UNITY IN DIVERSITY
On Saturday, November 30th, about 1,000 residents and friends came together to celebrate the grand opening of one of Northeast London’s hidden gems – the Carling-Thames Family Centre, located at 335 Belfield Street.
The Family Centre is designed to make life easier for
all families (particularly those with children 0-12 years old) by offering a single door to the many opportunities in one’s neighbourhood and city. It is part of the Child & Youth Network’s London-wide plan to develop 40 Family Centres across our forest city.
The YMCA of Western Ontario is the lead agency for the Carling-Thames Family Centre and works with the City of London, area service agencies, resident groups, and individuals, to provide the community with information, programs, activities and resources.
Organizing and planning such a large scale event is no easy feat – especially when resident community leaders, of diverse backgrounds, are called upon to lend their skills, expertise and talents to ensure a successful event.
Event Coordinators, Carolyn and Charles Innis, worked with volunteers from local resident groups, schools and neighbourhoods to make it happen. After forming three distinct working teams, each team member put their best foot forward, primarily for one reason – to show their pride and love for their community!
Even local area restaurants stepped up, without hesitation, to support the event by preparing and donating food and drinks to the event.
Several performers loaned their talents and cultural gifts of music, song and dance. Service providers conducted activities for the young which allowed guests to learn about the many programs and activities offered at the Family Centre, and in the community.
Of course, like any grand opening, we could not do without acknowledging and thanking London’s City Council and City Hall staff for their continued support for the growth and development of our Northeast neighbourhoods.Mayor Joe Fontana even took time out of his Saturday to be present, to “officially” open the Centre.
To give you a sense of the magnitude of the event’s richness, the scope of the skills and talents shared, the generosity of our volunteers, supporters, and all who were involved in the preparation and organization of this wonderful, well organized event, let’s give thanks and acknowledge all who helped make this event AWESOME!
LET’S GO BACK AND GIVE THANKS
The good folks of Northeast London Community Engagement [NELCE] must be thanked for their excellent work as our food services team. A great deal of heart, and thought was put into the dishes served, and their dedication enhanced the event’s success immensely.
Also, special thanks to Jack McKillop of Kipps Lane & Community, who is a man of all trades. Aside from acting as an event courier, Jack helped move desks and tables from the stage, and helped out wherever there was a need.
We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the custodial staff at the Northbrae Public School, and the Carling-Thames Family Centre, for keeping things clean and safe. Of course, many measures were in place to help ensure the safety of all attendees, and we would like to say thank you to all of the Greeters, and Area Monitors, with a special thanks going to Angela, our designated first aid responder.
The Grand Opening was full of so many special moments, with much forethought put into making it inter-generational, capacity building, entertaining, and up-lifting.
It was wonderful to see the spectacular dancers from O.N.E. Hip Hop Dance Studio, Dynamic Dozen, Fierce Flava, the Nepalese Community and Karen Community, joining The Beacock Line Dancers and Suzie as they demonstrated how easy and fun it is to line dance.
Once the gauntlet had been thrown down, nothing could stop Suzanne Walker-Stewart and her team of Line Dancers from reciprocating, busting their best moves during the Hip Hop dance workshop, to the delight of a packed audience.
Additional thanks to The Big Picture, Genevieve Labbe, concertina player Tim Oliver, guitarist Douglas Gillespie, Yan Hou who played the Guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither instrument, and gifted singer Adina Innis for bringing beautiful music to the event.”
Carolyn commented, “In making rounds, we left the backstage crew, and visited Joe, Leah, Denise, Ann, Deb, Gord, Sue, Bernardine, Agatha,Jenny, Jerome, Reda, Claudia and Erlinda, in the bustling food services area. Everyone was working through multiple constraints & challenges, all the while maintaining the professional spirit that gives potency to the words “The Show Must Go On!”
“We stepped back out into the hallway, and found ourselves flanked by some of the event’s local business contributors. Those Garlic Fingers from Domino’s Pizza were pretty tasty, and a Starbucks coffee was certainly in order” Carolyn continued. “It was very gracious of several businesses at Northland Mall to come together in such a strong demonstration of support for the community.
Tremendous thanks also go out to Kelsey’s East, Pizza Hut, Mo Mo’s from the Western Fair Market, Dooly’s Middle Eastern Food, Thuan Kieu Vietnamese Restaurant,Vegway, Metro, Pet Paradise (for gift certificates to give away), Home Hardware, Jumbo Video, Huron House Restaurant, and all of the people who came out to sample their fares and wares.”
“Every sector of the community came together on this magical day, and it really did convey a beautiful sense of unity in diversity!” stated Charles, noting that, “Behind all of the hard work, and passionate participation, was a planning team which comprised many kind-hearted, dynamic, and dedicated community stakeholders.”
The Northeast Community would be remiss if we did not offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to the following people, groups and organizations, who helped put this event together:
- Bethany & Tony Mejia for the historical ”East of Adelaide” display
- Fern Patterson and Mark Rose, Kipps Lane & Community
- Jacqueline Fraser, Northeast London Community Engagement
- Christine Smith, Resident
- Will Graham, Neon Crab Tattoos & Piercing
- Maria Forte, Beacock Branch Library
- Liz Hicks, Childreach
- Elisabete Rodrigues and Meaghan Warwick, LUSO
- Claudette Andress, The Family Centre YMCA
- Yasika Jarquin, Merrymount Children’s Centre
- Janice Hamilton, The City of London
- Yasmin Hussain, The Memorial Boys and Girls Club
- and the Staff of the Carling-Thames Family Centre – Arden McClean, Teresa Wilson, Kate Burton, Patricia Winiarczyk and Theresa Reavely.
Many organizations had staff members enthusiastically helping in the various activity spaces. Elementary and high school students from Catholic Central, Hillcrest, Northbrae, Sir John A. MacDonald, Evelyn Harrison, Lord Elgin, Bishop Townshend, John Paul II, Montcalm, A.B. Lucas, and Knollwood Parkdemonstrated their leadership skills in their roles as community ambassadors.
When attending community events like this, it is always comforting to see the delight on children’s faces enjoying the many activities, smell the aromas of multicultural foods, feel the energetic vibes of the volunteers, sense the beauty and inclusiveness of community spirit and taste success in our area of London! What a great way to reaffirm our passion and love for our Northeast community!