and Abirah Chandraraj, Social Media Intern
Nichola was born in Guyana but immigrated to Canada and has been a resident of Gordon Ridge Toronto Community Housing for the last 16 years. As a mother with a child with special needs, she shares that services such as social housing and social assistance make a great difference. For her, coming from another country with no handouts, she wants to give her best by not taking anyone or anything for granted. Nichola does that to learn and grow, she says that in today’s age more doors are starting to open so she encourages others like her to take advantage of that and continue to do the work to make a name for themselves and the community they care about.
Being part of the Hub's Resident Action Committee (RAC).
Nichola has been part of the HUB’s Resident Action Committee for approximately 7-8 years. She recalls when she first started they did not have anything. The realization that they needed to be independent allowed them to be creative with their fundraising as they did car washes, sold clothes, and hosted other fundraising events in order to give out meals free of cost.
What she loves about SCHC is that it is nearby and the opportunity SCHC recently provided her and other residents with the Hub Meal program is very rewarding. She states it is the first time where residents like her have gotten a job that paid well and, through the partnership, she was able to hire two other residents weekly. “Being able to see a sense of pride in their eyes is another part of this job that is rewarding not only for me, but to those who help and support me. It is something that makes me very proud!” states Nichola.
Nichola also provides a way for residents to gain skills through careful maintenance and focus on their mental and environmental health with the different gardens they have including a honey orchard. What is produced from this garden improves the community’s food security and sustainable agriculture leading to strengthening their financial health via entrepreneurial ventures.
“Have you noticed that in every community where there are kids, there are trips that all the kids go to?” asked Nichola. “But sometimes, there are parents that are not able to meet that need”. That’s when Nichola thought it would be nice to meet that need anonymously so, in Gordon Ridge, they started a committee with residents to work with staff in finding out which child needed that extra support.
Ethnic Delight Express was created by addressing the need to prepare and distribute meals to kids during programs, including working with Jays Care. “However, it was hard to take on so much responsibility, especially when they started as they didn’t have equipment or a business plan”, Nichola stated. The stressful nights paid off, as she found different ways to hire staff from the Gordon Ridge community and reinvesting profits to support the wellbeing of the residents.
For Nichola, she believes it is important to give back so others in her situations can have similar opportunities. She shared that when your back is against the wall and circumstances are against you, services like these can really make a difference, which is why it is important to use your voice to advocate so “we become responsible for the breaths that we breathe”!