The road to better health

Community health brokers build a bridge to wellness in Crown Point

A successful cancer screening program called CASTLE (Creating Access to Screening and Training in the Living Environment) is expanding to help residents in the Crown Point neighbourhood take important steps to better overall health.

Focus groups in this east Hamilton community revealed the need for improved health care access and prevention information.  Funded by HCF, “CASTLE Beyond” uses a trained community health broker—someone who is known and trusted in the neighbourhood—to link residents to health promotion services. It’s a strategy proven to be effective, especially for underserved groups.

Through neighbourhood partnerships, the program focuses on the community’s self-identified needs and interests. In tandem with a public health nurse, the brokers connect with residents and organizations, to work together to promote health information and health-related activities.   By increasing their knowledge and confidence, residents are empowered to overcome barriers and take action on their own health, including accessing screening and other services and lowering chronic disease risks.


Freedom ride

For older adults, taking the bus spells freedom – no matter what language they speak.

Social isolation can affect all seniors but those from ethno-culturally diverse communities are at greater risk.  A grant from HCF is helping the Hamilton Council on Aging to expand its successful “Let’s Take the Bus” workshop designed to increase these seniors’ independence and sense of belonging.

A workshop for South Asian seniors included presentations on everything from planning the route to paying the fare, all assisted by a volunteer interpreter, and materials in Urdu and Punjabi.  Following the workshop, the City of Hamilton supplied a bus and driver to take participants to Jackson Square, where they were treated to lunch.

Participants reported feeling more comfortable with the bus and plan to take it more often.  Future workshops are planned for the Italian and Portuguese communities.


Interval House

In 1986, Interval House opened as an emergency shelter. Today, the community-based agency offers comprehensive services for rural and urban women who have experienced abuse, including shelter, support, legal advocacy and counselling. It also works toward system change that will result in greater safety for all women and their children.

In 2006, Interval House took the important step of establishing an agency endowment fund at HCF, taking advantage of a $5,000 incentive offered by the Foundation to any local charity that chooses to establish such a fund.

Donors can now give directly to the Interval House (Hamilton) Freedom & Hope Fund at HCF. It provides an important way for donors to give to Interval House, knowing funds will support programs and services and ensure that they are available into the future.

Excerpt from Spring 2014 Newsletter


Pairing teens and seniors: a recipe for community

Beyond food security, Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre knows that community gardens and food programming offer opportunities to learn the value of local food and build relationships between communities. A grant from HCF is helping N2N to expand its programming to connect teens and seniors through food, creating an intergenerational food garden and cooking programming. Sackville-Nat-2014

Working with Sackville Senior Recreation Centre to make use of its extensive green space and fully equipped commercial kitchen, N2N hosted garden skills and cooking sessions to enhance food growing and literacy skills. This 8-week program paired senior participants with youth to work together around food. It gives seniors new energy and youth mentorship – a win-win for both.

The cooking and gardening presentations were run by university summer students. Vegetables, fresh from the N2N community gardens, were used as ingredients for delicious and healthy meal. One senior participant noted that the program offered opportunities to try new foods and to learn to live healthier.

In addition to increasing knowledge of food and making healthier dietary substitution, the social aspect of the program was also valued by participants, who got to socialize with people in the community while gaining knowledge in food and gardening.

Building on their ever expanding network of community gardens, this initiative has proven to be both educational and life-changing. Participants learn the importance of local food, build relationships, develop new skills and experience improved mental and physical health. In addition to continue growing its on-site community food programs, N2N plans to offer site-specialized mobile programming to reach new audiences and connect closer with people in the community.

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Getting students to learn through the arts

What happens when Beethoven meets Thomas Edison? The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s answer to this is Learning Through the Arts (LTTA), a series of innovative programs that combine core curriculum with art-based teaching methods to create fun learning experiences that encourage students’ creativity and self-expression in the learning process.

The HWDSB placed specially-trained Arts Educators in over 100 classrooms to create more dynamic learning experiences in collaboration with teachers and their students.  A grant from the HCF’s Edith Turner Foundation Fund has extended the reach of the programming to over 500 more students from eight high needs schools.

Music composition, poetry, dance and aboriginal drumming were just a few of the many arts activities that HWDSB students got to experience as they learned about environment responsibility, social justice, fiscal responsibility and more.

Students composed new music to express their thoughts on the health and restoration of the Hamilton Harbour and watershed. Through spoken word and dance, students explored topics on social justice and used choreographed movements to illustrate their viewpoints.

The Hamilton Community Foundation grant also enabled the introduction of two new programs:   Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) and the Music Champion program to HWDSB.  YEP  supports youth in vulnerable situations, using the arts to engage students experiencing learning difficulties.  Its impact is far-reaching, beyond just supporting the learning of core curriculum but also addressing critical social issues faced by these youth. Similarly, Music Champion is a program harnesses the power of music to teach math, science and language arts.

The LTTA programs prove that the arts and engaged learning go hand in hand. School-wide survey results showed 100% of teachers agreeing that LTTA lessons kept their students more interested and engaged. Additionally, teachers also noted that students with behavioural issues responded positively to LTTA programs.  Said one staff member, “It was an exciting program for the kids. Every single student loved what they were doing and when I talked to them about what they were doing, they were able to articulate the learning that was taking place in the classroom as well.”


Dr. Steve Perry – Eastburn Fellowship Fund

Dr. Steve Perry PHOTOI graduated from Westmount High School in Montreal in 1974, then earned an Honours B.Sc. in Biology from Concordia University. In 1977, I received an NSERC 1967 Science Scholarship to enter the PhD program in Zoology at the University of British Columbia; I graduated in 1981 and took up an NSERC post-doctoral Fellowship also at UBC for one year and conducted a final year of postdoctoral training at McMaster University (Biology) in 1982-83.

I was made aware of the award by my second postdoctoral supervisor, Dr. Chris Wood (Department of Biology, McMaster University). Ironically, he also told me that I didn’t really stand a chance of being successful because the competition for these awards was so stiff.

I have been a professor at the University of Ottawa in the Department of Biology since 1983. Currently, I am the Dean of Science. The Eastburn Fellowship was pivotal in allowing me to continue my post-doctoral fellowship training, which, in turn, allowed me to become competitive in the academic job market. Being able to add such a prestigious scholarship to my CV certainly contributed to my success.

I was at a crossroads when I applied for the Eastburn, no funding, no prospect of securing a PDF without a scholarship and certainly too junior to be successful in the job market. Quite simply, I would not be a professor today if it were not for the receipt of the Eastburn scholarship – it changed my life.

If I could say anything to Mr. Eastburn, I would say, “Thank you   X 10^6! Your generosity changed my life and consequently, also influenced (I hope in a positive way) the many students whom I have mentored over the years. Your gift lifted me to where I am today – I am forever grateful.”


Nicole Bee – Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund

Nicole Bee PHOTOI graduated from Sir Allan MacNab High School in 1997 and attended OAC in 1997-98. As I went through high school, I figured out fairly quickly that I wanted to be a social worker. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that had many privileges and I wanted to help those who hadn’t been as lucky; who struggled with issues such as addiction, poverty, and illness. I applied for and was accepted at McMaster University, into the School of Social Work. I started classes at McMaster in the fall of 1998, and graduated in 2003 with my BA/BSW.

I tried to keep an eye out for any possible scholarships or bursaries, but didn’t seem to be eligible, for one reason or another. The HCF Bursary was one that I could actually apply for, and I was very excited to find it. I’ve worked at the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society for just over seven years, as a child protection worker, and it has given me a chance to use the skills I learned in university. It’s nice to know that I’m actually doing the work I hoped to do.

When I was going through the social work program, I was also doing a field placement and working a part-time job. The financial help meant that I could do a few less hours at the local grocery store, and spend them studying instead.

I was lucky to have a lot of help from my parents when I was going through school. Having the Chaney Ensign Bursary meant that I could stand on my own two feet a bit more, and not have as much debt at the end of my university career.

If I had a chance to speak to the donors who made the fund possible, I would say, “Thank you. Going to university is a stressful experience. Having the HCF bursary makes it a little easier to relax, and focus on doing the best work possible.”


Florence Sicoli – Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund

I attended Cathedral Girl’s and Central high schools in downtown Hamilton, graduating from what was then Grade 13 in 1966. I then earned a bachelor in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and soon started a long career in journalism, including about 15 years as a reporter and editor at The Hamilton Spectator in Hamilton, as well as The Star, The Globe & Mail in Toronto, and as a freelancer in Rome, Italy.

I cannot recall how I learned about the Chaney Ensign Bursary Fund, but as a reporter, I knew about the Foundation. I am currently retired as health editor at The Hamilton Spectator, and am working part-time as an arts & entertainment and lifestyle copy editor at Postmedia Editorial Services in Hamilton.

I was not your usual “young” person looking to get into university. I was a middle-aged person in mid-career who really desired more education than my bachelor degree afforded me. I wanted more intellectual stimulation and advancement in my career and saw a post-graduate study program as the way to achieve these goals.

As a single parent with a daughter to care for, I found it financially prohibitive to give up a full-time salary to study. However, I was very committed to the goal and with a little help from the Foundation, I was able to earn a Master’s degree from York in 1992 and then go on to do most of a PhD program (all but dissertation, which I may return to now that I’m semi-retired) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

I’ve always thought that journalists should be very well educated because the task of writing to convey information etc. to readers is a very substantial responsibility that requires a lot of skill, knowledge and experience to carry out. I felt my undergrad degree wasn’t all that I wanted from the academic world, and earning my master’s and doing most of the work required for a PhD gave me not only more knowledge but also helped sharpen my intellectual skills and boosted my confidence at work and our community.

If I could say anything to Genevieve A. Chaney & Cordelia C. Ensign, I would say “thanks.” Your generosity really makes and enriches other people’s lives and enables them to better contribute to our community and society.


Maria Antonakos – Geritol Follies Bursary Fund

Maria Antonakos PHOTOI spent my early years in the Ottawa Valley, and Brockville, Ontario. In school, I was always involved with music and theatre. My parents moved to Hamilton as I was setting a course for university study as a singer and in particular, studying opera. I attended the Faculty of Music at University of Toronto where I was fortunate enough to work with Canadian soprano Lois Marshall. I pursued further studies in New York City at both New York University and The Juilliard School.

I was very fortunate to meet Boris and Ardyth Brott, who gave me my first job in arts management after university. I worked with them for three years managing the festival during the summers and going to school in the fall and winter. The Boris Brott Festival was a terrific place to learn about what it takes to produce orchestral and chamber music concerts. Boris and Ardyth were wonderfully supportive of me both as an artist and a manager behind the scenes. I learned about the bursary through them, as they were very involved in the community.

Today I am the Director of Advancement at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. I live in Dundas with my husband, a professor of chemistry at McMaster University. We have four-year-old twins. I sing to them all of the time – and of late, this is the only formal singing I do. I can’t wait to get them started in music lessons and attending concerts in the community. We are fortunate to have so many opportunities to experience the wonder of the arts in this region. Hamilton Community Foundation plays a big part in supporting young artists on stage and the artists who work behind the scenes. The work of the Foundation helps to create an ‘eco-system of possibility’ which is vital to building our creative and thriving city.

The bursary helped me get a matching scholarship that enabled me to fund my education in NYC. I would not have been able to attend school in New York without it.

Having an established organization like HCF acknowledge talent and ambition in a formal way provides confidence to young artists and students as they are establishing themselves. It also sets the stage for them to give back – because they remember how much they were helped in the early days. Today, I am a donor to HCF because I know, first hand, how much the support of others can inspire one to work harder.

If I could speak to the Geritol Follies committee, I would say, “Thank you. Your endorsement and support gave me the courage and capacity to reach higher and further than I would have on my own.”


Louise Wynne – Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund

I attended Westdale Secondary School from 1985 to 1989, graduating summa cum laude and receiving an Ontario Scholar’s award. I then attended McMaster University from 1990 to 1995 where I studied Humanities, focusing on Classical studies – specifically Latin and Greek translation. Once again, I graduated summa cum laude and received the A. G. McKay prize in Classical studies, which is awarded for excellent grades. My education continued as I went on to attain my Master’s degree in classical degree languages. In 1994–1995, I attended Brock University, receiving my Bachelor of Education.

My first year at McMaster was a difficult one, as my father had left our family in financial hardship. My memories are a little hazy, but I believe that Dr. James Dale, a professor at McMaster University and a member of the same church that I attended with my family, found out about my financial difficulties. I believe he made an appointment with the financial department so that he and I could investigate the options available for me. It was during this appointment that I learned about the Chaney-Ensign Bursary. He also helped me complete the request.

On graduation, I was hired as an occasional teacher by the Wentworth School Board in 1997 (now HWDSB) and have been a full time teacher since 1999. I teach the youngest students in our elementary school because I want to instill in them the love of learning that I have had since I first started my educational journey.

I would not have been able to complete my studies at McMaster had I not received the bursary. Without it, I would have had to put my educational goals on hold while I earned sufficient funds to pay for my education. The bursary relieved the stress and uncertainty of whether or not I would be able to continue to attend McMaster and ultimately fulfill my dreams of becoming a teacher.

If I could say something to the sisters who provided this bursary fund, I would simply say, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You saved my life and made it possible for me to fulfill my dreams.” I am truly grateful that there are people who are kind enough to share their wealth and good fortune. If I am ever in a financial situation where I can do the same, I will not hesitate to do so.