Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House

Posted on: October 13th, 2015 by The East Village


This week we’re stepping a little outside of the boundaries and highlighting Frog Hollow Neighborhood House, who are located at 2131 Renfrew Street. Frog Hollow have been very supportive of our community events and activities in past years, so we thought it was time to shine some light on the good things they do.

Frog Hollow is a non-profit organization working with youth to strengthen community bonds through a wide variety of programs and services. Running under the umbrella of Neighborhood Houses of BC, Frog Hollow offers a wide variety of community activities and services, mostly free of charge.

Everything from language classes, computer lessons, to programs designed for new Pemanent Residents and New Canadians -- Frog Hollow offers a supportive and relaxing atmosphere where children and parents or caregivers can meet and socialize. The majority of the programs at Frog Hollow are designed to provide positive child development, promote school readiness skills and introduce families to the resources and supports in their community.

The Community Action Program for Children or CAPC is an example of some the great services Frog Hollow provides. Supporting families with children from birth to six years old, the CAPC program aims to promote the health and well being of young children and infants. The programs include fun and educational activities such as family drop -in programs, parent education courses,  parent- led groups and information and referral services.

The Youth program is another wonderful support system, offering guidance and a safe environment to help youth discover their unique contribution in the community. We recently chatted with Molina, who runs the Youth Programs at Frog Hollow. “I feel like I live here,” she says smiling. “This place is like my second home.” 

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When we ask Molina what she loves about the work she does at Frog Hollow, she says it’s the variety of it all that keeps her days exciting. “I love the fact that I get to create and do new things all the time,” Molina says. “My job is never boring --  This job challenges me and I am constantly learning.”

A resident of Grandview-Woodland, Molina says she enjoys the area, and supports its merchants whenever she can. “I love supporting the locals through shopping, and I love being mindful of what is out there in this neighbourhood – and if a youth asks me where I got something, I can tell them that I purchased it in this area and that they can do the same.”

Molina says that inclusiveness is paramount at Frog Hollow, and that everyone is welcome. “We are very multilingual here at the neighbourhood house. If you speak a different language we try to tell people to not be afraid to come in and get acquainted,” Molina says. “We have a staff who speak many different languages. We want people to have a sense of belonging – and we want to be able to support them through their transition from wherever they are coming from.”

For more information about Frog Hollow Neighborhood House and its services, visit their website, and don’t forget to

stay social on Facebook!

Free Geek

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by The East Village


In today’s age of ever-changing technology, it’s now more important than ever before to dispose of your old, unwanted computer in an ethical way. That’s where Free Geek comes in, offering a drop off or pickup service for your donations.

free geek
We recently spoke with Mike, who started out as a volunteer with Free Geek in the Spring of 2011, and quickly became a full-time employee shortly thereafter. Free Geek currently has about 200 active volunteers, something Mike says is crucial to its success. “Without volunteers it would not be possible to run this organization,” he tells us.

“I previously was a technical writer and I took time off work, and decided to volunteer here,” Mike says. “I envisioned myself working for a tech squad at a best buy or some sort, but I didn’t know the technical software aspect of it. So I came here and learned the technical software and took on all the laptop work. Now laptops are a quarter of our sales revenue now. I stayed because there was the opportunity to make myself a job, but we also run on consensus here and all staff have an equal say which I really like but also doing something worthwhile.”

“This place is good for the soul,” Mike continues. “I look forward coming into work every day, and I get to work with really great people. This is the best job I’ve ever had and I will definitely stay.”

With thousands of donations per year, it’s clear that businesses like Free Geek are an important part of keeping our ‘hood green. Anything that can’t be reused is recycled locally and ethically, and the rest is rebuilt or refurbished -- then sold to the community at a discounted rate through their Thrift Store. Everything from desktops, keyboards, phones, laptops and gaming devices available.

For the last three years, Free Geek have been hosting Open Help Nights as well. Every Wednesday you can pop in for free tech support, no appointment necessary, absolutely free of charge. “We set a record last week, when 23 people came in for help!” Mike says enthusiastically. “We help with everything from getting onto the internet and other complex issues like software problems.”
If you’re interested in computers and want to learn more, Free Geek is always looking for new volunteers, experienced or otherwise. Learn about the ins and outs of computers, electronics, and recycling, and build relationships with likeminded people who are passionate about electronics, computers, recycling, and Free and Open Source Software.
Located at 1820 Pandora Street, Free Geek is open for Volunteering on Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm; Thrift Store is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am-6pm; and Public Tours take place on every Saturday, from 4-5pm. Visit their website  for more information, and don’t forget to stay social on Twitter  and Facebook, too!

Shoppers Drug Mart

Posted on: October 2nd, 2015 by The East Village


Whether you’re looking for the latest in beauty, stocking up on toiletries, or just looking to fill a prescription -- the friendly staff at Shoppers Drug Mart have got you covered. Open since 2006, our local Hastings-Sunrise branch employs around fifty full-time and part-time staff, all under the helm of owner and Head Pharmacist Anoop Khurana, who has been with the company for nearly a decade.

“I love the community feel, I can tell people in this area are really interested in giving back,” Anoop tells us. “With Shoppers, every store is individually owned, so we have a lot of say in what we choose to do for the community. I can see that this area is really appreciated. It’s also an older area too; it’s very diverse, it’s ethnically diverse too,” he continues. “There is also a lot of really cool places opening up. There is a really big community feel here, and I can’t say that about a lot of areas in Vancouver -- and I have worked in quite a few other places in B.C., too.”

When we ask Anoop what he loves about his work as a Pharmacist, he says it’s the simple thank-you’s that mean the most to him. “I love making a difference,” he says. “I know it is health oriented, but I really appreciate it when a client will call and say thank you for the help that really made a difference. I also love working with the doctors. But also with my specific role I love leading and coaching a team, and then just giving back to the community.”

Giving back to the community is very important to Anoop and his staff at Shoppers, and long-running charity programs like Growing Women’s Health are near and dear to everyone who works at the store.


The charity provides much needed funds for different women’s health charities around Vancouver. “Every store can choose a local charity, where 100% of the proceeds will go to,” Anoop explains. “It is a four week campaign, from Sept 12th to Oct 9th. This year as well as last, BC Women’s Hospital Health Centre will be the recipient of moneys raised. “BC Women’s Hospital aids in Vancouver, but it affects everyone in this area,” Anoop says. “Whether you know someone who has a child, your mom -- many people go to that hospital.”

Customers are welcomed to donate at whichever level they can afford, and are invited to write their name on a leaf, apple or butterfly cut-out which will be put it on display for the community to see. “This year our goal is $3000, and we’re already at the half-way mark,” Anoop says happily. “Next week we will also be holding a bake sale, where some of our staff will bring some baked goods which will go towards the fundraising. We also do other charity campaigns throughout the year but this is the biggest one.”

Alicia has worked at Shoppers for a little over a year, and is responsible for collecting and managing donations as well as the leaf displays. As Shoppers’ Women’s Health Ambassador, Alicia has also put together a gift basket, where people can put their name in the draw if they have made a $5 dollar donation. Alicia is also organizing the bake sale which will be held on October 8th, with her co-worker Karen, helping with the baking. The value of the basket is $450, and includes fragrances, skin care products, and much more.

The store also holds an annual Cosmetics Gala, with proceeds benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. “They use the donations to buy MammoVans, a mobile Mammography screening system to help those in rural areas. Shoppers has supplied the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation with three of these vans to date, which cost around almost a million dollars each. These MammoVans go to small towns in BC.

Shoppers Drug Mart also organizes an annual Ride Don’t Hide event, a bike race for women’s mental health, as well as a charity softball tournament to raise money, where the winning team will choose a charity of their choice to receive the donation.

Visit Shoppers Drug Mart’s website to learn more about the company. Stay social on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for the latest.

The Kettle Society

Posted on: September 29th, 2015 by The East Village


Running since 1976, The Kettle Society is a local non-for-profit that supports people with mental illness to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. They do this by providing housing, employment, advocacy and support services; raising awareness of mental health issues and breaking down the stigma and barriers for people with mental illness, and promoting inclusion of people living with mental illness in all aspects of society.

The Kettle originally began operation from their flagship location on Venables, and have since expanded to a second building on East Hastings. We recently spoke with Ken, who is currently in his twenty-sixth year with the organization, who explained the group required more space for its human resources team and housing staff. “The housing, medical clinic, the advocacy, the outreach all came out of the drop-in, and the Drop in started at Commercial Drive,” Ken explains. “We also have housing buildings at Burrard, Tailor Manor, Triumph, East 8th and we have Camille house for women and Peggy’s Place – a transition, emergency house.”

The Kettle Society

“In the drop run we run about 18 programs a week, both internal and external,” says Chris, another employee who has been working with The Kettle for the last thirteen years. “Today we have a fantastic Friday which is a bus trip. But on Tuesday we have a craft day, and we have a bowling program. These are programs that originated from the membership. But we also recently brought back our baking group, where people can learn some skills in the kitchen and also take some goodies home too.”

With such long-standing, devoted employees -- it’s pretty clear to see the passion and dedication for what Ken and Chris do each day. “We just came back from a camping trip along the Indian arm -- it’s very eye opening,” says Ken. “We pick clients who haven’t had a break from the city, and we take a boat up along the arm and we go and camp. Just to see the change in people when they are out there.”

“Another big event we (participate in) is the Eastside Cultural Crawl, that is quite big,” Ken continues. “All the art in this building is from the East Side Crawl. The money for the art goes directly to the artist as well. We also have picnic down at Trout Lake every year. “

“Every January we have a dinner, Santa Claus and a live band,” Chris adds. “We’ve done it for a few years, but in December every person that is homeless or in need of help there is tons to go too. Come January, everyone is broke, and there isn’t much going on. So we felt we could do a Christmas in January, where people can bring their kids and receive gifts. It’s such a life changing thing for people. It affects everyone, including the staff.”

With a number of valuable community and housing programs available, organizations like The Kettle are truly making a difference for thousands of people in need. “Clients come in to the drop in and say the Kettle feels like home,” Chris says proudly. “It is home for them. They can feel safe here, and come and not feel judged.”

Visit The Kettle Society’s website for more information, and don’t forget to stay social on Twitter and Facebook.  

Port + Quarter

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by The East Village


Whether you’re looking to spruce up your dated decor, or making the move into your first home -- the friendly and talented designers at Port+Quarter are here to help. With a focus on multifamily and residential projects, the talented team handles everything from the ground up, picking the flooring to completing the technical drawings.

“We are on our 10th project,” Kyla tells us enthusiastically. We’ve met with her in the Port + Quarter office, a cozy little space just above Doan’s Brewery where they’ve been for the last four years. “It’s not the typical space for an office, but when people get here they say oh this is awesome,” Kyla smiles. “It’s also really convenient for where all of us live. I think this area speaks to our style as well, as our design style is more on the grittier masculine side.”

Port and Quarter

Currently tackling the interior design at the Novella, a sophisticated new complex being built in Coquitlam, Kyla tells us that working with condo developers wasn’t the original plan for Port+Quarter. “When we first started we did not think that we were going to take this route, but there is so much work for this industry here, being in Vancouver,” she says. “(But) a lot of the projects we have gotten is because we are the target (market) for the developer who is building the condo or apartment -- so we can really say what we ourselves -- and people like us -- would want in that apartment.”

Michelle handles mostly multi-family projects at P+Q, and when we ask her what she likes most about her work, she tells us it comes down to the fact that they are creating something that has a bit of a legacy. “Because people are going to live and use these spaces,” she says, “and to know that someone is going to use the space and all the decisions we have made will affect them on a day to day business.”  

“I like being the advocate for the end user,” Michelle continues. “We are doing a penthouse in New West for a retiring couple, and I love the fact that they are going to move into a place that’s created to perfection for them and that they can enjoy it for the last 20 years of their lives. And with multifamily, 120 families can move in and we get to be a part of that. We also try not to re-use specs, we try to make something different for each project. It’s our mandate. With so many developments coming up, it’s nice to make each project a little unique.”

“My favourite part of the job is clients,” Kyla says. “I love doing residential and I love creating relationships with them. I also like to analyze what their likes and life is like even when they don’t know what they want as the end result.”

Currently designing the Portland Pop-Up IDSWest (which features five industrial designers from PDX showing off everything from outdoor furniture to hooks) the ladies from Port+Quarter will also have a booth of their own. With a new website on the way and Brittany, a new full time designer joining the pair, things are looking mighty bright for this talented team.

Stay social on Twitter and Instagram for the latest on Port+Quarter!   

Donald’s Market

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by The East Village


Opening in December of 1986, Donald’s Market is a neighborhood fave when it comes to all things fresh and delicious. With a whopping 68 employees on staff, the shop has become a trusted source when it comes to affordable produce, and hard to find organic cooking and baking products.

We recently caught up with Gary Joe, who started out as a part-time employee way back in 1986, and is still with the Hastings Street shop today. “I was working part time,” Gary says, “and I was in high school at the time. We didn’t have any titles when we first started -- it was just family. There wasn’t a bunch of staff, we all did everything. Back then I grew up working here and I have friends who grew up here as well so I would spend a lot of time here and there are lots of memories.”

That kind of family mentality still exists today at Donald’s, something that is evident to anyone who might have a hard time finding something. Just ask a friendly Donald’s employee, and they’ll happily help you find what you’re looking for.Donalds

When we ask Gary what he likes most about his job, he tells us it’s his love of exploration and food that keep him excited about his work. “I like the sense of food – new products,” Gary says. “It’s exciting to bring in new products that might not be in the market yet. That manufacturers aren’t into yet, but we get them into our store first.”

Besides donations and support with organizations around the area, Donald’s also offer free deliveries. “We work with St James, The Kettle Society, the BIA, Kiwassa, and Frog Hollow. Our most recent connection is Collingwood neighbourhood house. But we also do work for Coastal Health Society; are very connected with the community,” Gary says.

With a new shop set to open in Port Coquitlam, the future growth of Donald’s Market is looking bright. “We’re an independently owned company,” Gary says enthusiastically. “We never thought we would expand to PoCo. But we have a lot of demand from that area, so we took an opportunity and are now opening a space there.”

Stay up to date on Donald’s weekly specials through their website, and don’t forget to stay social on Twitter.