Food security remains an issue on the North Shore
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In good times, we can often overlook the most vulnerable people in our community, but COVID has brought their needs to the forefront of our minds and our hearts.
In early April 2020, Enhance West Van responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and the needs of North Shore families who were struggling to put food on their table. Now, almost a year later, we are hearing from the community on just how crucial this support has been and how essential it is to their future wellbeing. See our testimonials below.
In my time as a Youth Outreach Worker with the District of West Vancouver, I have had the opportunity to support many youth and families in their time of need. It would be an understatement to say that I have been impressed by their courage and determination to overcome difficult circumstances; I have been entirely humbled by it. Seeing a family of 4 quietly managing in a one bedroom apartment, or a youth torn from his home by an eviction notice, leaving him in one shelter and his mother in another, or two young siblings suffering from neglect and constant hunger within a multi-million dollar home. There are just too many examples to site. And yet the myriad presentations of mental health, addiction, poverty and family break-down, while they exist everywhere, often go undetected within the tree-lined affluent streets of West Vancouver.
As we all know these are complex issues and societies the world over grapple with how best to support their vulnerable populations, now more so than ever due to the Pandemic. It is a testament to your depth of understanding, as a Society, that you make it a priority to provide relief to those affected within the West Vancouver Community, with your Food Security Program. Though it’s difficult to capture this impact statistically, our Youth Outreach Team sees first hand the difference this program makes. How does one measure the relief a mother feels knowing she can make her kids healthy nutritious meals? How does one quantify the sleep a youth gets in his own bed, after your grocery subsidy allowed his family to pay rent, and therefore remain housed? These gifts are invaluable. Your efforts in this area are life changing.
Our team works every day to ensure youth clients and their families feel connected to the community, and know that they are cared for and valued. As a result of your efforts and compassion, this message comes through in spades.
With gratitude (and on behalf of our Outreach Team),
Jan (Youth Outreach Worker)
I’m a step-grandmother raising two indigenous youth. The kids have been with me since they were toddlers. They are wonderful young people, though they have suffered significant trauma, as a result of their mother’s mental health, abuse, addiction and poverty.
Their indigenous ancestry is not from one of our local bands/nations, so there is no funding for them unless they return to their territory –which is far away in another province. I make sure they have a good understanding of their indigenous history, and enjoy good relationships with their band family, aunties and cousins. But unfortunately the environment there is not always a healthy one, so I want them to stay with me, stay in school, and stay safe.
I have a pension, as I was a teacher, and therefore consider myself fortunate. I can pay our rent and expenses…usually. But I’m very proud so it’s hard for me to admit to anyone how hard it’s been to raise the kids, with little means. Rent keeps going up, and I’m tired. It’s very tiring when you live with constant financial strain. Sometimes the feelings of stress and panic are very bad.
My grandkids both held part time jobs from the time they were young teens, and helped me with monthly expenses, so we could make ends meet. They are such good kids, and we are very close.
But it’s not easy for us, currently. Since Covid began, the kids have both been laid off from their jobs, and things have gotten much more difficult for me, on a fixed income. None of us qualified for the government Covid funding subsidies.
We do take hand-me-downs for clothing, or shop at the thrift stores, and we do go to the Food Bank, when we can make it there. There is also Quest, the discount grocery store, but it’s far to get there, and transportation is expensive. But we are used to living this way.
The giftcards we have received have helped us to stay above water. I don’t even want to think about what we would have done without that help. We might well have become homeless, because I would have been short on the rent. I want to say thank you, but the words don’t show how deeply I appreciate this support. It really does take a village to raise children.