CONNECTION. CELEBRATION. ENGAGEMENT. LEADERSHIP.
Our Community Board
A Letter from our Community Board and Executive Director
It has been another busy and productive year at MPNH, as we transition into a time of reconnection after the last few years. This year, we said goodbye to our former Executive Director, Tulia Castellanos. Tulia was steadfast in her leadership throughout the pandemic and worked tirelessly to ensure that MPNH not only pivoted quickly to manage the necessary changes, but to ensure that the organization continued to grow and thrive in challenging circumstances. The team at MPNH extends
our deep gratitude to Tulia for her dedication to supporting staff, volunteers and community with care and compassion.
With our goodbye to Tulia, we are especially thankful to welcome our new Executive Director, Devika Ramkhelawan. “As the incoming Executive Director, I have felt inspired by the work of this creative and dedicated team. If you come to ‘our house’ you will often find it full of neighbours from all walks of life. They will be gathered, speaking multiple languages, sharing food and stories. If you are lucky, you may find yourself at the house when there is music and dancing! In our house there is something for everybody, and in a world where finding belonging is becoming increasingly elusive this is a very special gift.”
This year we also say goodbye to several board members who have made such wonderful contributions to the house. Both of our co-chairs Dawn Marie and Lysa Dixon will be stepping away from the MPNH board. Dawn Marie has been on the MPNH board for 7 years. Not only did Dawn Marie serve as co-chair for the last few years, but was also involved as a participant and community leader. We will miss Dawn Marie’s generosity with her time, compassion, and culinary skills. Lysa Dixon served on the board for 9 years with 4 of those years as co-chair. We are grateful to Lysa for helping lead us through the pandemic all while keeping us focused on our mission and vision. We are also saying goodbye to board members Michael Moll, Abeer Yusuf, and Barbora Samieian. Michael has served on the board for 5 years and has been a strong and steady presence on the board in that time. Abeer served on the board for several years, guiding our work with a strong social justice lens. Lastly, we say thank you to Barbora and wish her and family the best as well as with her
This year, with our commitment to decolonize our work, we realized not everyone had the opportunity to meaningfully learn about decolonization. Together with community members and staff, we created a community learning framework for truth and reconciliation. With the leadership of Indigenous youth leader and facilitator, Edgard Villaneuva-Cruz, the Community Learning Series was directed towards non-Indigenous community members, specifically newcomers and settlers to inform and educate members on ongoing effects of colonization, urban Indigenous experiences and to activate the responsibility and connections between settlers, newcomers, and Indigenous people. The community learning took place through dialogues, workshops, and engagement sessions across age demographics. MPNH had a very full and successful winter season, with 5 large community events where we met new neighbours and reconnected with old ones. Around 500 people participated in these events and $16,000 was raised to support folks in our community with much needed resources over the season.
The Connect & Prepare program, designed by Building Resilient Neighbourhoods is a ground breaking approach to building emergency preparedness by strengthening social connections between neighbours. Connect and Prepare moves participants from individual and household preparedness to thinking about community preparedness. Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House was the first agency to pilot the program in Vancouver which enabled our staff team to connect to people to MPNH programs and services. Each group of neighbours took part in facilitated workshops,
received some emergency supplies and information about resources to help them continue to collaborate afterwards. All three of the groups created a plan of action and as engaged and connected neighbours. Once again, our work has been guided by our values, with many opportunities to connect and engage with the community: It has been such a fantastic year of reconnection and moving forwards. We could not have done this without the support of the fantastic staff at MPNH, the volunteers who give so much, the dedicated and very active community board, and of course our funders, who help make all of this possible. As we move into another year, we look forward to continued reconnections, and new friendships to be forged.
-Devika Ramkhelawan, Executive Director; Lysa Dixon, Co-Chair; Dawn-Marie Morgan, Co-Chair
ANHBC Board of Directors Liaison
Community Board Member