Norwest Co-op Community Health Center celebrates its anniversary
INKSTER INDUSTRIAL PARK
A health center in northwest Winnipeg is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“Fifty years ago, our community came together. There was no support in the neighborhood, so the community started our co-op,” said Nancy Heinrichs, executive director of the Norwest Co-op Community Health Center, adding that the organization started with primary care services. and a daycare. “It’s really community driven and we’re the only health co-op in Manitoba.
Norwest has approximately 160 employees and offers a range of services, including primary health care and a counseling unit with support for families and young people. They also have community development services at Manitoba Housing and were the first organization in Winnipeg to create a “gathering hub” where youth could connect with services and resources in one easy-to-access location.
Heinrichs, who served as executive director of Norwest for 20 years, believes the organization has grown over the past five decades because it focuses on community needs.
“When I started, there were about 32 people in Norwest, and we worked really hard to meet the needs of the community and grow,” Heinrichs said. “I stayed because our staff and board are doing an amazing job, and I loved being able to see what we could build to support our community.”
During the pandemic, Norwest helped groups make and sell face masks and developed a catering group so the organization could distribute thousands of meals to people in need.
“We try to help the community grow,” Heinrichs said. “We really focus on building capacity within our community and for our community members.”
Norwest Co-op Community Health Center celebrated 50 years with a community celebration on the grounds of Shaughnessy Park on June 20. trucks.
“It was really fun to see our community and so much of our Norwest staff come together to celebrate,” Heinrichs said. “Our services are invaluable to people, and we’ve worked very hard to get closer to where they live and where they feel comfortable. We wanted to make it accessible and for it to be a safe space.
During her tenure as CEO, two highlights for Heinrichs were the formation of Western Canada’s largest food center and the creation of her youth hub five years ago. Since then, five other sites in Manitoba have followed the Norwest model.
Now that Norwest has reached five decades of service, the organization plans to launch a Community Forum that will expand the Community Food Center to have a garden, outdoor counseling areas and a drop-in space for community members. They are also renovating a new site for counseling services and producing a documentary about Norwest.
“When I started 20 years ago and there were 32 people, I never thought that today we would be seated at 160,” Heinrichs said. “For us to have the number of programs that we have, no one would have believed it.”
For more information about the Norwest Co-op Community Health Center, visit www.norwestcoop.ca
Kelsey James is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2018 with a major in Journalism and holds a BA in Rhetoric, Writing and Communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to cover the neighborhoods she still calls “home”.
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