London Community Foundation's 2019
COMMUNITY VITALITY CELEBRATION
Indwell is a Hamilton-based, Christian charity focused on creating affordable housing communities. Already successfully expanding into Woodstock and Simcoe, Indwell seeks to make their model one that can be replicated throughout the province.
“We moved into London in the summer of 2019 and opened our first 67-unit building at 356 Dundas,” says Julie Ryan, Fundraising and Community Coordinator for Indwell in London. “In spring 2020 we plan to break ground on a building at 744 Dundas that will welcome 75 tenants by the end of 2021.”
By establishing their first regional office outside of Hamilton in London, Indwell will supplement their affordable housing projects in the City with programs that support the needs of their tenants. Hot meals and food security training, community spaces for shared meals and activities, and secure storage space for bicycles and scooters will be available for all tenants. Peer and volunteer support will also play an integral role in building a community full of hope.
“Creating a community where people know they have a permanent, safe place to live, where they feel like they belong, is really important to both mental and physical health,” says Ryan. “We believe that we can offer hope to people who may have lost it, or who are on a journey to get it back in their lives.”
A home is so much more than just four walls – it’s about fostering a sense of belonging. Organizations like Indwell, who embrace the challenge, are true bastions of hope for all of London and Middlesex.
The Yazidi people are an ethnic and religious minority whose traditional lands straddle the Iraq-Syria border and who have been persecuted for centuries by radical religious fundamentalists in the Middle-East. The intergenerational trauma and decades of violence have forced many Yazidis to leave their homes, becoming refugees. It is estimated that Canada has welcomed over 1200 Yazidis, and their unique culture and belief system combined with severe cases of post-traumatic stress has made it difficult for many to access vital support systems.
The London Cross Cultural Learner Centre (LCCLC) will partner with Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre, and the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Western University for the Yazidi Refugee Mental Health Peer Support Program.
“We are talking about a culture that's been under attack for centuries,” says Valerian Marochko, Executive Director of the LCCLC. “They prefer a more community approach to receiving services, rather than an individualistic approach, and peer support emerged as the best pathway for them to get integrated and served according to their needs.”
Members of the Yazidi community will be trained as peer support leaders to facilitate group counselling sessions, an approach to mental health support that takes culture into account.
“It is not easy to apply a concept or a structure that we normally use to a newly arrived population,” says Marochko.” We have to adapt that service in terms of the people who use it because otherwise they would not access that service. We have to provide equitable access to service to everyone.”
This initiative serves some of the most vulnerable individuals and families living in London and Middlesex in a way that’s meaningful and effective for them. The LCCLC and their partners are doing amazing work both championing the need for adaptive services and demonstrating how effective it is.
ReForest London has been planting trees in our city for 14 years, and since 2011, has registered over 400,000 newly planted trees through the Million Tree Challenge campaign.
Since 2015, ReForest London has been working with partners to develop a flagship environmental centre for the London and Middlesex region - the Westminster Ponds Centre for Environment & Sustainability (WPC).
“This is going to be London’s very first environmental centre,” says Dean Shepphard, Executive Director of ReForest London. “Bringing together non environmental groups like builders, developers, and energy producers will be key to how our community is able to become more sustainable.”
The Centre will host a mix of activities, program partners, and tenants with a shared goal of achieving large-scale improvement in community sustainability. Facilitating open and continuous community consultation, and creating a beautiful and welcoming space demonstrating the green building technologies available, will ensure the Centre remains a valuable community resource for years to come.
“There are 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and at least half of them are related to what we’ll be doing at the Centre,” says Shepphard. “It's important to protect the environment that we have and frankly, we're doing a poor job. Things are getting worse, not better. And we need to take action now.”
With inclusion and education being core components of the WPC’s mission, London and Middlesex will gain a space to gather and learn about taking responsibility for our environment and respecting the futures of generations to come.
Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) is a non-profit focused on supporting youth in London and Middlesex by helping them access services that can allow them to return to school and enter the job market.
“We work with community partners to help young people find all the tools and resources they need to build a tool box of opportunities,” says Steve Cordes, CEO of Youth Opportunities Unlimited. “Things that will help them find success and achieve their potential.”
The YOU Housing First Youth Shelter provides temporary homes for youth and uses a Housing First model; focusing on creating a path to permanent housing rather than simply providing shelter. Outreach and Diversion workers will help youth explore their housing options and connect them to services and housing solutions. By drawing on trusted relatives or family friends identified by the youth themselves, workers support their transition from the shelter into a home.
“We know that for young people experiencing homelessness for the first time, the first 30 days of their experience is critical,” says Cordes. “That’s when you need to explore diversion opportunities. Any longer than 30 days and they start to identify themselves as being homeless and it becomes part of who they are, rather than a situation they're in.”
The Forest City Film Festival (FCFF) began three years ago, and with an extremely tight budget, has managed to nearly double its audience since. With every film screened having a connection to Southwestern Ontario (SWO), the FCFF showcases the immense talent in the region and solidifies London’s identity as the cultural hub of SWO.
FCFF projects to bring in an audience of over 5,000 people by 2021, at which point ticket sales will completely cover staffing costs. Until then, a Community Vitality Grant will allow the FCFF to hire specialized, part-time staff over the next three years. Because of this grant, the FCFF will be able to focus on the growth and expansion of their programming, which includes a Youth Film Festival and 48-hour Film Challenge, both of which made their debut at this year’s festival.
Reflected in the additions to this year’s programming, a priority for the FCFF going forward is bringing emerging filmmakers into the picture. With the Festival already featuring a host of educational, networking, and mentorship opportunities, making space for new filmmakers ensures the long-term vibrancy of the SWO film industry.
“One of the core elements of this festival is to build pride and regional audiences for the talent that we have in this area,” says Dorothy Downs, Executive Director of the Forest City Film Festival. ”And in doing so, allowing people to shine a light on the film industry and helping emerging filmmakers find their wings.”
The Forest City Film Festival has fast become a staple in our community’s arts and culture scene and continues to grow at an unbelievable rate, ensuring will continue to inspire current and future Southwestern Ontario filmmakers for years to come.
The Vital People Award recognizes and supports non-profit leaders in our community by investing in their success through professional development opportunities.
This year’s recipients are:
Chad Callander, Meals on Wheels London
Kirsti Cheese, Childreach
Vanessa Eastmure, London Regional Children’s Museum
Stephanie Field, Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario
Christine Freeman, The Sunshine Foundation
Paul Fujimoto-Pihl, The Grand Theatre
Norma-Jean Greenslade, St. Paul’s Cathedral
Olivia Langford, SARI Therapeutic Riding
Bronagh Morgan, Bereaved Families of Ontario - Southwest
Sheri Templeton, Growing Chefs Ontario
Lore Wainwright, Pillar Nonprofit Network
The RBC Future Launch Community Challenge enables youth to apply for funding to support their bold ideas to address urgent community priorities. It is an opportunity for young people to lead, learn new skills, gain experience, and build relationships in their local communities — all things that will help them prepare for the future of work.
$14,382 to Antler River Elementary School for two projects – Project Drumbeat, expanding the music program to teach students about the history of drumming and how to build and play their own drums; and Project Greenhouse, with the goal to maintain food stability by building community greenhouses
$15,000 for the Cultural Innovations project, which will combine cultural and traditional teachings with information technology.
$15,000 for YMCA Teen Nights, giving youth a safe and welcoming space to interact with peers, learn leadership skills, take on community projects, build relationships with mentors and explore what the Y has to offer, all free of charge.
$7,118 for Weaving Generations, a community initiative which will bring together youth and seniors through the use of expressive art in a safe environment, creating inter-generational relationships built on compassion, understanding, respect and empathy.
$15,000 for the Youth Club House initiative to provide a welcoming environment and space created by youth, for youth opening up possibilities for fun, educational, and collaborative experiences for youth.
The RBC Future Launch Community Challenge is supported by the RBC Foundation with additional support by the following LCF fundholders:
Butler Family Fund
Rick and Carol Richardson Family Fund
The J. Allyn Taylor Community Service Award is presented to a student who exhibits outstanding service to, and is actively involved in leadership activities in, their community. Nominees must be grade ten or eleven students attending a school located in London or Middlesex County, ON within a publicly funded school board.
Nourhan Ali is a student at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School and was nominated by the London Community Chaplaincy for her volunteer work at its Limberlost operations. Passionate about the environment and the future of the planet Nourhan single-handedly secured a recycling program for her entire complex – a monumental project for a teenager. Nourhan also assists at the summer carnival and as a Junior Leader with after school programs, modeling excellent communication skills, team building, active listening, initiative, responsibility, humour and positivity.
Italian Seniors Project – Phase 2 (London)
Home Concept Property Mgmt. (Cambridge)
$400,000, part of $800,000 consortium with Verge
Homes Unlimited (London)
Zerin Development (London)
$500,000, part of $725,000 consortium with Verge
Clairvue Cooperative Homes (Chatham)
$275,000 part of $550,000 consortium with Verge
Homes Unlimited provides safe, affordable, and accessible housing for individuals and families, offering residents an enhanced quality of life and sense of belonging. Because of their leadership and holistic approach, LCF has invested in a $1.62 million loan to support Homes Unlimited’s new affordable housing property at 99 Pond Mills Road.
Homes Unlimited is just one of 11 affordable housing projects LCF has invested in to tackle London’s housing crisis. With over $10 million available in our Social Impact Fund and over $6 million in loans already invested, primarily in the London community, we are mobilizing our community around one of its greatest needs.
A Field of Interest Fund can start with a gift of any size and helps donors target and address an issue area that they feel is important to community life with granting that lasts forever. The donors put their trust in LCF’s granting process to determine how best to disburse their funds each year.
$40,000 - Lawson Research Institute, the Fermented Foods Canada research project
$4,100 - El Sistema South, Musical instruction to youth
$4,425 - Forest Edge Community Club, Community swimming activities
$8,175 - London Public Library, Inquiring Minds for Tomorrow
$8,300 - Start2Finish Canada, Running & Reading Club Expansion in London
$8,300 - YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, YMCA Teen Nights
$877 - El Sistema South, Musical instruction to youth
$1,000 - Investing in Children, Songwriting Workshop
$8,323 - Investing in Children, Free Youth Guitar Program
$6,300 - Fridge Door Live Theatre Company, Portable Stage for Theatre Camps & Theatre Productions
$6,125 - Abilities in Motion, Adaptive Paddling Development