By Karen Bradley
The Old School Community Gathering Place has been a gathering place for workshops, concerts, coffee houses, festivals, an art gallery, and meeting space. But thanks to the work of a dedicated staff and many volunteers, the Old School has become home for a surprisingly rich array of programs that address some of our community’s most serious problems.
Through our operation of the federal Youth Skills program (YESS), we have been working with the Shore’s young people to get back to school, find jobs, and even start their own businesses. Kathy Spearing and Debbie Farrell are their guides and mentors. They will be interviewing for the next YESS training program in August. Contact the Old School at 902-889-2735.
Our Food Pantry, funded by Second Harvest until the end of June, has been open on Mondays and Fridays. Many thanks to the great volunteers who have helped serve, shop, and care for community members who need food support. This program will continue to run dependent on future funding and donations. If you're interested in volunteering to help secure more food sources, or know of anyone in need of food support, let us know at 902-889-2735.
The Old School works with other health and social care providers along the Eastern Shore as part of the Well-Being HUBs project. This project supports community members and their care partners to age in place and transition into Continuing Care & Long-Term Care (LTC). Lesley Magee is the coordinator and Michelle Williams is the new HUBS Navigator. You can reach them at 902-889-2735; toll free at 1-833-393-2298; or by email at [email protected] More info at: www.theoldschool.ca/wellbeinghubs
With the stunning rise in housing prices and rents, finding adequate affordable housing has become one of our community’s greatest challenges. We are grateful to the United Way for their recent funding to hire Pam Macleod as our emergency housing “navigator.” In this role, she will help people find housing and arrange moving, intervene in disputes with landlords, and assist in filling out applications for housing. Email her directly at [email protected]
We are also putting together an affordable housing project for the region, working primarily with a Low Carbon Communities grant from the province. And with access to water being a limiting factor for all development in the Musquodoboit Harbour village core, we will be testing the long-neglected aquifer near the Dale Bennett ballfield, drilling a new well with a publicly accessible water pumphouse, water pump, and faucet.
Working in Partnership
Partnering with other groups expands the Old School’s ability to support additional programs. Our original partnership was with Eastern Shore Mental Health, through which we support the activities with care and clarity of Anita Carter Rose and her support people. More recently, we have partnered with Eastern Shore Pride, under the leadership of Brenda Hattie and Wayne Collette, which will be holding a second Pride Festival August 19-27.
In addition to the programs mentioned above, we have several ongoing programs, starting with the lush community garden that Jude Major manages. Every Tuesday, people interested in the fibre arts gather for Fiber Friends. For people with Parkinson’s and other movement challenges, we offer Enhance Through Dance every Friday, 11-12. This fall, Tai Chi classes will begin again, as will Eastern Shore Mental Health Peer Support on Sundays. And we will be taking over organizing Seaside Christmas across the Shore in November!
In addition to the staff mentioned above, you can also contact Lynn Howard, Lisa Nash, and our summer intern, Kate Jollimore, who are here to answer questions and guide you to the people you need to talk with.
Members of the Old School play a critical role in keeping all these balls in the air. You can become a member of the Old School for $20 a year for an individual, $35 for a family, $15 for seniors and students. If you can contribute more, we are a charity and accept donations for sustained support.
[Note Karen Bradley is the co-chair of the Old School Board. She is married to Cooperator editor Richard Bell.]