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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Alexandra Neighbourhood House : a survey of the origins and development of a Vancouver institution in relation to its local environment Helm, Elmer Joseph


This thesis is concerned with the function of Alexandra House and the role it has played in the neighbourhood. Special attention has been devoted to the period from 1938, when the agency became a neighbourhood house, to April 1952. In the historical sketch emphasis is placed on programme, staff, and administration of the agency. The social and physical transitions within the neighbourhood are also considered, in relation to their influence on the role of Alexandra House. The material for the study was gained from annual and monthly reports, minutes of staff and Board of Directors' meetings, interviews with agency personnel, surveys made of the area, and other material secured through the co-operation of the agency and the Community Chest. The function of the agency and its services was analyzed on the basis of a series of criteria of neighbourhood-house operation. Comparison of the early non-professional staff with the present professional staff was possible, by analyzing the programmes of the two different periods. The thesis shows that social and economic changes within an area influence the attitudes and the needs of the people; an institution must change appropriately in order to meet the needs of the residents. The study also reveals the necessity of professional staff to perform a qualitative job. However, not only should a neighbourhood house programme evolve from the needs of the community, but the people within the community should assume more and more responsibility for their activities. A quality programme has evolved slowly with the aid of professionally-trained workers. Good leadership emphasizes quality rather than quantity; but it also illustrates that co-operation between all personnel is required for maximum efficiency, and that volunteers and students are able to contribute to the programme more effectively with proper supervision from professional staff. Looking at the future, the study reveals the need for a re-statement of this function, as the changes within the neighbourhood bring changes in the neighbours, and some drastic redevelopment possibilities loom for the district.

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