An interview with North Shore Neighbourhood House
North Shore Neighbourhood House (NSNH) is a non-profit community service organization that supports all members of the North Vancouver community at every stage of life, with priority given to reaching the most vulnerable. Founded in 1939, it provides myriad programs and services for children and families, youth and seniors throughout the North Shore.
Neptune Terminals provides annual support to NSNH’s programs for seniors, children and youth both directly and through the North Shore Waterfront Gala, which is sponsored along with other North Vancouver terminals.
We asked Executive Director Lisa Hubbard to tell us about NSNH’s areas of greatest need in North Van in 2017, and their unique partnership with Neptune and Presentation House that provides local seniors with outings to the theatre.
Which programs have the greatest reach and impact?
Childcare and our Support Child Development Program (support for children with extra needs) are two thirds of our organization and our budget. And I would say helping a child helps the whole family. It also helps seniors, it helps parents, and it helps our schools and school districts. There is no one that isn’t somehow connected to a child. And as children grow up, they become our employees and our neighbours.
What new programs started this year?
We just opened a new 37-space childcare centre in the new Onni building on 13th Street and Lonsdale. It’s unique because it was built and paid for by the developer and made possible by the City of North Vancouver, as part of an amenity package. It’s well thought-out, and a great part of the community plan. It’s an area where people can live, shop, and have their children in daycare. And it’s easily accessible by transit. It’s right in the core of the City of North Vancouver so it supports convenience and accessibility.
Do you have any programs that are under-subscribed?
No. We ask the community what they want and need, and we build programs based on what we hear. We don’t have a lot of time for things that aren’t being used.
Where is the greatest demand?
Finding quality childcare is definitely a challenge for families on the North Shore. Finding childcare that is accessible, and particularly spaces for children that require extra support is an even greater challenge. What we hear from our families is that safe, high quality childcare is hard to find, and once you find it, it’s hard to pay for. But also, the North Shore has affordability issues in general, which can mean the separation of generations. You’ve got seniors living here, but their kids can’t afford to do so, and that impacts our seniors’ support networks. We have seniors who are trying to navigate the healthcare system alone, which can be very difficult. And seniors’ care is very expensive. People talk about childcare being expensive…but senior care is very expensive. We hear from our families how stretched they are trying to raise young children while also helping seniors in their family.
What are some of the program offerings for seniors?
It’s primarily social programming, with an emphasis on using your brain, because we know that brain exercise helps decrease early onset dementia. But also having a place to go, having friends, providing motivation to get out, is very important for seniors. Neighbourhood House and our programs are a way to make connections. For instance, a senior who doesn’t drive meets one who does and the next thing you know they’re going on their own trip and creating their own memories. It’s especially helpful to seniors who are new to the area.
Many of our programs are based on providing opportunities for people to be involved. We have seniors who come to our childcare centre to read stories to children, or work in the kitchen, or teach school-aged children how to knit, for example.
One very important aspect of all seniors programming is that our staff can get to know the seniors in our community and find out what their needs are. Is it housing? Is it a handyman to come in to fix something? And many of our facilitated groups are not just for interest sake, but focus on senior safety. Understanding computers and the risks that come with using one is just one example.
Can you put into words the importance of your partnership with Neptune?
We have donors and we have partners, but I would say Neptune is both a donor and a partner, and that is unique for a company. They understand what we need, and help us problem-solve, as opposed to just transferring money. We have a deeper connection than that. We share an interest in what’s going on in our community and wanting to understand the trends and the current and emerging needs.
Neptune puts in the extra time to meet us and hear us…and they care. They’ve created opportunities and made connections for us that we wouldn’t otherwise get. They sort of carry us a little bit in their back pocket in that they’re always thinking about us. For example, several years ago when they had provided some funding for Presentation House Theatre, they asked PHT to direct that funding to children’s and senior’s programs at Neighbourhood House. The result was the creation of a program called Take Your Seats, which provides us with tickets to give to seniors and their caregivers with barriers to being able to get to the theatre. So even though we didn’t get the funding for that program directly, our children and seniors went to plays, and that in turn enables us to use our resources for other things to help and support people who are in need. The relationship we enjoy with Neptune is truly a partnership.
Located in North Vancouver since 1939, North Shore Neighbourhood House (NSNH) has been delivering services to residents for generations. Whether it is childcare or youth or seniors programs or helping new immigrants adapt/familiarize themselves with the area, NSNH is continually building and evolving its programs to meet the needs of the community.
Built on strong foundations of partnership, participation and volunteerism NSNH staff are driven to provide services that are: relevant, high quality and affordable. They have a network of 11 sites across the North Shore, truly making the organization a hub for area residents.
Inclusivity is central to how the neighbourhood house operates and every day 500 kids walk through the doors of NSNH to participate in their childcare or after school programs. Last year approximately 5000 different people enrolled in at least one program offered by the neighbourhood house. Over the next five years the organization is focusing on continuing to deliver high calibre programs, expanding their offerings to meet the community’s needs and growing partnerships with other service providers to maximize the space available at all their facilities.
North Shore Neighbourhood House is gearing up for a busy summer program that will include archeology digs, trips to Whistler, kayaking, and days at the PNE. North Shore residents interested in participating should visit their website to learn more.
Neptune Terminals is a proud supporter of North Shore Neighbourhood House and the relationship between the organizations is best described as a partnership. Together we will make the communities on the North Shore stronger for everyone.