Houston Link to Learning thriving after several grants

Organization upgrading kitchen, hiring new position

Approximately 45 people are involved with Houston Link to Learning’s Community Garden. (Submitted photo)

The tide has turned for the Houston Link to Learning, a non-profit organization that offers various programs in the community.

While funding for programs after September was uncertain until the beginning of March, several grants have now come through, said Manager Marian Ells, noting the latest grant, which came through just a couple of weeks ago, will pay for about half of their kitchen upgrade.

“We went from thinking, ‘I don’t know if we are going to have jobs in September’ to, ‘We need to hire more people’,” said Manager Marian Ells, noting the organization is currently seeking a literacy program coordinator to oversee multiple programs.

Link to Learning received about $30,000 through Capital Project Grants and another $30,000 through the Northern Development Initiative Trust to upgrade the centre’s kitchen, which is used for several of their programs.

Ells said Link to Learning used to have a more adequate kitchen when their centre was located inside the Houston campus of the Northwest Community College. But when the campus closed in 2017, they had to move to a smaller location.

“We really didn’t have an adequate kitchen, and we do a lot of our programming with food,” said Ells, noting they have a policy of always offering food with their programs. “It’s hard for families to participate when they’re hungry, so we always have food and snacks available.”

Their flagship program is called Food Skills for Families. Run in conjunction with Diabetes Canada, it teaches people how to shop and cook meals that are easy to make, affordable and healthy, said Ells.

Earlier this year, Link to Learning also received $65,000 through the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund to operate the Life Skills Education and Career Prep program, which helps people prepare for the job market.

In addition, Ells said the Ministry of Advanced Education has confirmed funding for the organization’s Adults and Family Literacy Program, and they also received smaller grants from TD bank and Northern Health for their Community Garden.

With approximately 45 people involved, the Community Garden has been one of their “success stories”, she said.

“People don’t often see the connection between garden and literacy, but there’s a lot of learning that happens in that garden,” said Ells, adding the organization also runs workshops at the garden. “It’s a strategy to getting people talking to each other and passing knowledge on.”

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