The Alexandra Foundation was founded in 1977, but it is part of a legacy that began more than 120 years ago, with the opening of Alexandra House in 1891 as a Vancouver women’s and children’s hospital. The hospital was converted to an orphanage in 1904, and in 1938 became BC’s first neighbourhood house.
Alexandra House was a place of love and charm, and the start of what was to become a long heritage of service to Vancouver’s neighbourhoods through the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC). Affectionately known as “Big Pink,” the house dominated the corner of 7th Avenue and Pine in Vancouver.
As a neighbourhood house, it was an active neighbourhood centre open to all families, offering programs such as a preschool daycare and providing a place for seniors to gather and meet friends. It was also used as a youth hostel from 1969 to 1971.
“Big Pink” was destroyed by a fire in 1975. But from the ashes rose an opportunity – the property was sold by ANHBC and the money was used to establish The Alexandra Foundation for Neighbourhood Houses two years later.
In addition to awarding grants for neighbourhood house projects and the creation of new neighbourhood houses, the Foundation has expanded to offer bursaries and grants for children and youth. These funds have been inspired by people who have exhibited exemplary commitment to students and their education, and a passion for building stronger neighbourhoods together.
As a non-governmental organization, the Foundation’s purpose is to support Neighbourhood Houses in BC and similar community groups that aspire to become neighbourhood houses. Income generated by the fund provides grants and loans to further the aims and objectives of the neighbourhood house movement. A primary goal of the Alexandra Foundation is to assist in the critical start-up phase of new Neighbourhood House organizations and to support the expansion of existing Neighbourhood Houses.
The Alexandra Foundation is supported by a trust fund, investment income, individual gifts and bequests. For more than 30 years, bequests and donations have helped to build neighbourhood houses in the lower mainland and BC.