Essential Aid, a Hamilton organization focused on nutrition for children under four, is filling a critical gap in the food bank system by stocking a wide range of infant formulas.
The nutrition needs of infants are unique and many formula-fed infants can’t tolerate a change. Traditional food banks are unable to provide a selection of formula as it is expensive and product donations are difficult to acquire. By offering multiple formulas, Essential Aid assists families in immediate need – no proof of income is required as the organization believes that an emergency can happen to anyone. The infant food bank is seeing an ever-increasing demand; HCF’s grant will help to meet the needs of an average 200 children monthly.
Essential Aid also offers a breastfeeding support program which provides education, one-on-one support from a volunteer nurse and supplies. Last year, the organization provided emergency formula, diapers and breastfeeding equipment to 1,765 children, many of whose families were referred by other local food banks.
Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter
ABACUS is HCF’s initiative to improve graduation and post-secondary access rates by focusing on students in the middle-school years. To support the critical role of teachers in this goal, Hamilton Community Foundation launched a new small grants program – up to $500 – for Grade 6, 7 and 8 teachers to provide enrichment activities that support overall ABACUS objectives.
Including exciting ventures like a hands-on opportunity to design, test and build pneumatic and hydraulic systems, to experiencing pre-1850 Canadian history at Battlefield Park, to publishing a student-produced community newspaper, the first round drew almost 70 applications from teachers across the city, reflecting a wide range of projects that share an academic focus and a goal to improve student achievement.
Teachers take note: the next application deadline for ABACUS Teacher Grants is March 1, 2017. Check it out at ABACUSatHCF.ca
Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter
A new program at the Ellen Osler Home in Dundas is helping women ease back into the community, before, during and after their release from serving a federal sentence.
Supported by an HCF grant, the program provides “in-reach” staff who accompany and assist the women during stressful times such as parole board hearings, and the transition to Ellen Osler which can happen on short notice. Once they arrive at the home, it supports a smoother transition in practical ways, such as helping to pay for transportation to work commitments or reconnecting with family. It also enables the women to participate in community activities – recreational classes for example – that help them build stronger relationships and support beyond their involvement with the correctional system.
Excerpt from the 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter
Positive spaces, leadership training and employment preparation are giving youth in priority neighbourhoods a leg up through the HCF-supported Growing Youth Leaders project.
The project is a partnership between the City of Hamilton’s recreation division and Riverdale and McQuesten neighbourhood residents and community development workers. The goal is to provide local youth with the necessary experience and skills to gain employment including recreational programming and leadership training and certification.
Research from the Social Planning & Research Council underscores the importance of this project: youth is Hamilton’s fastest growing population, but many face issues associated with poverty including not completing high school and longer-term unemployment. Job training, experience and opportunities help to address these risks.
Thirty-five hours of instruction including first-aid training, employment readiness and principles of healthy child development are designed to introduce youth to jobs in recreation and to build new skills. Participants have the opportunity to volunteer in a City of Hamilton rec centre, and all program graduates of are guaranteed an interview for paid recreation positions with the City.
Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter
An HCF grant is striking a chord in support of Sinfonia Ancaster’s inaugural concert season and orchestral programming.
Sinfonia Ancaster was born out of the music department program at Redeemer University and is now a part of the Ancaster Society of Performing Arts. The orchestra, consisting of 35 professional and emerging musicians, including students, performs a diverse and rich repertoire. It also serves as a mentoring program for young musicians who learn and develop their skills with guidance from professional musicians. Two priorities for the orchestra are to feature local talent as soloists and to present performances jointly with other community groups.
Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter
A diagnosis of serious illness in the family can be devastating – and especially to children. Wellwood Resource Centre is lightening the burden for families in these situations.
With support from an HCF grant, Wellwood is expanding its Kids’ Program which offers practical assistance like door-to-door transportation to its facilities where it provides meals (which the kids help to prepare) and help with homework. Parents also benefit from this kind of support which provides relief and predictability. More than half of Kids’ Program participants live in Hamilton’s priority neighbourhoods.
Emotional and psychological well-being are crucial for young children in these scenarios. Serious illness can touch any family and this program goes a long way to ensure that children in these situations do not feel isolated or overwhelmed.
Excerpt from Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter
Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing Inc.
A loan from HCF to Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing Inc. is enabling the organization to buy property where they will build 23 affordable rental apartment units for Aboriginal families. The project is located in an area well-served by transit, schools and services including grocery shopping, government services, parks and an Aboriginal Health Access Centre.
“The indigenous population in Hamilton is growing more quickly than the City’s overall population and the existing units run by Aboriginal providers are geared to families,” said Sacajawea Executive Director, Melanie McAulay. “While more affordable housing is needed for all family types, this building will help address an unmet housing need for singles, couples and small families.”
Sacajawea is a non-profit organization that builds and maintains housing for low- to moderate-income Aboriginal families. With this new building development project, Sacajawea will address a critical gap for one-person and small-family Aboriginal households in Hamilton.
Neighbour to Neighbour Food Centre
Good healthy food is something that everyone should enjoy regardless of income. A new initiative by Neighbour-to-Neighbour is geared towards ensuring that low-income families on the Hamilton Mountain have dignified access to healthy meals. The “community food centre” – the seventh of its kind in Canada – is a welcoming community space that offers a range of programs with healthy food at its core.
Last year Neighbour-to-Neighbour was chosen from among 24 Ontario towns and cities to partner with Community Food Centres of Canada to open a centre. The location at Limeridge Road West is well-placed — Neighbour-to-Neighbour cites some 35 percent of residents in some Mountain neighbourhoods live below the poverty line. A new loan from HCF will help to finance renovations to the facility before it opens as the community food centre.
Although addressing food insecurity is at the heart of this initiative, the community food centre is distinct from a food bank because it involves more than just access to food. It also offers programs for skills development and education around healthy eating. Indeed, the benefits of community food centres are wide-ranging and include improvements in both physical and mental health.
Trillium Housing Inc.
Housing affordability can make a world of difference for families. That’s where Trillium Housing comes in. Trillium is a non-profit organization that creates housing affordability through financing and developing entry-level homes. The Trillium team itself has significant expertise with a combined 100 years of experience in real estate, construction and housing innovation.
A recently approved loan from HCF will allow Trillium Housing to develop a new site with 66 affordable townhouses for families with annual incomes as low as $45,000, an income level below the local median. This new build site represents Trillium Housing’s second Hamilton project with financing from the Hamilton Community Investment Fund.
Of significance to eligible families is the Trillium Mortgage which combines with conventional financing to provide housing affordability, and is payment-free until resale or discharge. Moreover, the value of the mortgage is based on the individual circumstances of income-eligible buyers. This structure provides a simple yet effective way to offer housing affordability to families with eligible income levels.
HCF regularly supports organizations and initiatives that deal with poverty, health and the environment. But it’s not every day that a project comes along that addresses all three at once, while also helping to unlock a lot more funding.
SoBi Hamilton, the popular bike sharing program, was launched with great success in 2015, but limited resources also limited the number of locations it could serve. Now, a grant from HCF’s Losani Family Foundation Fund and the Environmental Endowment Fund is helping to expand SoBi’s reach into neighbourhoods where more low-income residents can access the service.
Peter Topalovic, Hamilton Bike Share & Smart Commute program manager with the City of Hamilton says HCF’s support to the pilot project, known as Everyone Rides, has also been the key to garnering a matching grant of $275,000 from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
“The community foundation was more than a partner in this initiative,” says Peter. “Not only did its contribution allow SoBi to access the full match from FCM, the Foundation team was also very supportive in bringing their knowledge to maximize community benefit. They really understood the initiative and the importance of having accessible transportation throughout the city.”
Through Everyone Rides, Hamilton will become a frontrunner in North America in bike share systems to serve low-income neighbourhoods. The program also includes supports such as cycling safety and skills training to overcome barriers to bike use experienced in other cities.
By encouraging more people to ride bikes, SoBi creates sustainable transportation from which the only energy burned is calories.
From Summer 2016 Legacy newsletter
A remarkable donation to Hamilton Community Foundation will help ensure local cats will be healthy, safe and wanted – forever.
The Foundation will give an annual grant of over $65,000 in perpetuity to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA to fund feline health and well-being, thanks to the donation of an estate from lifelong pet lover and long-time Hamilton cab owner, George Seliga.
“Pets provide companionship and are important family members for so many people,” says Terry Cooke, Hamilton Community Foundation president & CEO. “We are thrilled to have helped Mr. Seliga create the legacy he wanted.” Cooke says that because the donor wanted to do something that would benefit animals forever, he established an endowed fund, meaning that the donation is invested, generating the income that will be granted to the HBSPCA every year.
“It’s just one wonderful example of the many donors who have entrusted the Foundation to help them support those things that have had meaning to them during their lives – even when their own lives are over.”
Founded in 1887, the Hamilton SPCA (“HBSPCA”) was established to protect vulnerable animals. Today, the HBSPCA protects animals at risk, cares for and rehomes neglected and homeless pet companions, and promotes respect for all animals. Donors support affordable spay/neuter programs for family-owned pets and pets belonging to persons-at-risk. Donors and local veterinarians together support spay/neuter for free-roaming cats.
“Every spring, our kennels and foster homes are filled with homeless and neglected cats and kittens,” says HBSPCA CEO Marion Emo. “Mr. Seliga’s generous donation will help us to expand quality programs that support the three essential things that pet parents can do for their animal’s well-being: spay or neuter them, give them regular, preventative veterinary care, and have them micro-chipped for a safe return home if lost.” Emo says that the grant will make services to rescue groups and low-income families more accessible. “Combined with education about responsible cat care, we are confident that abandoned cat populations will significantly decrease and every cat will be a wanted cat.