Community Service Committee - Improving the Quality of Life

Community Service
 

Community Service Committee - Our Mandate

 

The committee is responsible for supporting programs for the purpose of improving the quality of life for certain segments of the population in our urban community.  This may include those groups who are most vulnerable to the economic, social and environmental challenges of an urban environment – the homeless, single-parent families’ recent immigrants and the poor.  The committee meets monthly-please check with the Committee Chair for meeting times and location.

 

Community Service Committee - Annual Report 2016-2017- Karen Scott

Our small committee consisted of Marcy Berg, Kerry Bowser (Secretary), James Hunter (Board Liaison), John Lloyd (Past Chair 2015-16), John Joseph Mastandrea, Karen Scott (Chair) and Jonathan Wu. This year, we were dedicated and determined to raise the profile of our committee within our club and engage more actively with our community agencies who meet food insecurity needs.  To help achieve these goals, we decided our committee meetings would be in person on the fourth Friday of each month following our Rotary lunch. In addition, we sat together at these lunches which provided us with further opportunity to strengthen our bonds and for dialogue.
 
In terms of the highlights for this year, we supported several small high impact projects that fall within our mandate.
 
St. Simon’s Shelter – $2,400 in support of their Christmas dinner for approximately 75 residents. The men enjoyed a traditional meal of turkey and all of the trimmings which brought much holiday joy. We had had the opportunity to meet with Executive Director Bob Duff to learn more about the shelter and take a tour. Bob shared his own compelling story and talked to us about the men for whom St. Simon’s is home. I won’t say anything more in this report as the club will get to hear Bob Duff when he is our guest speaker in October.
 
Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre – $3,000 for holiday parties. Program Manager Cathy Henry said that “our centre has become a neighbourhood hub bringing together people of all ages and many cultural backgrounds in a warm, welcoming and safe environment. Throughout the month of December we host ten different Christmas Celebrations to ensure that every child, youth, adult and senior is given the opportunity to celebrate, socialize, share a special meal with their neighbours and receive a small gift.  These celebrations are hugely popular and our community members look forward to them with great anticipation especially since many of them do not have any other opportunity to have a traditional big family holiday dinner. Although a number of our community members are of different faiths and cultures, they love to join in these celebrations and they truly embrace the spirit of the season”.
 
Cabbagetown Youth Centre (CYC) – $4,500 for the summer camp programs: dance, basketball, junior playgroup, sports, and leadership. Executive Director Lucy Troisi educated us. “The Cabbagetown Youth Centre is celebrating its 45 years of service to the St. James Town, Regent Park and Cabbagetown communities.  The centre provides a safe, welcoming environment for at risk children, youth and their families. The centre provides a complete range of recreational, social and skill development programs. Programs are free of charge and accessible to all.” Nutritional snacks are provided free of charge. At the conclusion of the camps, CYC held a “Performing Arts Showcase” event at Daniel’s Spectrum. We were invited by Lucy to attend. It was a wonderful show with dancing, singing, and acting. There was so much positive energy and the caliber of the talent was outstanding. Especially touching was to learn that some of the instructors at the camp were previously attendees. We never know what will happen when seeds are planted. Lucy thanked our club for donating to their food program and she said to me that we should not underestimate the importance of the food to draw the kids into the programs. 
 
St. Simon’s Shelter – $4,550 for summer barbeques. While we had given St. Simon’s a small contribution in 2016 for their Christmas dinner, this community project resonated with all committee members. The project was “to host and provide six summer season barbecues for 105 social/economic marginalized and at risk members of our community (62 active shelter residents, 8 former residents, 35 low income community neighbors, St. James Town). For many the barbecues will be representative of their only adequate meal.  These community meals will mitigate social isolation, promote inclusion and provide a platform for shelter staff to engage and support folks in sourcing out continued dietary needs”.  
 
St. Andrew’s   – $2,875 for the Out of the Cold Program. St. Andrew’s serves a hot breakfast each Tuesday morning year-round to approximately 300 guests.
 
CSC Fellowship Dinner with PAL – In May, our committee hosted a fellowship dinner at the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL). 40 Rotarians and friends attended. It was a hugely successful event. The dinner, entertainment, and fellowship were enjoyed by all. We had the opportunity to mingle with some of the members of the lodge who were recipients of our donation last year to PAL’s Pantry. All committee members hope that our association with PAL will continue in some form in 2017-18.
 
Second Harvest – Our committee invited Second Harvest to present to us. We learned that they are the largest food rescue charity. Their motto is “No Waste No Hunger”. A staggering 23 million dollars of food is distributed in Toronto each year. Some agencies rely 100% on Second Harvest. Subsequent to the presentation, we were invited to tour their warehouse. It was an eye-opening experience. When we arrived, the warehouse floor was largely empty, awaiting the day’s donations. At the conclusion of our tour, less than one hour later, the warehouse floor was barely visible. The facility was fully stocked with fresh produce, meat, milk, and staples for delivery the next morning. Our committee has endorsed a request for a new pallet-mover that we will be sending to R&A.
 
Finally, I wish to offer my deepest thanks and gratitude to Marcy, Kerry, James, John, John Joseph, and Jonathan who made this year most educational, enjoyable, and productive in support of some of our most vulnerable and marginalized Torontonians. Additional thanks goes to Kerry for serving as our faithful and efficient secretary and to James as our Board Liaison who was present at every meeting to provide us with updates, guidance and support.
 
 
 
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