‘Knowing Your Neighbour Gives Confidence’

          Most of us count ourselves lucky to have a helpful, friendly neighbour in times of crisis or need. Phil Jackson is one of those neighbours.

          A retired teacher, Phil works as a volunteer with Immigrant Services Kingston and Area and the Kingston Community Health Centres. In his spare time, he still volunteers.

          Phil and about 30 residents of the Shipyards apartment complex on Ontario Street took it upon themselves to help their fellow neighbours. Their goal is to provide help and support to people who need practical help or just someone to talk to.

          Phil’s volunteers − they have no formal name − escort residents to medical appointments, help with laundry, shopping and other chores, and just check up on one another. The volunteers also organize social events, such as birthday celebrations, luncheons, wine and cheese parties, and potlucks to fundraise for local charities.

          They’ve also set up exercise groups in the building, which are run at no charge by a resident trainer. Individuals of all ages and physical abilities are welcome to participate. Yoga classes are also available for a reduced fee.

          The swimming pool is open from mid-June to mid-September but “there are more discussions taking place than actual swimming,” says Phil, who has lived in the Shipyards with his wife, Marilyn, and dog, Buster, for 10 years.  One of the most aesthetically pleasing activities is the garden, which is tended by residents during the warmer months.

          The objective is “to build social capital in the community so that people who are facing challenges have someone to go to and can access regular help if they need it,” Phil says. The organized social events encourage greater interaction among neighbours, plus nurture a sense of community within new and old tenants, he adds.

          The Shipyards volunteer community always welcomes new members. “If someone wants to be part of the community volunteers, the only requirement is that you are willing to participate,” says Phil.

         “It is always good to have new people in the community. Knowing your neighbour gives confidence.”


− Sanket Sathiya and Daniel Esin

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