The greatest gift

Neighbourhood family centre brings healing.

Human connection is one of the greatest gifts to be found at a neighbourhood family centre.

When Malofo Fofana lost her husband to cancer in 2014 the Winnipeg Central Park Women’s Resource Centre gave her that gift.

“I would just be crying. When my kids would go to school it was difficult for me to even stay alone in the house.”

At the family centre someone would ask how she is, and then listen.

Malofo with her boys, Hassan and Ahmed, at the neighbourhood family centre where she found support during a difficult time.

Malofo with her boys, Hassan and Ahmed, at the neighbourhood family centre where she found support during a difficult time.

“I would share with them the emotions I was going through and they would support me.”

Malofo learned how to sew from the centre’s coordinator, Melrose Koineh, who she calls ‘Auntie’ out of respect.

“Now I can make dresses. I have lots of dresses that I made for myself, so I am very proud of myself, and it’s thanks to this women’s centre.”

Malofo, who came to Canada as a refugee in 2008, has used many of the centre’s resources and teaching opportunities including the peer support group, computer skills, multicultural cooking and physical activity classes.

She says the community of families at the centre, which is used by many newcomers, helps each other by sharing stories and knowledge about life in Canada.

“It’s very supportive, especially when people newly come to Canada with family.”

It’s just one of 24 United Way-supported neighbourhood family centres around Winnipeg – places of safety where families connect to resources, community supports, and their neighbours. They give opportunities to learn life-skills and provide basic necessities like affordable food, laundry facilities, and job search resources.

And human connection.

Mirela’s story

Your gift means more support for people in need, close to home.

People like Mirela, who looked for help at a neighbourhood family centre after her dad died.

“I went looking for guidance…initially for my mental health and depression because my dad passed away.”

Mirela

Mirela

Mirela got help at NorWest Co-op Community Health – a United Way-supported neighbourhood family centre – and built strength into her life.

“They have taught me, like, ‘you can do this, you can do whatever you put your heart into.’”

Today Mirela volunteers through the family centre at a food centre that teaches nutrition to families in her Blake Gardens community, and at a low-cost fruit and veggie market that provides an option for low-income families to get healthy foods.

It makes her proud to be contributing to her community and fostering better health among her neighbours.

“It builds the community stronger, absolutely. A healthy community is a happy community…we’re not just community, we are family.”

The generosity of Winnipeggers like you help keep the doors open at 24 neighbourhood family centres across Winnipeg for people like Mirela and her neighbours.

Thank you.

Leah’s story

Your gift means more support for Winnipeg families right where they live.

For Leah, a single mom of six, the help she got through a neighbourhood family centre kept her kids fed and brought her out of depression and isolation.

Leah got counselling and parenting classes, and her kids got fed, at the Plessis Road Family Resource Centre – a United Way agency partner.

“With low income, I couldn’t afford to give them the breakfast…this resource centre saved my life.”

She began volunteering at the centre and was eventually hired to help serve food for the children’s Breakfast Club and lead the ‘walking school bus’ to get kids safely to school.

Leah gets ready to lead the 'walking school bus'.

Leah gets ready to lead the ‘walking school bus’.

Neighbourhood family centres are outposts strength and support helping vulnerable individuals, families and neighbourhoods become stronger.

“It’s just a great feeling giving back and knowing you’re contributing something to these kids’ lives,” says Leah.

“It took a lot for me to stand up for myself and get back my self-worth. The first step was getting in the door.”

The generosity of Winnipeggers like you help keep the doors open at 24 neighbourhood family centres across Winnipeg for families like Leah’s.

Thank you.

Children eat breakfast at the neighbourhood family centre.

Children eat breakfast at the neighbourhood family centre.