To celebrate Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, we’re sharing stories from our program participants, staff, and volunteers about what makes our House so special.
Here, former staff member, Sharon Babu, explains why working at our House meant so much to her, and why neighbourhood houses are so important.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House was small. When things are small it’s much more intimate and there was more freedom to do lots of different things. You really felt like you’re working together.
The term grassroots really applied then. Literally, and figuratively, you had to do everything.
That’s why working at the House was one of my favourite jobs I ever had. It made me realize how much I enjoy working in community settings and working directly with the people that programs and services can impact.
I think the role of a neighbourhood house is community leadership, and that shouldn’t change.
Neighbourhood houses have this most important role to connect individuals to communities. This should stay their main role, to provide that.
How to do this is a challenge, in the sense of figuring out the needs of your neighbourhood, and listening to people’s voices, instead of hearing the government say, “Here’s $100,000, we want you to do this, this, and this,” and then thinking about whether that is a fit for your neighbourhood.
How do you keep listening and how you do respond in a transparent way to people’s needs? This is a continuing challenge for neighbourhood houses in Vancouver. But it’s so important.
Neighbourhood houses are traditionally the ones that can take that lead, because they are so broad-based in who they serve and how they serve. I think that’s a role that will continue.