When Zenaba came to Family Place for the first time with her 16-month-old and 2-month-old kids in 2012, her older child seemed to fit in right away.
“I had the baby in the carrier. He had friends, he was playing around with the toys they have, he got involved right away. I got to meet other parents and made friends with them, too,” she says.
Zenaba learned about Family Place by accident. She had just moved to the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood, was just getting familiar with the area and she walked into Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), where she learned of programs like Family Place.
“I took the brochure, went home, and then came to Family Place the next day.”
Since then, all five of her kids have attended the program. Beyond this, she became more involved with CNH by volunteering with the Food Hub and Families Branching Out, even helping out with fundraising for the latter program through her cooking skills.
But everything would change when COVID-19 hit the community in 2020.
“Coming here [to CNH] was a big social activity for [my children] so when COVID hit, it affected us very badly,” she says. “It affected my fourth son very much… he had a speech delay and didn’t go out that much.”
However, Zenaba saw things improve once they started coming back and appreciates the work the CNH staff members have done in supporting him.
“Every Wednesday afternoon, Katty [Mir] would do one-on-one [sessions] with him. He was very focused and was listening. She really worked with him,” she says. Her son now goes to kindergarten, and Zenaba thanks Family Place for being a reference for them when the school came for an observation.
Aside from this, Zenaba also appreciates the other forms of support CNH gives to their family.
“Now they’re coming back with the snacks [for kids] again. And it’s even better because now, we get clothing donations for the kids. Sometimes, they even give us food to carry home. So not only do the kids get food, but the parents too,” she says.
Overall, Zenaba enjoys the community CNH brings to her and her family, thanks to the different programs they’ve been involved in over the years.
“[Coming to CNH] changed my life. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t come here… daycare was expensive, everything was expensive. Having a program like this offers you and your family a chance to get involved in the community, and it really made a big impact on us.”
This story was originally written for our 2023 Annual Report, which highlights the experiences of program participants, volunteers and community members at CNH. For more information about family programs at CNH, visit www.cnh.bc.ca/family.