Breaking Bread at the Completion of Our Tigrinya Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Series

We are thrilled to share the completion of another wonderful Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program series in the Tigrinya language! Over six weeks in May- June 2024, our third group of Eritrean and Ethiopian parents and caregivers came together to connect, share their stories, and learn from each other while their children played in our adjacent room with childcare providers. Our incredible facilitators, Aida and Yodit, guided these sessions, allowing the interests and needs of the participants to shape the discussions. The series wrapped up with a heartwarming Eritrean potluck feast, filled with delicious food and joyful moments.

Photograph of Nobody's Perfect participants and facilitators on the final session in June 2024, showcasing a potluck feast of Eritrean food they shared to celebrate.

Showcasing Our Values

At New West Family Place, our mission is to connect families to one another and to resources in the larger community through our programming. This series exemplifies some of our core values of Community, Love, Growth, and Celebration.

  • By offering this course in Tigrinya, we created a space where newcomer families from Eritrea could feel understood and supported. Participants built connections with each other, fostering a community of belonging and mutual support.
  • Our facilitators, Aida and Yodit, brought love, warmth and compassion to each session, creating an environment where parents felt safe to share their experiences and challenges.
  • The “Nobody’s Perfect” program empowers parents with knowledge and skills, helping them to grow in their parenting journey. The topics covered were driven by the participants’ interests, ensuring the content was relevant and impactful.
  • The final meeting’s Eritrean potluck feast was a beautiful celebration of culture, community, and the bonds formed over the course of the program.

Offering Programming in Tigrinya

New Westminster has seen an influx of newcomers from Eritrea, and we recognize the importance of providing programming that meets the diverse needs of our community. By offering parenting courses in Tigrinya, we aim to bridge language barriers and ensure that all families have access to valuable resources and support. Connecting these newcomer families to the community helps them build strong networks, find local resources, and feel a sense of belonging in their new home.

This was our third session of the Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program in the Tigrinya language, which we began offering in January 2024. Thus far we have touched 31 families through the course!

About the Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program

The Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Program is designed to support parents and caregivers with children from birth to age five. It provides a safe space for parents to discuss their experiences, share their challenges, and learn from each other. The program covers a variety of topics, guided by the interests and needs of the participants. Some of the subjects we touch upon include:

  • Child Development: Understanding the physical, emotional, and cognitive stages of early childhood.
  • Positive Discipline: Strategies for managing behavior in a constructive and loving way.
  • Health and Safety: Tips for keeping children healthy and safe in various environments.
  • Stress Management: Techniques for managing the stresses of parenting and maintaining mental health.
  • Building Strong Relationships: Fostering positive relationships with children and other family members.

We are proud to have expanded our offering of programs like “Nobody’s Perfect” in Tigrinya over the past year. By connecting families to each other and to community resources, we help build a stronger, more inclusive community. Thank you to everyone who participated and made this series a success. We look forward to continuing to support families through our diverse and inclusive programming.

Megan’s Inspiring “Birthday in a Box” Project: A Community Story

After a morning drop-in at New Westminster Family Place Quayside, a proud mother and her soft-spoken teen wheeled up with a wagon full of care packages. This begins a heartwarming story of a local teen and long-time Girl Guide, who embarked on a mission to spread joy through her innovative community giving project. With the support of her mother, Megan’s project became a shining example of how the Neighbourhood Small Grant Program we administer for New West can spread love.

Megan envisioned a unique way to bring happiness to those in need. Her idea was simple yet profound: “Birthday in a Box.” This thoughtful care package would include all the essentials to make a birthday cake, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, could celebrate their special day. Megan’s innovative solution even included using sprite as a substitute for eggs and milk, making the boxes accessible and inclusive. The bonus: she has packaged them with a cute Hello Kitty graphic on the top!

A Mother-Daughter Duo

Megan’s inspiration and determination were matched by the support of her mother. The bond between them was strengthened by their shared history with New Westminster Family Place, where they had participated in various programs when Megan was very young. The opportunity to give back to the community that had given them so much was a powerful motivator for both.

With the help of the Neighbourhood Small Grant Program, Megan and her mother set their plan into motion. They gathered supplies, designed the boxes, and organized a distribution event in a public area. The community’s response was overwhelming. Families, individuals, and local organizations came together to support the initiative, turning Megan’s vision into a beautiful reality.

Spreading Joy and Connection

The “Birthday in a Box” project won’t just provide cake supplies; it will deliver joy, dignity, and a sense of belonging to those who receive the packages. We know that the community will feel the impact of Megan’s generosity and creativity. Her initiative highlights an essential aspect of community giving: connecting with and understanding the needs of those around us. The “Birthday in a Box” project will be integrated into New Westminster Family Place programming. We are proud to see how the families we support continue to pay it forward, fostering a culture of kindness and generosity.

Megan’s story is a testament to the power of community support, family bonds, and the incredible impact that young people can have when given the tools and encouragement to pursue their dreams. At New Westminster Family Place, we are honored to be part of such inspiring journeys and look forward to nurturing more projects that bring joy and connection to our community.

Stay tuned for more stories of community, innovation, and the incredible people who make New Westminster a wonderful place to live and grow.

We hope Megan’s story inspires you to think about how you can contribute to our vibrant community. If you have an idea for a community project, consider applying for our Neighbourhood Small Grant Program in the 2025 season and join us in making a difference.

Welcoming Our Summer Interns: The Value of Internships and Learning from Non-Profits

We’re thrilled to welcome our two summer interns, Kayla and Aline, to the New Westminster Family Place team!

Kayla, a Communications student at Simon Fraser University, and Aline, a Sociology student at the University of Victoria, are dedicating eight weeks this summer as part of the Canada Summer Jobs Program to assist in administration, promotion, planning, and running our outdoor drop-ins at Westminster Pier Park and the Kids Zone at Fridays on Front Street.

The Value of Summer Internships

Summer internships offer students like Kayla and Aline invaluable opportunities to apply their academic knowledge in real-world settings. These experiences help bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical application, providing interns with a deeper understanding of their fields of study. For Kayla, the opportunity to delve into event planning aligns perfectly with her communications background. The hands-on experience she gains in organizing events, coordinating logistics, and engaging with the community will be instrumental as she prepares for a career in communications and event management.

Aline’s internship is equally significant. As a sociology student, she is passionate about understanding social structures and fostering community connections. Her role at New Westminster Family Place allows her to witness firsthand the impact of social programs on families and individuals. This experience will enrich her academic pursuits and provide her with practical insights into the importance of social support systems.

Learning from Non-Profits: The Value of Social Connection and Support

Working with non-profits like New Westminster Family Place offers interns a unique perspective on the power of social connection and support. Non-profits are often at the forefront of addressing community needs, providing essential services, and creating spaces for individuals to connect and thrive. For Kayla and Aline, being part of an organization that emphasizes community and family well-being is a profound learning experience.

Kayla’s Perspective: The Joy of Planning and People

Kayla is excited to gain more experience in event planning and loves the atmosphere of large outdoor gatherings. “I love live music and concerts and all the details of event planning.” Her enthusiasm for creating memorable experiences for others is evident in her dedication to organizing events that bring the community together. Through her internship, Kayla will learn about the intricacies of event planning, from securing permits to coordinating with vendors and volunteers. More importantly, she’ll see the joy and connection that well-planned events can bring to families and individuals, reinforcing the value of her work.

Aline’s Perspective: The Importance of Community Connections

Aline is keen to reconnect with the community she grew up in and make positive connections with families. “Seeing how you can focus so much on the individual and make such a big difference. It’s about the little connections that you make.” Her sociology studies have taught her about the importance of social networks and support systems, and her internship will provide a practical application of these concepts. Aline’s interactions with families at our drop-ins and Kids Zone will highlight how small, meaningful connections can significantly impact individuals’ lives, fostering a sense of belonging and support within the community.

Beyond the Internship: Personal Growth and Community Involvement

When they aren’t spending their time at Family Place this summer, Kayla and Aline have personal interests that further illustrate their commitment to family and community. Kayla enjoys spending time with her sisters, who she deeply admires, out enjoying concerts or quietly scrapbooking her memories. Aline, who goes to school far from her family, will be enjoying her time with them and particularly with her mom (her hero!), experimenting in baking, or out on a hike.

Their personal passions and dedication to family and community mirror the values of New Westminster Family Place, making them perfect additions to our team.

Get Ready for an Amazing Summer

With Kayla and Aline’s fresh energy and creative ideas, we’re looking forward to an amazing summer. Their contributions will not only enhance our programs but also leave a lasting impact on the community we serve. Join us in welcoming Kayla and Aline to the New Westminster Family Place team and get ready for a summer filled with fun, connection, and community spirit!

Filling Cups with Community: Celebrating Steel and Oak’s 10th Anniversary

This past Sunday, we had the pleasure of hosting the family zone at Steel and Oak’s 10th Anniversary party. It was a day to remember, as thousands gathered to celebrate with music, local craft beer, a variety of food trucks, a roving magician, and, in our special area, a space dedicated to play and community. 

With Steel and Oak’s signature themes of towers and trains, we created engaging activities that captivated children and families alike. Our LEGO building station, train set, and paper bag crafting corner—where kids could design their own buildings or homes—were all big hits. The faux lawn we were provided became a lively hub of connection, conversation, and play. 

We were thrilled to welcome 583 people to our activities. Among them were familiar faces from our regular programming and many new friends we hope to see more of in the future. Building a strong community of families in New Westminster is at the heart of what we do, and events like this reinforce our mission. Steel and Oak shares this vision, and their partnership means so much to us. 

One of the most heartwarming sights was a group of parents forming a circle on our “lawn” with their babies, spending hours in comfort and connection. It brings us immense joy to provide a space where parents feel included and at ease during such celebrations. 

Why We Joined Steel and Oak’s 10th Anniversary Celebration 

Our relationship with Steel and Oak has grown over the years. Last year, they chose us as their spring charity, donating a percentage of every drink sold in their tasting room to support Family Place programming. Their support has been invaluable, and we are proud to maintain a strong, community-focused partnership with them. 

 As neighbors on the New West Quay, Steel and Oak have shown their dedication to community support in numerous ways. We are grateful for their thoughtful and community-minded crew, who continually help us in our mission to support families. 

Opportunities for family fun at community celebrations foster positive connections, which are crucial for the healthy development of growing minds. These experiences strengthen family bonds, providing a supportive environment for children to thrive. For parents, especially those navigating big life transitions, these events offer stress relief and a sense of community, enhancing overall well-being. Ultimately, such connections contribute to a happier, healthier family dynamic. 

Highlight of the Day 

One memorable moment was when a parent who works for the BC Minister of Housing thanked us for supporting housing through our paper bag house craft. It was a touching reminder of the broader impact our activities can have and the connections we build within our community. 

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who joined us at Steel and Oak’s 10th Anniversary celebration. Your presence and participation made the day special. We look forward to more opportunities to connect, play, and grow together as a community. 

Stay tuned for more events and activities from New Westminster Family Place out in the streets. Together, we continue to build a vibrant, supportive community for all families in New Westminster. 

Empowering Families with Social Venture Partners: A Game-Changing Journey

At New Westminster Family Place, we are ecstatic to share the remarkable impact of our partnership with Social Venture Partners (SVP) Vancouver. Their unwavering support has been instrumental in our mission to bring our services directly into the community through the innovative Bringing New West Family Place to the Streets initiative.

SVP Executive Director, Helen Stortini introduces the discussion panelists: Meghan Neufeld, Executive Director of BabyGoRound, Marnie Goldenberg, Senior Director of Programs at Take a Hike Youth Mental Health Foundation, our own Dana Osiowy, Executive Director of New Westminster Family Place, and Sara Jane R. Walker, Senior Manager, Communications at LDS Learn. Develop. Succeed.

Our Executive Director, Dana Osiowy, recently had the opportunity to showcase our heartwarming story on a discussion panel at the Social Venture Partners Annual General Meeting at Van Dusen Gardens. She spoke alongside partners from Baby-go-Round, and LDS and also from Take a Hike Foundation – all SVP investees. Dana shared inspiring anecdotes highlighting our staff’s relentless dedication to supporting families during our programs, ultimately nurturing caregivers and bolstering their confidence.

What sets us apart at New Westminster Family Place is our unwavering belief in a strength-based approach that empowers families and fosters resilience. We are steadfast in our commitment to infusing this approach into the community, fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for all families.

Social Venture Partners Vancouver has played a pivotal role in our journey, not only providing critical funding through their Early Years Innovation Fund but also empowering us to advance our mission with a new theory of change. We are immensely grateful for their partnership and unwavering dedication to our cause. Our collaborative efforts have already started to yield tangible results, making a difference in the lives of families in New Westminster.

Dana Osiowy shares stories about how our New Westminster Family Place team make a difference by going the extra mile with families during our free drop-in programming.

In addition to our groundbreaking partnership with Social Venture Partners, our Bringing New West Family Place to the Streets initiative has propelled us to new heights. Notably, our initiative included Mental Health First Aid Training for influential community members. This training aims to infuse community conversations with more sensitive and supportive language, fostering an environment of understanding and empathy.

With the unwavering support of our partners and funders and the revolutionary initiatives like the one mentioned here, we are on a transformative journey to empower families, create a nurturing environment, and foster inclusive community conversations. Together, we are shaping a brighter future for New Westminster.

Neighbourhood Small Grants: A Celebration of Community Spirit and New Projects 

New Westminster Family Place recently hosted a lively Neighbourhood Small Grant (NSG) cheque presentation party to welcome new project leaders and kick off the 2024 season. The event was a huge success, with attendees enjoying food, drinks, an art activity, and discussions on making the program inclusive. Many shared how connected and warm the event felt, creating great momentum for the year ahead. 

Administering the NSG program is a key part of New Westminster Family Place’s mission to build a strong, connected community. By supporting residents in creating their own initiatives, we foster a sense of belonging and strengthen our local networks for young families and across New Westminster. 

Applications for the NSG program poured in during April, showcasing a wonderful variety of projects. We are especially excited to see participation from multiple generations and diverse cultural backgrounds this year with over 80 projects happening between now and the fall season. This rich diversity reflects the vibrant and inclusive community spirit we strive to promote in New Westminster. 

Neighbourhood Small Grant Summit: Sharing Stories and Building Connections 

On June 7th, the Neighbourhood Small Grant Summit was held at the Inn at the Quay, bringing together project leaders from various communities from as far away as Vancouver Island. Participants shared stories about their projects and the profound impacts on their communities and their lives as project leaders. We heard from passionate individuals about the big differences that a small fund can make in building confidence and connecting people through Head, Heart, and Hands. 

The event featured inspiring hosts, including our own Dana Osiowy, who led a walk along the Quay with a fun stop at Family Place. The summit was opened by Niis Miou, a repeat Vancouver project leader and a two-spirit member of the Nisgaa nation. Niis Miou shared stories of protocol, emphasizing the importance of introducing oneself as a relational gift to others. They highlighted how “to belong is to share your presence, that you’re here. Stand up and let your presence be known!” 

Announcing the 2024 New Westminster Neighbourhood Small Grant Recipients! 

Here’s a list of the fantastic projects that have received grants this year: 

  • Carolyn Armanini: Block Party 
  • Donabelle Goyengko: Five-year anniversary of the “Rockstars of Queensborough” painted rock garden event 
  • Cindy Blaison: The 2024 Ninth Street Gathering 
  • Louise Cournoyer: COMPASS: Live Rehearsal Workshop 
  • Jessica Roca Muncaster: Halloween celebration for newcomers from Peru 
  • Edward Dela Luna: Friendship Club Board Gaming at the River Market 
  • Stephen Gbongon: Sport Day at the Conevy 
  • Thomas Ciprian: Tomapalooza 2024 
  • Melinda Michael: Northbank Block Party 
  • Tina Fan: New Westminster connection and block party for mamas and babies 
  • Teri Pittman: Pizza Party for Single Moms 
  • Ashley Sotoodeh: International finger foods 
  • Sarah Elder: Postpartum reunion 
  • Susannah Fradley: New Westminster Townhall 
  • Adriana Grillo: Planting, growing, and harvesting 
  • Nikki Pataracchia: Postpartum Support Group 
  • PengLing He: Professional Photography Workshop 
  • Maki Cairns: Building Community & Experiencing History through Films 
  • Kelly Cannon: New West Pickleball Picnic and Playday 
  • Elizabeth Alvarez Alfaro: Latin American Heritage Fiesta 
  • Andres Diaz: Kids, Karaoke & Kilos of fun 
  • Selamawit Hagos: Financial awareness and consumer rights 
  • Z Deres Secondary School: Celebrating Habesha culture 
  • Mary Chan: Plant It Forward 
  • Lorena Gutierrez Sanchez: Latin American cooking classes for all ages 
  • YE WINT KO: Moody Park Aliens 
  • Shelley Brown: Connaught Heights Carnival 
  • Elizabeth Cottam: Burnaby Block BBQ #3! 
  • Rob Hughes: Pride Hoedown 
  • Kathryn Chan: Queensborough Sewing Group 
  • Teresa Rehman: Workshops to improve service for local community leaders and workers 
  • Mahalakshmi Muthaiya: A Day with South Indian Cuisine 
  • Kyle Davison: Fifth Street BBQ 
  • Mary Sosa: Little box of surprises “Matthew & Christopher” 
  • Jennifer Moreau: Discovery Reach social/potluck 
  • Jonathan Baylis: Jazz Night in the West End 
  • Heather Boersma: Block party to celebrate new pollinator pasture 
  • Deisy Maritza Ospina: Macrame and dancing at The Brockton 
  • Prachi Singh: Mind Renewal: A holistic detox workshop for two days of one hour each 
  • Jaqueline Brower: The great golden pine cone hunt 
  • Sawsan Hamie: Thanksgiving gathering 
  • Sally Lau: Art project 
  • Joshua Pablo: 11th Street Block Party 
  • Bob Petrusa: Being kind to the neighborhood 
  • Leila Askarzadeh Mazraeh: Summer get-together 
  • Yasaman Khosronia: Glenbrook Ravine Restoration Project 
  • Julie Carr: Merge 
  • Weili Meng: Celebrate the moon festival 
  • Ross Morris: Argyle Street Fall Harvest Block Party 
  • Jodi Harbour: Hamilton Street Holiday Decoration Event 
  • Grace Steyn: Qayqayt Spring Family Event 
  • Amber Orchard: 4th Street Block Party 
  • Nancy Sinclair: Canada Day Breakfast 2024 
  • Quayside Voices: Songs off Quayside 
  • Gerald Sommers: Garrett Street 2024 Block Party 
  • Clarissa Banos: When You Sing: A Special Mother’s Day Celebration for every caregiver of children 
  • Manisha Rajora: 200 Block Celebration 
  • Robert Granewall: Lido Strata know your neighbour barbecue 
  • Jae-Oak Fouquette: StrataBCS 2925 
  • Giovanna Ciprian: NW Book Club 
  • Ruby Campbell and Johanna Bartels: 12th Street Jane’s Walk & Foodie Tour 
  • Eleanor V Sotto: Flower arrangement 
  • Rosa Rivera: Latin Community Integration 2024 
  • Jiayi Li: Seniors Block Party 
  • Rose Xu: Rose’s cooking, gardening, and tea project 
  • Baiying Zhang: English Story Time 
  • Meaghen Taylor-Reid: Kelly Street Gardens 
  • Fengxian Ma: Neighborhood Gardening and Planting Exchange 
  • Gary Lake: The Queensborough Knitting Club to make hats and lap blankets for Seniors Care home 
  • Craig Thompson: Gardens 4 Kids 
  • Nina Priddle: Osborne Avenue Block Party 
  • Wang Shiping: Enjoy Art and Nature—Outdoor Sketching 
  • Jennifer Baetz: Little Rabbits Gardening 
  • Nagham Najm: Community Cooking Classes – Multi-Cultural 
  • Sanju Sanju: Traditional Henna & Indian food by Sanju 
  • Eryn Collins: Brow of the Hill Spring Gathering 2024 
  • Jennifer Orellana: Seminar: Making your home more energy efficient 
  • Pamela Morgan: Rock the Block 
  • Cathy Lawrence: Little Library 
  • Yue Chin Lai: Lookout Community Garden 
  • Essey Teckle: Movie Night 
  • Sophia Donschenko: Beginner Crocheting Class 
  • Pedro Soares: New West Skate Jam + BBQ 
  • Megan Campbell: Birthday in a Box 
  • Destiny Hopkins: Cake Decorating Class 

We are excited to see these projects come to life and encourage everyone in the community to join in and support these wonderful initiatives. Here’s to a fantastic 2024 season!  Thank you to Mark Strathern for the event photos, and to the Vancouver Foundation and the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC for all of your program funding and support!

Otterly Amazing Fun at the Təməsew̓txʷ Grand Opening

The atmosphere was electric as families and community members gathered to explore the new aquatic and community center. We were we were honored to be a part of this exciting milestone and practice our values of love, community and celebration with you all! The Təməsew̓txʷ (learn how to pronounce it here) Aquatic and Community Centre, named in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language for “sea otter house”, embodies the playfulness, joyfulness, and family-oriented nature of the sea otter in its design and opportunities for our community. The facility is not just about fitness and amenities; it’s about creating a space where everyone can come together, connect, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Making a Splash with Families

At the event, Dana and Lizzie offered fun activities for the younger set while sharing the great work we do in supporting families and advocating for their needs. We were thrilled to connect with 385 community members at this event and celebrate this major milestone for New Westminster. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our amazing volunteers who helped us celebrate by preparing sea otter crowns for decoration which were a huge hit with the children! Your creativity and hard work added an extra layer of joy to the day.

Join Us in Celebrating

As we look forward to many years of swimming, fitness, and community togetherness at the Təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre, we invite everyone to join us in celebrating this cornerstone for community. We are also looking forward to more opportunities to celebrate this exceptional community in June and can’t wait to see you there.

A first for New Westminster: Tigrinya Storytime

New Westminster Family Place is delighted to announce a significant moment of community empowerment: in collaboration with the New West Public Library, we successfully hosted the inaugural Tigrinya Storytime in New West in May, 2024.

Tigrinya is a language spoken in the Tigre region of Northern Ethiopia and in Eritrea. New Westminster has seen a great uptick in newcomers from these countries: 13.3% of our newcomers in 2021 came from Africa.

Our dedicated Aida Abdelkadir leads the Storytime drop-in sessions under the mentorship of Muktar from DiverseCity BC, whose Tigrinya storytimes at the Guilford Library in Surrey have been a source of inspiration. Together, they are not only enriching our library’s collection but also fostering a sense of belonging for newcomers from Eritrea and Ethiopia.

This milestone highlights the strength of unity and the power of inclusion. We are deeply grateful for the support of our community and look forward to continuing this journey of cultural celebration and mutual understanding. 

Interested in joining our next Tigrinya Storytime? Please visit us at the New West Public Library on Monday, June 3, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.