PROVIDING HOPE, PURPOSE AND DIGNITY TO VULNERABLE SENIORS AND VETERANS
With Jenny Konkin
What happens when you end severe isolation and loneliness by inviting people into community in the middle of the chaos of Canada’s poorest postal code? In this episode, we visit with Jenny Konkin who is the Co-Founder of a Downtown Eastside Vancouver organization called Wholeway House that works with vulnerable seniors and veterans. She also started “The I Get To Legacy Project” that helps fund Wholeway House and reminds us to ask “What do I GET TO do today?”
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In this episode, we learn about…
- How Jenny and her brother got their start helping people in low-income housing and the challenges that they had to face
- Out of 85 residents, not one person could tell Jenny about a man that passed away in the building she was managing
- Jenny’s upbringing and what prepared her to do what she’s doing today
- Jenny’s dad taught her that people are lonely and that elderly people need visitors. Now she is doing that through Wholeway House.
- What it’s like working and living in Canada’s poorest postal code: The Vancouver Downtown Eastside
- Hastings and Main
- The perils of Check Day
- The impact of creating community and ending isolation
- Reconnect, Rebuild and Re-center.
- “Coffee Mike”
- I GET TO
- How “I GET TO” got its start
- How Wholeway House is helping to end the cycle of homelessness
QUOTES from Jenny (paraphrased)
- I often use the word “chaos” when I describe the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. A lot of people describe it as out of control and it is out-of-control
- To me, the most important part was sitting down and having a meal together
- Everyone has something to contribute. They wanted to give. They didn’t just always want to have a handout. We start programs where they can get a hand up and contribute
- I learned that it was really about small transformations and how could we impact people‘s lives?
- “I get to do those things because I’m still alive.” ~ Ron Konkin
- I start every morning with the practice of asking “what do I get to do today?”
- People are getting the tools that they need through our programs and they are not falling back into homelessness
- I did not realize how many seniors are facing homelessness
- Imagine your grandparent living in the chaos of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. We found out that seniors were being targeted on pension day outside the bank. So we got a van and now we take people to the bank and to be safer
- When people don’t go outside at all we see the deterioration in their mental health. So we have various adult programs to address their health needs
- Over 90% of our seniors that are homeless are first time homeless. It’s a growing problem
- Every person has a story. People’s behavior comes from somewhere
- No matter how much we grow our organization we want to keep the main thing the main thing and that’s loving people where they’re at.
- We were built to serve, and we don’t use that, it can wear away at us.
- First Challenge: Ask yourself, “What do I get to do today and who do I get to impact?”
- Second Challenge: Find something that you’re passionate about and volunteer
Get In Touch With Jenny