Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Dedicated chef of Morning Star breakfast program honoured with national award

BY DR. RICHARD BERWICK

The early morning crew is ready to spring into action. Photo by Richard Berwick

The early morning crew is ready to spring into action. Photos by Richard Berwick

It’s tough to find cooks with engaging personalities and Canada-wide reputations, working hard hours at community venues like Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH). We have one at the Collingwood Saturday Breakfast Program and her name is Nafisa.

Nafisa Sultana arrived in Canada from Bangladesh in February 2009. She found her way to our kitchen five years ago, three years after I started scrambling eggs and washing dishes with other volunteers for the Saturday Breakfast Program in 2008.

Not your typical chef

In our work with a largely homeless or home-challenged group of regulars – of all ages and many ethnic backgrounds – we found in Nafisa a professional chef capable of organizing all the details of a successful program: food purchasing and storage, thoughtful preparation of balanced meals, guidance for the volunteers who range from high schoolers to the people of the diverse communities that comprise the staff and public of CNH.

From left, Maria (Philippines), Nafisa (Bangladesh), Taeko (Japan) ready to serve the cobbler.

From left, Maria (from the Philippines), Nafisa (Bangladesh) and Taeko (Japan) are ready to serve the cobbler.

On any given Saturday, you’ll find the jam-packed kitchen filled with volunteer galley hands with ethnic origins, and past lives, in Bangladesh (that’s Nafisa!), the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, India, Kazakhstan, Korea, Canada and the U.S.

I’ve watched Nafisa move in her career seamlessly from refugee to resident, from hard labour at Pizza Hut, to cook and then chef at New Hope Community Services Society in Surrey and at Langara College – all the while earning her culinary arts degree at Vancouver Community College.

These have been difficult simultaneous commitments, but the extraordinary challenge that Nafisa counts as the work she treasures, above all else, is walking into our kitchen at 5:30 in the morning every Saturday and getting meals – breakfast and lunches – out to anywhere between 50 and 80 hungry people.

Not your typical Saturday

Here’s what it looked like in the kitchen on this particular early fall Saturday morning:

I arrive at the kitchen about 6:30 am, about an hour after Nafisa and Chris have lit the boilers and cranked up the ancient oven with a pilot light that works when you don’t look at it (I exaggerate, slightly). Nafisa, Chris and Viktoriya (last resident in Kazakhstan), are hard at work on the bag lunches, washing veggies, digging out the big fry pans that work well when the grill goes to sleep, as it did today.

Nafisa sees me step into her kitchen, gives me the usual bear hug through all of my guilty lateness and sharpens a couple of knives for me to chop the onions, peppers and tomatoes, and then to make a marinade for the omelets.

Advice from Nafisa: “If you use that cleaver, you’ll get the liquid over everything.” She’s right, of course. I can only bristle in my amateur-cookness. The sausages are burning in the oven, but only a little.

Volunteers file in and do the basics of breakfast: slicing loaves for toast, putting out the milk and juice, the peanut butter and margarine and jam, getting coffee out to the folks waiting for the call to come and pick up their breakfast plates – omelets, sausage, pilaf, fruit, apple cobbler for dessert, breakfast cereals on the side.

When it’s all over, we hear the occasional review from departing clients: “Thanks for everything. Eggs were a little hard.” “God bless.” And so it goes. Nafisa stands back to watch her kitchen run like a clock going backwards, dishes collected and washed, tables cleared, some of the men lingering quietly at their tables wanting to chat a bit about their week.

Nafisa is coming into her own professionally as first-rate Canadian chef, and will be honoured on November 2 in Toronto with the 2016 Be-a-Star (all-Canada outstanding chef) award from Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services for her work at Langara College. But she is at home with us at Collingwood for the long run, always with an astonishing well of energy on Saturday morning.

Dr. Richard Berwick is a volunteer with the Saturday Breakfast Program at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Picnic, popcorn and movie at Gaston Park, June 17

Family fun on June 17, 7 pm, at Gaston Park

BY BLISS ZUNIGA-RODGERS

Picnic and Movie at Gaston Park

Bring the family out to the picnic and movie at Gaston Park. Photo courtesy of Collingwood CommunityPolicing Centre

Food, fun and a free movie – what a dynamic combination to kick off summer!

On Friday, June 17 starting around 7 pm all are invited to gather at Gaston Park (Euclid Avenue near Joyce Street) and bring a picnic for yourself, your friend or your family and meet your neighbours. Dinner will be followed by games for the kids and then, once the sun sets, a free movie complete with free popcorn.

The event was sparked in part by Victor Toh, who is the chair of the Collingwood Neighbourhood School Parent Advisory Council. He wants his son to go to school in the kind of a neighbourhood where people stop to talk to each other.

At a recent idea jam, Victor Toh, Collingwood Neighbourhood School vice-principal Joel Levine and Collingwood Neighbourhood House executive director Jennifer Gray-Grant were discussing ways to increase community connectedness. The idea of a picnic in the park evolved into a picnic, games and movie night, which they hoped would draw even more people to take part.

“We’re pulling our school’s annual movie night from the school into the park,” Toh said. That way, they can help build connections between different facets of the community such as parents and students, community members and organizations, and the school and the wider community.

The Collingwood Community Policing Centre (CCPC) joined the group to offer one of its movie-in-a-park nights to coincide with the picnic. Collingwood Housing Co-op joined as a partner and then the Collingwood Branch of the Vancouver Public Library offered to do a pop-up library at the event.

Toh and a friend received a Neighbourhood Small Grant to cover the cost of posters to advertise the event, water bottles for attendees and prizes for the games for the children. The CCPC will provide the free popcorn. Toh and a friend have also organized music while Renfrew-Collingwood INTERactive will run the games.

Toh said they have made new community connections. “It’s about helping kids and families.” Toh would like the neighbourhood where his son goes to school to be seen as a place beyond just a series of houses and apartments. “I want people to know they’re in a neighbourhood where everyone helps support each other and is a part of something.”

There are other benefits as well, according to CCPC’s Partap Sahota. “The stronger the community and the more people that get involved, the less crime there is. Getting to know your neighbours is the best form of crime prevention.”

The CCPC looks beyond the stereotypes of the role of police, to the role of friendly neighbours in building safe communities. When neighbours know each other, they will look out for each other, for example, by checking up on their houses when they are away.

Joel Levine of Collingwood Community School hopes that events like this one will connect his students to their neighbourhood so that they take more ownership and initiative towards improving it. He’s also glad to have an opportunity to plan a fun, family event.

All are invited to join the fun at Gaston Park on Friday, June 17 starting at 7 pm. Just bring a picnic, a blanket or chairs and a something to keep you warm as the sun goes down and the family-oriented movie starts.


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New Community Heritage Committee seeks RC memorabilia

BY PAUL REID

Lil-MissesThe new Renfrew-Collingwood Heritage Committee is ready to carefully borrow, document, reproduce and return your historical photos (and other small mementos) of Renfrew-Collingwood.

Working with advice from the Vancouver Archives and the Museum of Vancouver, the committee has created the forms that will enable the residents and former residents of RC to submit items for inclusion in a Renfrew-Collingwood historical collection. You can also have your items forwarded to the Vancouver Archives for consideration in its collection.

This new initiative of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) was inspired by the lifelong work of local historians Sadie Gaston and her nieces Bobbi Senft and Jackie McHugh. To these three, our hats will forever be off for working so diligently to preserve our past for us in their extensive collection.

With all three now departed, the torch of officially seeking out and preserving Renfrew-Collingwood history has been passed to the rest of us through this new entity, the Renfrew-Collingwood Heritage Committee.

If you have something to be documented or that you would like to donate, please contact the committee through CNH at 604-435-0323.

Baseball-league

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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January 2016 issue of RCC News is here

Happy new year!

2016’s first issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

January 2016 RCC NewsGet your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Harvey’s closing after 88 years
  • Collingwood Neighbourhood House Recreation Programs – special insert
  • Recovering Still Creek: Youth environment initiatives
  • Local youth Peggy Lam and Crecien Bencio win awards
  • Making a good first impression: Expert tips to sell your home
  • Food farewells and greetings from the food security team
  • Join the Joyce Area Residents Association

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the February 2016 issue is January 10. You are welcome to submit a story from 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.


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December 2015 issue of RCC News is here

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

RCC News December 2015Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Indulge in the beauty of a Seabus trip this holiday season, by John Mendoza
  • Lilian Broca at Il Museo
  • Christmas memories from 60 years ago
  • Artisans Village Market, December 5
  • Read On’s Who Is Santa Claus?
  • Santa poems by Julien Duan
  • Neighbours by Robert F. Edwards
  • Great gifts for book lovers by Taya Lawton, Renfrew Library
  • Holiday celebrations at Collingwood Neighbourhood House

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the January 2016 issue is December 10. You are welcome to submit a story from 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.


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June 2015 issue of RCC News is here

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

June 2015 RCC NewsGet your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • CNH and MOSAIC groundbreaking
  • Anne Frank exhibit comes to Collingwood
  • RC teen has a voice in Ottawa on how to celebrate Canada’s 150th
  • Beaconsfield celebrates 100 years
  • Too cute department: Happy Father’s Day from kids’ writing class
  • Youth Celebrate Canada Day
  • Create Your Canada contest winners

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the July 2015 issue is June 10. You are welcome to submit a story from 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.


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Meet Diana! An INTERactive connector

BY ANNIE LAI

Diana, an INTERactive connector

INTERactive connector Diana. Photo by Brenda Zeimer

Through my own volunteer work with INTERactive, I’ve met some inspirational, dedicated individuals in the Renfrew-Collingwood community—people who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Fortunately, I was able to meet with Di (Diana) Dyck: A lady who puts a tonne of effort into her volunteer work, despite challenges she faces due to a disability. But that doesn’t stop her. What caught my attention was the fact that Di was even able to communicate with another person who does not speak her language.

Di has lived in Renfrew-Collingwood for several years and has been an INTERactive connector for over a year, dedicating her spare time to helping Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH). She was originally referred to INTERactive by Sterling James, a member of the INTERactive Community Partners Circle who describes her as a “social butterfly.”

“What I like about the community is that it is safe and full of friendly people,” Di says. She reaches out by talking with new people, and starting conversations about opportunities through CNH and other agencies and community groups. From approaching businesses to providing information pamphlets, Di truly values the importance of getting to know and build a connection with other community members.

In her spare time, Di also enjoys baking cookies and going for walks around the neighbourhood. She has met many new friends, and has increased self-confidence through her volunteer experience. Di has built upon new skills which she’ll carry with her, throughout life.

Annie Lai is a grade 12 student currently enrolled in the Leadership Mini School Program at Windermere Secondary and is involved with INTERactive as a connector. Her passions include volunteering and planning events in the community, working with social media and watching documentaries.

Copyright (c) 2015 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News