Heading into its 10th year as part of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Charity Challenge, West Neighbourhood House stands out as one of the most recognized charity partners to take part in the program. A multi-faceted organization that provides a range of services and development programs to the west Toronto population, WNH is committed to community building and thus finds great synergy with the Scotiabank Charity and Neighbourhood Challenges.
“We’ve been able to raise about $25,000 each year through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge,” says Lambrina Nikolaou, director of community programs. “It’s not only a great fundraising event for us but a wonderful way to bring the community together.”
Many Toronto residents may have heard the name West Neighbourhood House, but aren’t aware of just how expansive this great organization is. With offerings for babies up to seniors, and newcomers and homeless youth, the WNH is an integral part of the west Toronto neighbourhood.
“We are not one single organization — we are a multi-service organization,” emphasizes Danielle Benton, acting community relations coordinator. “Some of our specific initiatives include children’s programs and after school programs, camps, parents’ programs, newcomer youth and family welcoming program, resources for immigrant families, homeless drop-in support systems and mental health and addiction support systems, seniors’ meals on wheels programs and offering employment services to youth.”
Through all these great resources, health and wellness remain the central themes for the WNH — a clear reason why the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is the logical fit for a fundraising initiative.
“Walking and running are very accessible activities,” says Lambrina. “So many of the people who use our services can participate, since a range of distances are offered and there truly is something for everyone. We have gotten some great traction with a community coming out to cheer as well.”
As an organization, WHN loves to try out new ways to engage people and “bring them together in a celebratory way”, as Danielle puts it. A program that has received notable attention in the past year was the youth running program that helped youth preparing for the 5K in a supportive and fun training environment.
“Last year, we were fortunate to have the Parkdale Roadrunners leading a group of young women in the running program,” says Lambrina. “This year, we’ve opened it up to be co-ed and have about 17 youth coming out every week to run in High Park or by the Lakeshore, and the success from last year has carried over.”
As WHN continues to gather momentum for the Scotiabank Neighbourhood and Charity Challenges, they expect to have about 50 to 60 people out walking or running and they look forward to the fun and creative initiatives their staff and community volunteers put into the experiences.
“We’ve had volunteers and youth run successful bake sales to raise money, and we always get a lot of people participating in costumes,” says Danielle, who notes that the organization is proud of their volunteers and the enthusiasm they have for the challenge.
You can learn more about West Neighbourhood and their expansive program offerings by visiting http://www.westnh.org/