in crisis, or with severe mental health issues and breakdowns – we will never see the change that we need to see. I think the stigma impacts on funding and resources for mental health services. If nothing changes, we will lose people we love, needlessly. And I will not stay silent about being a sister, a partner, a mother, and a friend to someone who has a mental health issue. Because this affects us all and we all deserve better.
Idle No More
Idle No More continues to grow and change as a movement. Over the past several weeks, I have grappled with the movement – even as I passionately support its aims. My grappling has not been about the issues themselves, but the complexity of the discussion and the fact that I don’t think it easily simplifies into a blog post or a sound bite. I am distressed over our general lack of awareness about the rights and legislation pertaining to First Nation people. I am even more distressed about the escalation of anger and racism against First Nation people.
I am not an expert on First Nation issues or legislative rights, but the ignorance expressed through some of the comments that I read in the newspaper’s comment section makes my heart ache. There is such a lack of basic knowledge of the Indian Act, or even what is contained in the omnibus legislation of Bill C 45. I have wanted to speak out but sometimes felt immobilized by what I knew I “didn’t really know.”
But here’s the thing – what I do know is that the manner in which our federal government has treated and responded to the concerns and issues facing First Nation people in Canada is abhorrent. Embedded in a BUDGET bill was a change that has the impact of “lowering the threshold of community consent in the designation and surrender process of Indian Reserve Lands.”
When people suggest that the manner in which people live on reserves is their own fault, I remind them that there are currently 116 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory – that’s 20 percent of all First Nation Communities! Even more shocking is that 65% of these have been going on for more than 2 years! This is not something that a community can control and it is the blatant disregard of our federal government that allows this state to continue.
The current struggles under scrutiny are but the most recent in a long line of constitutional struggles for the First Nation people. I have heard some people say “get over it,” but you can’t get over what is still broken and never fixed. You can fight – and should fight – for resolution. And regardless of whether an audit showed financial mismanagement on one – or more – reserves, the reality exists that the funding provided to First Nation communities is NOT sufficient to support the housing, education and health care that is required in often isolated communities. We can look to our own municipal governments to see the same struggles – made all the worse in fact because our local government is MUCH better resourced in supports to manage large budgets and complex projects.
However, this is also not just about Bill C-45 as there are many other pieces of legislation in front of parliament that directly impact on First Nations people which were developed without any or adequate consultation with these communities themselves. These include the following:
So here is my challenge to you – and to me. Stop. Listen to the concerns with an open mind. Imagine that promise after promise has been broken to you and your community. Imagine being treated like a second class citizen every single day. Imagine being denied your culture for generations. Imagine having your children taken far away from you and then trying to rebuild a sense of community and family. Then remember that if the solution was so simple it would be done by now. These are complex issues and require a commitment to conversation and dialogue and not sound bite solutions.
A Sneak Peak at My Placement
Livia Manser is a student with the Social Service Worker Program at Fanshawe College.
After interviewing at the London InterCommunity Health Centre for a placement position necessary to complete my Social Service Worker fast track program at Fanshawe, I was excited to learn I was accepted as a student with the Child, Youth and Family team. At the time I did not yet fully understand the magnitude of programs and services the Health Centre offers. What I have noticed already, however, is the passion, respect and dedication that come from all who work here. I am just completing my third week, and the agency has made me feel very welcomed. I am honoured to write this blog and share with you my personal journey.
I always wanted to be a psychologist, at least that’s what I told myself throughout my post-secondary career at Western University. I always knew I wanted to work with people, to understand their life stories, to empathize with their hardships. Some of my own life experiences have at times been difficult, but they have brought me to where I am now.
I was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Canada when I was 10 years old. Without any knowledge of English, I was pushed into a class full of English speaking fifth graders. That day, I cried. I didn’t understand what was going on around me, what people were saying, or what I was supposed to do. Fortunately I spoke English fairly well within a year and today I feel very proud for overcoming an experience that has stuck with me to this day. Although I believe the impact of immigration can be far more complex than my own experience, I gained a great deal of respect for those who are new to Canada. Today, the biggest challenge is missing out on family celebrations, as only my parents and my brother live in Canada. When I do get to see extended family and friends I appreciate it much, much more.
I moved through elementary school and high school more of a listener than a speaker. This continued through University – I was shy. I had not yet found my strengths and had not learned to stand up for my opinions and beliefs. Seemingly my only purpose was to get with good grades. In my final year I volunteered at the Children’s Aid Society as an observer of supervised family visits. That was the first time I felt truly accomplished; like someone with a purpose who was a part of something important. It was also an opportunity for me to use my best skills: listening and observing. Although I wasn’t directly working with individuals, it was eye opening to read stories of families and see the interactions between parents and children, witnessing both the challenges but more importantly their ability to overcome obstacles.
Before I knew it university was coming to a close and I was completing an honours degree in Psychology and Spanish linguistics. I had no set plan for the future besides wanting to work with people. My thought of becoming a psychologist was slowly disappearing. A Master’s and PhD were out of the question as I felt ready to enter the workforce. Luckily, I learned of the Social Service Worker Fast Track program at Fanshawe College. The course load is heavy, but the topics are interesting. For the first time in my educational career, I feel like the courses I’m taking actually matter outside of getting good grades. The knowledge I am gaining is applicable to the real world, and not to mention the placement that is part of the program’s requirements, allowing me to apply my knowledge and skills.
So, here I am, completing my first couple of weeks at the Health Centre; specifically working with the Ethno-Racial Youth Mentoring Project. I had the opportunity to experience a night of cooking and laughter with the mother mentors and mother participants in the program, gain an understanding of developmental evaluation, and I am looking forward to meeting the youth mentors and their mentees. I had the privilege of spending a morning with Health Outreach for People who are Homeless, opening my eyes to their experiences, truly seeing how resilient people are. I am excited to meet more clients and staff and to gain more knowledge of community health centres. Being part of and witnessing the individuals and teams who are part of making these services possible makes me excited as I move forward in this placement and eventually, my career.
With each day that goes by, the more the word ‘diversity’ comes to my mind. Diversity as it relates to the clients, to the programs and to the staff. Diversity that is respected, welcomed and celebrated. Once again, I’m at that place where I can go home at night and feel accomplished, feel more knowledgeable, and feel a sense of purpose. That energy is incredibly motivating in all parts of my life. I’m an open book, ready to be filled with knowledge and most of all, experience.
Talk swirls around the City of London about the budget proposals currently in front of city council. The first public input session is scheduled for today, Monday, January 11. There have already been numerous “build a budget” sessions aimed to educate the community about what goes into the budget.
Our current mayor ran on a platform of a zero percent tax increase for four years – without cutting services. Now he says that it was without cutting “essential” services. Clearly, his definition of essential service and mine are vastly different. The City’s draft budget proposes a tax increase of 2.5% – which translates into an average of $59 per household per year – about the amount of a single tank of gas. And even with this INCREASE, there will be a resulting REDUCTION in city services.
A zero percent budget increase WILL result in decreased services – there is no way around that. And the impact of a zero percent increase will be felt most by our city’s vulnerable. One cut being proposed is a $1 million cut to the affordable housing program. Last year this $1 million was cut as a “one time” deal, but now it is on the table again. This decision will limit the options available to people currently living on the street as there is little affordable housing available.
So what you might ask?
People who are homeless, or living in transitional housing situations, are more likely to have health issues related to exposure to the elements. Their health issues often result in increased use of emergency rooms, crisis services, police services, and ambulances – all very expensive services that end up costing the overall public system (and tax payers) more money. An investment in affordable housing that increases access to housing right now will pay bigger dividends later on.
In addition, a reduction in overall funding to London Housing – beyond the contributions to affordable housing infrastructure mentioned above – is being achieved through the elimination of on-site summer day camps at London Housing locations, a reduction in paid off-duty police patrols, and reduction of twice weekly garbage pick-up. On-site summer camps keep youth engaged and less likely to get into mischief. They also help low income families because they don’t have the additional expense of travel on public transit to get there. Twice weekly garbage pick-up helps control odor and vermin that accumulate in high density areas.
Other proposed cuts embedded in the budget documents will result in no library services on Sundays. A cut in library services removes the only internet access that some individuals and families have. This may not seem like a big deal – until you realize just how much we assume students have access to the internet for homework assignments. Increased user fees to parks and recreational programming directly impacts most on families with children, and particularly lower income families who have few other options for recreational programs.
I will tell my city councilor that I support at least a 2.5% increase. I am willing to pay the price of a tank of gas to contribute to a municipality that “walks the talk” of building a thriving and vibrant community for all.
Regardless of how you feel about the tax increase, or the value of a zero percent budget, I encourage you to get involved and let your city councilor know how you feel. Otherwise, they will believe that simply because they were elected, you support what they say. But before you do, I urge you to watch this video (http://abeoudshoorn.com/blog/?p=811 ) and then do one or both of the following:
It’s that time of year when people of many different faiths celebrate significant days. My family tradition has been to celebrate the winter solistice with a secular celebration of Christmas. We intentionally take time to reflect on our gratitude for all that we have in our lives - what has been good in the past year and the challenges faced and overcome.
In our community, there have been many challenges. We have lost many industries and long-standing, well paying jobs. We face a city council talking about a budget built on a 0% tax increase – which is really a deficit budget because you can’t achieve that without cutting. This month we witnessed a terrible tragedy in the USA resulting in the loss of many young lives. Many people live in our community in poverty and with chronic illness for which they struggle to get care. It is easy to feel overwhelmed or in despair.
But this holiday season blog is intended to be positive – and I actually see much to celebrate. I am in awe of our community filled with people wanting to make a difference, from things like ReThink London, Pints and Politics, Emerging Leaders and engaging advocates, community organizers and bloggers encouraging people to be aware of what is (and isn’t) in the budget and to get involved. There’s Awesome London ready to give away its first $1,000. Ignite London. An Old East Village coming to life and one of the most amazing community spaces for food and craftspeople at the Western Fair Farmers Market. London is brimming with opportunity and potential and there are people who really are committed to making the world a better place for all.
So, I end this year, and anticipate the start of the new, filled with gratitude and optimism that we can all find a way forward.
However you celebrate this time of year, I ask you to consider those in our community who are struggling and trying to do their very best. I ask you to think of those who are far from home or without family to spend time with this holiday season. I invite you to consider with compassion the circumstances in which people are living. I ask you to consider making a donation of food, time or money to an organization that supports the most vulnerable in our community.Finally, I hope that you share with those in your life that you treasure, just how much they mean to you. May you all have a safe and happy holiday season.
By Krista Hawrylyshyn
London InterCommunity Health Centre Board of Directors, UWO Student
Single, simple moments can change you. I believe a bizarre string of these single, simple moments define us and through reflection we accept our purpose. The memories that lingershape our paradigm, those that leave a scarbuild character, and select few plant new beginnings.
My fascination for cell biology routes itself in a memory of pulsating heart cells at Ontario Cancer Institute ten years ago. A group of beating cells have inspired me to pursue medical research and sparked a general interest in health. Various previous research positions related to cardiology have influenced my current interest in vascular ageing, a project that will likely develop into aMaster’s degree in Biochemistry. My involvement in each of these projects was guided by my inexplicable passion for medical research, sparked by a few simple, beating cells.
Numerous encounters have contributed to my respect for the struggles of others, but few bear as much weight as this seemingly normalmorning when I was fourteen.With a straight face and a low whisper, I was told by a friend whom I had known forever that she was moving out. She told me that her step father had been sexually abusing her for years, and her mother refused to believe the truth. This memory will forever linger, pushing me to learn more about my community. In response to feeling powerless that morning, Ifounded a youth advisory council while in high school to hear youth concerns and lead an Alternative Spring Break team within London in second yearto meet local youth experiencing hardships. Learning about local concerns was a much needed first step, but it sparked a curiosity regarding how to influence priorities within local non-for-profits to address observed gaps in service. This encouraged my involvement with United Way Young Leaders program, aimed to educated youth on non-for-profit board governance through workshops and placements. Acting on my interest in health, I took on a placement with London Intercommunity Health Centre. LIHC provides services to London populations experiencing barriers to health care. Following contributions during committee meetings, board meetings, networking socials, their accreditation process, and conferences, I have become an official voting board member as of September 2012. In addition to knowledge gained from program workshops, conferences and discussions of health policy, these experiences have enabled the development of life skills in networking, effective communication and critical thinking. To me, this position recognizes my sincere interest in public health. And importantly, I am empowered to draw attention to community needs. To this day, my inability to recognize major hardships impacting one of my closest friends haunts me. She has had the strength to stay true to her words, and to this day I have struggled just to carry her secret.
The true capacity of a community is realized when its members are mobilized, as I was through United Way’s youth engagement programs. My involvement with United Way London continues; recently,I worked with GenNextto organize a community barbecue. By helping to collectdonations of food, games and prizes from community partners, we were able to bring 300 people from a less privileged area of London together to celebrate community in late August. Strengthening connections, facilitating new friendships and inspiring youth through the presence of Damian Warner, a 2012 Olympic decathlete and prior London resident, were all enabled through this simple barbecue. GenNext is a group of 20-30 year old youth in the community that act to encourage peers to become active. In addition to organizing the community barbecue, I have supported their back-pack drive, helping to prepare the 367 backpacks distributed throughout the community. I hope my involvement within this branch of United Way will grow in the coming year and that I can assist in further empowering and inspiring youth. Furthermore, I have recently assisted in the facilitation of a Young Leaders workshop, using my knowledge from the past year to educate and encourage the involvement of my peers in non-for-profit board governance. These programs plant seeds in the minds of community youth through single, simple moments and push them to act.
By fourth year of university, my string of memories has gained influence and narrowed my direction. More than I admire the inner-workings of a cell, I admire the power of community. Community development projects will consume my future efforts, with health care at the forefront.Today, at any single, simplemoment, I am waiting to be inspired. The possibilities of where that single, simple moment may lead motivate me to push forward.
The Pillar Community Innovation Awards, presented by the Pillar Nonprofit Network, celebrate nonprofits and charities and the individuals, businesses and government sector organizations who work with them to make the London community brighter. On November 13th, 2012 the London InterCommunity Heath Centre was the proud recipient of the Community Impact Award.
I thought I would use this space to share the remarks I made that evening:
Wow. I am honoured to be standing before you representing the Health Centre’s 300 volunteers and 80 staff members who strive each and every day to make an impact on their community. I am proud of the work they have accomplished and honoured to work alongside such committed and passionate individuals. Bev and Lucille, this award is for all us who work with community members who face the greatest barriers to health, wellness and community inclusion yet continue to display the most incredible resilience.
I have worked with the London InterCommunity Health Centre for more than 10 years, and in other provincial community health centres for years before that. Each community health centre works with different populations unable to access more mainstream services due to a variety of barriers – poverty, mental health challenges, culture or language barriers, physical disabilities, discrimination based on sexuality or complex and chronic health concerns. Our work is intended to address the barriers to health and wellness and to ensure our service delivery is accessible and equitable.
What the community health centres have in common, despite working across a broad geography with differing populations, is that we believe our communities will never be as strong, as creative, as healthy or as vibrant as they could be if we don’t reduce and eliminate barriers to community inclusiveness and create circumstances in which every man, woman and child can participate to his or her full ability.
And that is where I will veer off my remarks about our Health Centre and the tremendous work done by our staff and volunteers and instead make a plea to all of you here tonight. The work that must be done in the community to make it the community you want to raise your children and your grandchildren in is not going to happen through the work of one agency alone – or even multiple agencies. It’s going to happen when each one of us decides it is not okay, never okay to leave people on the margins. To push people to the margins. Each of us as individuals have a role to play – and the London InterCommunity Health Centre and the other agencies and individuals recognized here tonight are ready to work with you to ensure that EVERY ONE MATTERS.