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Inspirational Black Individuals: HSH Community Partners

Home Suite Hope Executive Director Sara Cumming and Interim Case Manager Nikkian Hanson recently attended the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH) Black History Month Celebration kickoff at the Oakville Centre.

“It was an amazing event with 400 attendees. It was the CCAH’s 45th anniversary and the kickoff to Black History Month, but we need to remember Black individuals do amazing things EVERY month not just in February,” said Sara.

The CCAH was established in 1977 and promotes awareness that unity in diversity, full and active participation, unbiased inclusion, and the capacity to value differences equally are essential to the social, cultural, and economic growth of Halton. Membership is open to anyone who shares those interests and objectives and there are lots of opportunities for youths to get involved.

Led today by Andrew Tyrrell, the CCAH was championed over many years by the lat – for whom the Town of Oakville has named a park - Veronica Tyrrell Park, 3183 Buttonbush Trail, Oakville - and declared August 27 to be Veronica Tyrrell Day.

Veronica was the long-time CCAH president and instrumental in expanding the agency’s profile within the community. She was an exemplary community leader and a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion.

The CCAH works closely with Halton Region schools, operates a community steel band and offers programs including: New Horizons for Seniors, Parang, Sizzlin’ Halton Caribbean Cooking, a library Reading Corner focusing on Black authors in Milton, and Black history bike and walking tours in Oakville.

The CCAH participates in events including: Black History Month, Emancipation Day, Culture Days and the Carousel of Nations.

It also partners with the Halton Regional Police Service to enhance its community-based policing approach as well as co-delivers diversity and youth-focused programs.

The gala celebrated the theme Connecting Communities. It featured guest speaker Diana Cooper-Clarke on Jamaica’s role in sheltering Jews during WW2 as well as musical performances by Arlene Duncan, Miriam Lee and the Oakville Choral Society, and the CCAH Steel Band. It also included Legacy Voices from local community members and Gimaa (Chief) Stacey LaForme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation addressing Connecting Communities.

The CCAH is one of many community organizations with which Home Suite Hope connects where we get to know many people with inspiring stories such as Andrew Tyrrell.

One of those partners is Sheridan College. Many of HSH's mentors are Sheridan faculty and staff, but they are also students. One such individual is our current intern Temisha Jacques.

Temisha Jacques is completing her practicum with Home Suite Hope.

"I am thrilled to have an opportunity to work and learn here over a period of eight months. I have my Support Worker (PSW) certificate and Child and Youth Care (CYC) Diploma. I have over five years of experience working with the vulnerable population, including children, youths, adults and seniors.

During the pandemic, I decided to change my career, leading me to where I am now. With a strong-rooted passion for advocacy, my lived experiences and an anti-oppressive lens, I hope to fit into the team dynamic well. After completion of my program, I plan to work towards achieving a Bachelor's degree in social work.

I chose Home Suite Hope because I acknowledge and have overcome many of the struggles that single mothers endure. I understand the importance of having a network of vital support services for single parents and their children. Working with Home Suite Hope, I plan to utilize the theoretical theories I have learned in the program so far and gain insights into how I can best support clients transitioning from poverty to stability.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my two daughters and working on my self-care."

Summit Housing and Outreach Programs is a community partner with HSH. Summit Housing & Outreach Programs (under the name of Summit House) was created in 1981 in response to the desperate need for supportive affordable housing for people with diagnosed mental illnesses. ( HSH can refer clients to Summit Housing and vice versa.

Abiola Akinremi is a Registered Nurse, who graduated from York University, and has worked as a nurse for over 11 years. She is currently working in the community as a Mental Health Nurse at Summit Housing & Outreach Program. Abiola’s philosophy is that healthcare really starts with prevention and providing care to clients at home and in their community.

As part of the ACT team in Summit Housing, Abiola is one of the nurses supporting clients. This role includes services primarily provided in community settings, but may also occur in facility settings. Summit Housing ACTT provides core mental health and addictions services, including assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, and support for clients in partnership with client, family and community health care resources. It encourages client rehabilitation plans and maintains a full range of clinical services and client-centered rehabilitation programs.

Summit Housing & Outreach Programs (under the name of Summit House) was created in 1981 in response to the desperate need for supportive affordable housing for people with diagnosed mental illnesses.

Affordable Housing Advocates

Home Suite Hope has also connected with two successful local women in its exploration to augment affordable local housing – Shelley Morgan and Melissa Davis.

Dr. Shelley Morgan graduated from the University of Western Ontario and then SUNY at Buffalo School of Pharmacy. After graduation she worked in a community Pharmacy in Niagara Falls, NY as well as at Chedoke-McMaster Hospital as a Clinical Pharmacist to both the Stroke and Acquired Brain Injury programs.

Now she is a community pharmacist in Oakville, where she is responsible for direct patient care, dispensing prescriptions and CEO of the app Rx Billing Genie.

Melissa Davis is President of Ugly Dukling Inc., an influential lifestyle brand boutique that collaborates with iconic brands, blockbuster films and celebrities to create capsule collections, which are launched through exciting and memorable immersive experiences.

Melissa, the brand architect of Ugly Dukling is a creative visionary and a strong advocate for culture. Melissa and her brand are the first to open sneaker boutiques inside a fashion retailer, inside TOPSHOP/TOPMAN, and will do so again by launching a hair extension and wig boutique in luxury department stores this spring.

Past Ugly Dukling collab collections include, Dwyane Wade x Godfather’s 45th anniversary, Kyrie Irving x Uncle Drew, LeBron James x Space Jam, Barbie 60th anniversary & Tweety Bird’s 80th anniversary.

The Globe & Mail recognized Ugly Dukling as a top 10 business in Canada. Melissa was honored with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Halton and Hamilton

Former Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Halton and Hamilton CEO Melissa Christiani Pollard and current Program Lead Bianca Burns are two people HSH staff speak highly of.

Melissa stepped into her former role after serving as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Erie and in a Manager, Business Process & Strategic Initiatives Manager role with Activa Group.

Melissa studied Business/Managerial Economics at University of Waterloo.

Bianca Burns joined BBBS of Halton & Hamilton after serving as the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator with the Oakville Parent-Child Centre and as a Case Manager with BBBS Halton & Hamilton.

Bianca studied Social Service Work at Sheridan College and earned a Bachelor of Science, Technology and Society at York University.



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