Feeling at Home in Marpole
By Zahra Esmail, February 21 2018
A New Neighbourhood House - Feeling at Home in Marpole
The beauty of a neighbourhood house is that it is not a cookie-cutter program or service; each and every neighbourhood house reflects the unique characteristics of the neighbourhood in which it is located. As the Executive Director of South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH), I am thrilled and honoured to be involved in the development of a new Marpole Neighbourhood House. Our challenge is great as the new Marpole Neighbourhood House is stemming from a lot of history.
Marpole Place was a neighbourhood house that operated out of the old Firehall in Marpole for many years, until a flood destroyed the Firehall building around four years ago. Since then, the community in Marpole has been without a dedicated gathering space or targetted neighbourhood house programs. The City of Vancouver released a Request for Proposals in April 2016 looking for an organization to operate a renovated Firehall building. The Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC) applied and was selected as the new operator, and SVNH took the reins as the lead implementation agency to start up the new neighbourhood house at 1305 West 70th Avenue in Marpole.
Our vision for Marpole Neighbourhood House (MNH) is to have a vibrant space that is the “living room” of the community. We anticipate that MNH will function as classic “neighbourhood house” that welcomes people in to an inclusive hub for programs and services, and reaches out to include those who experience heightened social isolation. We envision that an active volunteer team will help with program delivery, social connections and community engagement. Our model intentionally builds on neighbourhood and community assets, and what MNH actually becomes will depend on the engagement, leadership, and needs of Marpole residents.
We intend to be listeners and learners so that MNH can be designed to truly meet the needs of neighbours in Marpole. Our team has knowledge about neighbourhood houses and we will learn from what has worked / hasn’t worked at SVNH. But we truly look forward to learning from you and working with you to build a neighbourhood house in Marpole that belongs to you - the people of Marpole.