Out Of The Cold 2017-2018: How Seasonal Programs Can Inform Permanent Solutions To Homelessness



Out Of The Cold 2017-2018: How Seasonal Programs Can Inform Permanent Solutions To Homelessness

Winter in Toronto across the 2017-2018 was challenging for anyone to endure. There were periods of lasting, extreme cold which continued until the spring months. Despite the City of Toronto’s efforts to introduce temporary measures to service people experiencing homelessness, there was still a crisis situation once the weather turned bitterly cold.

Throughout the constant changes to the city’s 24-hour respite sites, faith-based organizations across the GTA continued to open their doors to people experiencing homelessness, offering an experience revered for its compassion and warmth. As the overseeing agency of the Out of the Cold program, we’re pleased to release our second annual Out of the Cold report. In this report, we analyze data from the past season and share  news and successes from a pilot project in the Beaches area of Toronto. We also share an overview of a new project currently in progress, designed to better our understanding of



Getting Musical in our Alzheimer Day Program

June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario – an opportunity to celebrate seniors in our communities. This year’s theme “Now’s the Time to Try Something New” inspired our staff to introduce new programs for seniors in our day programs.

Thanks to funding from the Ontario Dementia Strategy, our Seniors’ Department recently introduced new music programs as part of our Alzheimer Day Program.  Every two weeks,  members enjoy an afternoon of music lessons using one of three new instruments: African drums, ukuleles, or hand chimes.


Last week, seniors had their first ukulele lesson – an instrument many were unfamiliar with. Initially, there was some hesitation and apprehension as seniors held the ukuleles for the first time; some members handled the ukulele very gently. But once everyone received their ukuleles, nervousness evaporated and was replaced by a sense of comfort, as members recognized they were all in it together.

The ukulele was chosen for a number



Announcing our new CEO, Mercedes Watson

We’re excited to share some big news with all of our supporters and community members today – the selection of our new Chief Executive Officer, Mercedes Watson. Mercedes was unanimously chosen by our Board of Directors based on her extensive leadership background and her experience in advocacy, as well as her commitment to supporting vulnerable populations.

For the past two decades, Mercedes has led large-scale organizational change initiatives, while creating innovative systems that have helped collect and generate millions of dollars for those whose rights she has represented. We’re thrilled to have Mercedes join us at such a pivotal time for our organization, as we embark on some of our most ambitious projects to date.

Mercedes has been a senior partner with the Thought Dept. for the last 10 years and has also successfully managed a mediation practice. She serves as a rostered mediator for the Ontario Public Service and has been



Building Friendship through Volunteering: Fourth Saturday

Lo and Mat started Fourth Saturday in January 2018, both inspired by individual community experiences. Lo lived abroad in Australia for three years, using Meetup Groups frequently to make new friends and exper ience different parts of Sydney. When she returned home to Toronto, she found Meetup Groups were lacking, and that meeting new friends with similar interests was challenging.

Enter Mat. Mat had recently volunteered with a non-profit that helped organize the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade. The entire experience was memorable for him, especially post-celebration, when volunteers and festival performers enjoyed a potluck meal.

Together, Lo and Mat came up with the idea of a group that would gather people in the downtown east end, to meet like-minded people and do good in the community by volunteering with a local organization. After volunteering, the group would socialize and get to know one another better, by supporting a local restaurant or café.



Meet the bands from Girls Rock Camp 2018

Girls Rock Camp returned at Dixon Hall for it’s third consecutive year. Here are the bands our campers created.