New Faces and Goodbyes at Bruce House

It has been a busy few months for us!

Anna Brunzema has left us for an exciting new job.  We miss her in the office, but wish her well in her new adventures!

Fatema Farahat, our part-time Finance Assistant, has moved on to a full-time job.  We really appreciate all her work and her kindness.

Ayan Jama is on parental leave for the next year.  Congrats to Ayan and Sammy on the birth of their daughter, Nia!

Dominique has joined us over recent months working part-time as a Peer Food Program Assistant, thanks to grants from Food Banks Canada and the City of Ottawa.  You will find Dom working to unpack our food deliveries, keeping the pantry organized, and helping us compile a list of community food resources as well as helping us with client services. You may remember him from a past appeal letter.

David Dunnigan and Grace Kelly-Gorman have joined our staff as well, welcome David and Grace!

Grace Kelly-Gorman joined us this summer thanks to a grant from Canada Summer Jobs.  She is working at reception to greet clients, help them access our food programs, and assist with delivering programs and services.

Photo of Grace Kelly Gorman

Clients immediately commented on how warm and inviting Grace is. She quickly jumped in to help, impressing us with her work to improve her ability to help clients in French and going out of her way to ensure everyone leaves our office with a smile. Her creativity has also embellished our thank-you cards and the birthday cards we send out to clients.

We have been able to extend Grace’s contract until mid-October thanks to a grant from Food Banks Canada.  Bruce House is proud to be able to give young people like her an opportunity to develop employment skills and offer mentoring.

image of 4 thank-you cards hand made by Grace


Bruce House welcomes David Dunnigan to our team!  David will be working with us for the next year as our Program Support and Development Coordinator, while Ayan is on leave.  Please allow him to introduce himself:

photo of new staff member David

A client said something to me today that struck me at the core. We were discussing where he was to stay for the night, our office was getting closer to closing time, and he said to me, “Well what am I supposed to do? You are going to go home in an hour, and I still don’t know what to do.” I was speechless for a moment because it brought a vicious blow to the gut, fossilizing an ingrained memory of what used to be one of the darkest moments of each day, when I would watch everyone leave the downtown core to their family as I walked to my humble abode, a cubby found on Rideau Street. Empathy is a guider, a driver, and a lifesaver.  Although these moments hurt, they are why I am here. 

I’ve been given a gift, one often mistaken as a tragedy—at the age of 17 I entered the social service system. Already in the firm grip of alcoholism, I had no notion to what depths my future would dive.

The next gift I was given came in the form of a question—a question I still don’t have the slightest clue about answering— “how is it possible that the individual then, and the individual now, exist within the same person?” This question is a gift because I now know that two vastly different worlds can be seen and experienced through the same set of eyes. I now know that the same mind that was once incapable of grasping any glimmer of hope can also now provide hope for others.

The last gift I will mention is one I have been more recently given. That is my second introduction to the social service system at 28 years old, having just graduated from a 2-year program in Mental Health and Addiction. My resume was slim, with little visible evidence of any knowledge or experience proving I could be of any use in this field. So, this gift came in the form of an opportunity I once only once dreamt of being given. You could not pay me, the previous me, any amount of money to believe that I would be coming to see my new family on the same streets I once watched others go to theirs!

Bruce House is a family. I felt that the minute I walked through the door for the interview. Family is a loaded word with many meanings for many people, but the sense of family exhibited at Bruce House has allowed me to experience the full spectrum of that word. So, I thank Bruce House for welcoming me to this nurturing family. 

My goal is quite simple: to have every individual who takes their first step on that old grey carpet be saturated with the same overwhelming sense of comfort and security my first step granted me. If I can do that, most of my work is done!

Empathy, hope, and empowerment were once just watered-down words with no tactile meaning for me, but it is at Bruce House these words are not just talked about but lived through action. There is great joy that accompanies this work. Although, I do think those I work with bring the bulk of that joy. 

— David