ISSofBC staff, clients, friends and family shared their favourite memories of living and working over three decades at Welcome House on Drake Street Wednesday before saying one final goodbye.
The facility permanently closed in March, its services having relocated to the ISSofBC Welcome Centre at 2610 Victoria Drive.
The One Last Visit event included photos and timeline displays, tours and speeches from former residents including Michel Uwimana, a refugee of the Democratic Republic of Congo who left Welcome House in February of this year with his wife and one-year-old son.
“This place was very beautiful to me, I wanted not even to move out of this place, because I could visit a staff member of ISSofBC where I could get all of my information,” said Uwimana.
ISSofBC Director of Settlement Services Chris Friesen , who worked in Welcome House for over two decades said the facility represents a fresh start for over 25,000 government-assisted refugees.
“When you look out over the past thirty years, and you look at the various world crises in the various parts of the world … it’s reflected in those that enter this building from the airport, those that had their opportunity to rebuild their lives in this country as future Canadians got their start within these four walls.”
Attendees of the visit also shared favourite memories of the Welcome House written on a wall near the entrance of the facility. The messages included “meeting wonderful people”, “I met the love of my life at Drake,” and “what a place – I call home Welcome House.”
A special thank you to all those who put together this wonderful event.
ISSofBC received the Mayor’s Achievement Award Tuesday during the annual Vancouver Awards of Excellence recognizing outstanding achievements made by individuals – adults, youth, and children – and organizations.
The Mayor’s Achievement Award acknowledges remarkable dedication to improving the quality of life for the citizens of Vancouver.
ISSofBC won the award for “welcoming newcomers of all stripes and with the most diverse needs. Innovating and retooling as required, ISSofBC aims to effectively respond to the ever-evolving needs of immigrants from different parts of the world,” stated a City of Vancouver press release.
“We are very honoured to receive this prestigious award. The Mayor’s Achievement Award recognizes our work within the city and is especially meaningful as it is Mayor Gregor Robertson who made the selection,” said ISSofBC CEO Patrica Woroch.
ISSofBC Board of Directors President Jim Tallman, Treasurer Nicolas Lozovsky and Member-at-Large Jack Wong along with CEO Patricia Woroch and Director of Settlement Services Chris Friesen accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
The awards, which took place at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, included five categories: accessible city, greenest city leadership, civic volunteer, diversity and inclusion, and healthy city for all in addition to the Mayor’s Achievement Award.
Envisioning Labs, a Vancouver company offering innovation training, has a new plan to bring together ISSofBC clients and organizations looking to train a staff member in innovation strategies.
CEO Oscar Malpica has been leading Design Thinking learning experiences for several years and hopes to offer this to ISSofBC Employer Partners. Whenever an organization registers an employee for the five-day learning opportunity, he’ll also provide the instruction to four ISSofBC internationally-trained professionals. Together, the five will learn systematic innovation strategies to provide a product or service to meet Employer Partner needs.
This opportunity is a way for Employer Partners to gain experience in innovation methodology training at the same time as assisting newcomers who often struggle with years of under-employment.
The service offers a win-win: employers get innovation training and also provide it for four newcomers. As the newcomers work on innovation challenges, they gain work experience and Employer Partners get a chance to preview the work of potential new hires.
Or maybe they simply participate in an experience that aims to reduce underemployment of highly-skilled newcomers.
Either way, the innovation training service is an example of innovation in its own right.
Please click above online presentation for more details and videos or email ISSofBC Employer Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISSofBC celebrated the dedication of its 1,600 volunteers in Vancouver and Richmond yesterday with an authentic Syrian dinner prepared by Tayybeh–a food company run by recently arrived Syrian women refugees.
Close to 100 volunteers, staff and ISSofBC Board of Directors joined the festivities which included networking activities, recognition speeches and a poetry and dance performance.
In 2016, volunteers in Vancouver and Richmond supported ISSofBC in over 30 positions including housing search assistants, interpreters, field trip coordinators, classroom assistants and more.
Other ISSofBC locations across Metro Vancouver will also celebrate the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteers with special events including in New Westminster Friday, February 24.
Tayybeh is an organization that supports Syrian women in Vancouver by organizing community based dinning experiences. By showcasing authentic dishes from their hometowns in Syria, the women of Tayybeh have access to an income and financial independence.
A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers for your continued support in helping newcomers build a future in Canada!