Shelldale Family Gateway Says “Thank you!”

Here at Shelldale we provide preventative programs for vulnerable children and their families living in the most marginalized neighbourhood in Guelph.

Michelle Henderson, Executive Director of Shelldale Family Gateway, says “Thank you!”

Many of the families experience food insecurity and financial hardship, there are many single parent families and we have the most percentage of families living under the Low-Income Cutoff.  As well, many of the new Canadians settling in Guelph come to the Shelldale Area.  For this reason many of the children attending our programs experience financial, cultural, language and transportation barriers when attempting to be involved in any sport or recreation programming.

Being located in the heart of this community with diverse staff we are able to help remove many of these barriers.  For the past 25 years we have been designated as a Better Beginnings, Better Futures site which has allowed us to help strengthen this community through preventative programming including:

·         promoting the healthy development of children

·         intentionally supporting and promoting activities to reduce the poverty gap for children and their families

·         strengthen the partnership with service providers and schools to support families to navigate the systems easier (many of these partners are located in the Shelldale Centre Hub which allows us to walk families down to other supports and services such as Family and Children’s Services, Lutherwood or Immigrant Services)

We use a holistic approach which sees the child in the context of the family and the family in the context of the community.  This means that if family is not thriving (poverty and other related stressors) then the family can be less able to focus on their child thriving.  If the community itself is not thriving (poor housing conditions, poorly lit areas, crime etc) then the family is less able to thrive.  This approach means that we support capacity building and community building events and programming, we provide programs for the siblings, youth, teenagers and parents in order to best support the whole family.

In January 2018, the Ministry of Education amalgamated all of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures sites into one single EarlyON program for children 0-6 and their caregivers.  The new guidelines mean that we are now unable to be spending our Ministry funding on the types of programs that support this holistic approach.  We know the value of these programs and so have chosen to continue to fundraise in order to support these programs.

When 100 Women Who Care Guelph contacted us, it gave us the space to be able to continue to run these programs in a way that is meaningful for our families.  This means that we feed children in programs (this helps the entire family), it means that we can buy shoes for children accessing our programs, it also means that we are able to pay more staff to be in program to help with the cultural and language barriers our children face as well as bring in more children to the program because we have more staff to supervise them.

It has made an incredible difference for our organization.  This is why this model of giving is so impactful, you can do so much more with a lump sum of money rather than $100 coming in here and there from donors.  We are so grateful to have been chosen and we can’t thank this group of generous, community minded women enough.

With gratitude

Michelle Henderson

Executive Director – Shelldale Family Gateway

(formerly Shelldale Better Beginnings Better Futures)

519-824-8498 ext. 123