Brenda-Lee Hunter, founder of the Village Neighbourhood House in Langley City. (Brenda-Lee Hunter/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley non-profit owner helps families with back to school through new programs

Village Neighbourhood House has provides a space for parents to work while children play and learn

The Village Neighbourhood House in the heart of Langley City is the brainchild of Brenda-Lee Hunter – born out of a passion and life journey of fostering children.

With children returning to school and parents struggling to balance work and family life, Hunter wants people to know her new non-profit may be able to help during these transitional times.

After working within what she called the shattered system of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, it became her mission to try and help families in an “outside the box” way.

In July 2019, the doors of The Village Work & Play Space opened to the public, providing a co-work space for child to learn and play while parents worked, studied, or in some cases, napped in the same location.

“As a few short months went by, the following of families grew as did the list of services,” Hunter recalled. “The Village became a social gathering place for parent/tot groups, birthday parties, and eve as a workshop venue.”

Drop-off babysitting was also added as a solution to parents who had appointments that they could not bring their young children to.

And then March 17th – just as popularity was growing – the doors had to close due to COVID-19.

“The first logical step was to begin making masks. Having a background in sewing, this was a no-brainer,” she said.

In August, The Village partnered with Shelley Coburn to provide an outdoor market, which she said has been very well received by the community and has become a fabulous marketing stream.

During this time, however, Hunter said she began feeling extremely fatigued and knew busy parents were feeling the same; she knew a change had to be made in order to keep going.

After doing some research on Neighbourhood Houses, the business model was altered into a not-for-profit committee called The Every Child Matters Society.

READ MORE: Organizers of brand new downtown Langley craft market hope to fill a void this summer

Come September, she hopes to offer new programs to help families cope with all the “un-normalness” COVID has created.

“These would include a school-ready, after-school, and a schooling-away from-school program,” Hunter explained. “The latter would provide space, EA students, volunteers and staff to ensure children keep up on school assignments, and would also help with basic reading/math skills for the lower grades.”

Hunter said she is grateful to not only the volunteers and supporters, but also to her landlord who has been so kind and understanding through the past months.

“Without them, The Village would be nothing but a memory,” Hunter assured.

The Village Work and Play Space is located at 20471 Douglas Cres.

People can visit https://ecmmweb.wixsite.com/home for more information and programs.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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