For a West End organization, it’s all about the residents.
The Spence Neighbourhood Association (615 Ellice Ave.) received the Mayor’s Award for excellence in community service at the Mayor’s BIZ Awards at City Hall (510 Main St.) on May 23. Each Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) in Winnipeg nominates people or organizations in their community that they think deserves an award. The West End BIZ nominated both the SNA as well as the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association (DMSMCA) for the Mayor’s Award, and both received one.
"I guess maybe they didn’t want to pick one over the other," Jamil Mahmood, executive director for the SNA, said with a laugh.
"To get a Mayor’s Award, you have to be nominated by the BIZ in your neighbourhood, so it’s great to get that recognition," Kemlin Nembhard, executive director the DMSMCA, said. "We do a lot of work with the SNA and we collaborate a lot with them, so it’s great we were both recognized."
Nembhard said this is the first Mayor’s Award for the organization since it was established in 2007.
One of the things the DMSMCA focuses on is safety.
"We do safety in terms of things like senior safety and vehicle safety. Right now, we’re doing this program in collaboration with MPI (Manitoba Public Insurance) where we use their speed limit machine to raise awareness that you shouldn’t be speeding on residential streets," Nembhard said.
Mahmood said the SNA is a community development not-for-profit organization that works for the people of the neighbourhood.
"We are directed by the community. Our board is made up of 12 community members," Mahmood said. "Being resident-led is key for us. Residents have the voice. We make five-year plans, and they’re totally what they want to see. We do focus groups and surveys, and I think that’s why we’re so successful."
This isn’t the first Mayor’s Award for the SNA. Mahmood said when the organization, which started 14 years ago, was still new they received more recognition for their work, but Mahmood said he saw the lack of awards in the past several years as a positive thing.
"When SNA first started, we had five to six Mayor’s Awards, but it’s been a while since we’ve been recognized," Mahmood said. "We do things that are more ingrained with the community, so maybe the work we do is less noticeable."
The SNA focuses on five main areas: housing, safety, economic development, environment, and youth.
"We run 11 community gardens, we do homeowner fix-up grants to help people fix up the way their houses look," Mahmood said.
Mahmood said a lot of businesses in the neighbourhood have taken notice of the SNA’s work with youth, mentioning there’s a decrease in the amount of vandalism and graffiti in the area.
"(A lot of) youth are engaged in activities now. We’ve heard from a lot of businesses that it’s really helped them improve their business because they’re not dealing with kids in a negative way," Mahmood said.
The latest thing the SNA is working on is partnering with the University of Winnipeg to get an SNA staff member at the UNITED Health and RecPlex to make sure members of the community can have access to the facility.
For more information about the SNA, visit spenceneighbourhood.org
For more information on the DMSMCA, go to dmsmca.ca