Staff and current and former board members celebrate the groundbreaking of the new location of Hamilton Urban Core CHC, along with the Mayor of Hamilton and Sarah Hobbs, CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities.

[Celebrating the groundbreaking at Hamilton Urban Core CHC's new location.]

It was a ground-breaking ceremony literally generations in the making.

On September 29, friends and family of the late Denise J. Brooks, former executive director at Hamilton Urban Core CHC (HUCCHC), gathered alongside board members, volunteers, health centre staff, community members and local leaders in Hamilton to celebrate the beginning of construction on what will be the new home for the Community Health Centre. They also gathered to honour and fulfill the vision and dream of Denise for a better future for her community and the people served by HUCCHC.

A driving force for health equity in the Hamilton region, Hamilton Urban Core CHC and its dedicated staff and volunteers have for many years operated out of a refurbished bus terminal that suffered from mold among other serious issues.

The future, set to take shape at 430 Cannon Street East over 2022 and 2023, will be a bright, 26,000-square-foot space where the CHC will offer all its programming under one roof. That will include the Consumption and Treatment Services, dental, chiropody, mental health counselling, addictions services, programs for youth, health promotion for seniors, nutrition programs (enhanced by a new, large industrial kitchen!), newcomer services, and of course, access to primary care through physicians and nurse practitioners.

The new building will have a capacity to serve 9,100 clients/year, with a 15% increase in the number of people served. Learn more about the capital project, including how you can still donate and support.

A new courtyard and shared common spaces will also serve to build on a sense of belonging that is strong among clients of Hamilton Urban Core.

 “We’re going to create a welcoming environment that creates a sense of belonging for people, with more room for health promotion services and more,” said HUCCHC Executive Director Nhlaloenhle ‘Nala’ Ndawana at the moving ceremony and tribute to Denise Brooks’ vision held at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in downtown Hamilton. The Church is also the temporary site of the CHC’s CTS program while the new location is being built, allowing for the vital services to continue uninterrupted.

A client took centre stage to begin with to share the details of support for a loved one with a serious health diagnosis, and the “circle of care” that surrounds people and their families at Hamilton Urban Core. Subsequent speakers included previous HUCCHC board chair Jane Mulkewich, who spoke of the barriers that both Denise Brooks and the entire community faced down to get the project to reality, and Alliance CEO Sarah Hobbs, who noted that we need to do more to ensure communities have the resources and facilities they need to achieve health equity outcomes.

Liben Gebremikael, Alliance Board Chair and Executive Director of TAIBU CHC in Scarborough, also spoke, celebrating the vision of Denise Brooks, and also the sheer unwillingness to give up. “Home is the foundation for everything, and thanks to Denise’s leadership — true leadership for others — and the work of the community, that home is going to be a reality soon for Hamilton Urban Core and the people they serve.”

Faith, political and community leaders added their voices to this special event. As the centre waits, we look forward to bringing you the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the months ahead, as Hamilton heads towards a major milestone in the history of community health care.