Kiwassa Neighbourhood House is a grassroots, multi-service community agency that has been providing a broad range of free or low cost social services and programs to children, youth, adults, seniors and families in East Vancouver for 60 years. Kiwassa works in partnership with residents, community agencies, businesses, government and non-government organizations, using a community development and capacity building approach to identify and respond to community needs.
At Kiwassa, we believe that our community members should expect and receive community-based programs and services as defined by community members.
Kiwassa fosters personal, social and community development and provides opportunities that engage, educate and empower people to participate productively in their community.
- We strive to identify areas and issues of greatest need within our targeted community, and to initiate programs and services to meet these needs.
- We strive to bring neighbours together, encouraging them to share their experiences and friendship with each other.
- We work cooperatively with other agencies to identify, develop and support programs and services offered elsewhere in our community and City.
We are children, youth, adults, and seniors of all ethnicities, beliefs, cultures, abilities, and economic levels. We speak many languages and we are people of all sexual orientations. We value diversity and endeavour to reflect the diversity of our neighbours in our membership, our Board of Directors, our volunteers and our staff.
We respect all of our neighbours and we expect that all who come to our House and all of those who provide and receive our services will extend the same respect to all they meet here. In accordance with this, we will act to promote the inclusion of all in our Neighbourhood House and in our community.
Our Constitution and Bylaws:
Please click here for a copy of our Constitution and Bylaws KNSA Constitution & Bylaws
Kiwassa was formed in 1949 by the Kiwassa Ladies Club of Vancouver, a service club comprised of the wives and daughters of members of the Kiwanis Club. The Kiwassa Club was concerned about the needs of inner city children, especially girls and their families, and so they fundraised and initiated volunteer led activities for the girls and their parents. The Kiwassa Girls Club, as it was known, was based out of an old fire hall at 600 Vernon Drive, in the Grandview Woodlands neighbourhood of East Vancouver.
Kiwassa was developed over time to build on the settlement / neighbourhood house model of providing needed services and community development within a community.
Kiwassa incorporated as a non-profit society in 1951; and was registered as a charitable organization in 1967. Programs continued for girls and expanded to involve all residents. In 1961, the name was legally changed to Kiwassa Neighbourhood Services Association – Kiwassa Neighbourhood House for short.
In 1987, Kiwassa decided it could better meet the needs of the community by relocating from Vernon Drive to the current location at Oxford Street and Nanaimo. Extensive community planning and fundraising was undertaken. The new Kiwassa Neighbourhood House opened its doors in 1992 at 2425 Oxford Street. It was built in three phases, first in 1992, then expanded in 1995, and the final expansion was completed in 2005.
Kiwassa facilities: The current Kiwassa Neighbourhood House is a purpose-built, 15,500 square foot community facility developed by Kiwassa, with support from all levels of government and a long list of donors. Kiwassa Neighbourhood House’s building was given to the City of Vancouver and is leased for $1 per year. Kiwassa Neighbourhood House belongs to the community. The site includes a low-income family housing complex. Kiwassa also operates three licensed childcare programs and one early child development program off site, and also developed and operates a second housing complex in the neighbourhood.
Kiwassa’s name: when the Vancouver Kiwassa Club formed and started the Kiwassa Girls Club, the founders took the name Kiwassa because they understood it means “little sister” in an unspecified Aboriginal language. We have also learned that in Cree, Kiwassa has a meaning something like: “extended family”. We think it fits.
Kiwassa’s Board of Directors:
Kiwassa Neighbourhood House is governed by a Board of Directors who are community leaders from our neighbourhood volunteering their time to support the work of Kiwassa. Kiwassa board members bring a broad range of skills, experiences and connections to their governance role. If you are interested in learning more about this important role, or would otherwise like to contact the Kiwassa board, please email them at email@example.com. For a list of board members and contact information, click here Kiwassa Board of Directors.
Kiwassa staff and volunteers:
Kiwassa Neighborhood House has a staff of ninety that reflect the broad diversity within our neighbourhood. Our staff bring an eclectic range of education, professional training and experience to the work of Kiwassa, as well as passion, ideas and energy. Collectively, Kiwassa staff speak 16 languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, Vietnamese, Tagalog, French, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Taiwanese, Japanese, Cree and sign language.
Likewise, our more than 200 volunteers reflect the community’s diversity, contribute many, many thousands of hours and provide leadership to help guide and shape our programs.
Also offered within Kiwassa are the following programs:
- Alternative high school by Vancouver School Board
- Aboriginal family support: Vancouver Aboriginal Early Childhood Support Program
- Family Healing Program by Warriors Against Violence Society. WAVS offices are also here.
- Education, parenting and health workshops offered by various community partners
- Health clinics and addictions support by Vancouver Coastal Health
Kiwassa works closely with a broad range of partners, including our local schools, Hastings Sunrise Community Policing Centre, Hastings Community Centre, Hastings North Business Improvement Association; the Ministry of Children and Family Development, St. David’s Church, the Longhouse Ministry, Vancouver Public Library and many other organizations working in our community.