Recognizing our incredible volunteers
It's National Volunteer Week, and we're celebrating all that volunteers contribute to our communities. Without volunteers, many community programs would not be able to continue operating. Volunteers are crucial, to Dixon Hall and to many social service agencies across Toronto. The generosity and compassion of our volunteers impacts thousands of community members every year. Meals on Wheels delivered over 70,000 meals last year thanks to the support of volunteers. In 2017, 1,918 volunteers donated over 29,000 hours of their time to Dixon Hall's programs to support people in need in the downtown east.
All Star Basketball Night at Dixon Hall 🏀
Last week, Dixon Hall's MVP Basketball League held an All Star night supported by league sponsor, Freedom Mobile. It was a night of stellar athleticism, community cheer, and included a very special visitor.
March Break and Meals
March Break is a special time of year at Dixon Hall. The break from school means that we have the chance to work with youth in a more intensive way - meaning there's more time for learning and fun!
Dixon Hall Music School hosted both Girls Rock Camp and our annual March Break Camp at Hart House Farm.
Here are some of the highlights from the week.
Let's move people out of the shelter system. For good.
Adding more beds to the shelter system is an important first step. But the next step, helping people find and maintain permanent housing, is perhaps even more challenging. Over the past few weeks, you've likely heard or participated in discussions about the crisis in the shelter system. Additional beds are desperately needed. But adding more shelter beds is only part of the solution. The ultimate goal is to move people out of shelters and support them once they are housed to ensure they don't end up back in a shelter, or on the street. The challenges don't go away the day a homeless man or woman moves out of the shelter; they need support systems in place.
Here's why music education matters.
Meet Sofia. Sofia has been a student at Dixon Hall Music School for the last 5 years. She plays cello and piano. Sofia also attends summer camp through Dixon Hall Music School, and calls camp "the best part of summer". Summer camp is not only full of fun activities and new experiences, it’s a great place to make new friends. Sofia still keeps in touch with many of the friends she made at camp, even though they attend different high schools.
Meet Maseeda Majeed: Elspeth Heyworth Award Recipient
Maseeda Majeed immigrated to Toronto from Sri Lanka with her family when she was 8 years old.
The country was torn apart by civil war, and her parents made the difficult decision to move their family to the other side of the world, in search of a better life. Adjusting to the climate, food and culture in Canada was a challenge for Maseeda initially, and she longed for her friends and family back home. Throughout the transition period, Maseeda's parents emphasized the importance of education, and reminded her of all the opportunities available in Canada.
Harm reduction work at Dixon Hall is a life-saving practice.
Chris Snodgrass, our harm reduction worker at Heyworth House shelter recently saw firsthand the importance of his work. He arrived at work at 11:30am and settled in to his office, preparing for the day.
As someone who has worked in the shelter system for the last 10 years, he says nothing surprises him anymore. His training as a harm reduction worker means that he works with clients who use drugs. Chris encourages safer practices and ways in which to reduce personal harm – through a variety of techniques like choosing less harmful substances, reducing dosage, safe use plans, shelter discharges and many more.
Ruth Finds a Way to See the Light
When Ruth moved to Toronto from Fuzhou City, China she felt overwhelmed and hopeless.
A young mother to an infant and a toddler, Ruth lived with her in-laws because she and her husband could not afford their own home. Ruth's husband worked long hours to provide for the family and had little time to spend with them after work. Ruth felt unsupported and stuck, as though she was "living in the dark, with no way of seeing light."
Announcing our New Mission, Vision, Values
Dixon Hall has been in service to our community for nearly 90 years. This settlement house has grown from a soup kitchen to a multi-service agency, serving thousands at every life stage. As a result we see first hand the gaps that still need to be filled. We see Torontonians struggling to find affordable housing, to feed their families, to find employment. Youth who are living in poverty, and lacking mentors and role models. Dixon Hall fills the gaps to find long-lasting solutions to these issues, and we continue to be motivated by the successes we see. We're working to enhance our programming and to better serve the community, with many exciting developments and new projects on the horizon.
As Toronto and Dixon Hall move forward, we thought it was time to revisit our mission, vision, and values to ensure they're progressing too. We realized there was a simpler way to express our vision. After consultations with over 250 staff, volunteers, community members and other stakeholders we have landed on this simple, impactful Vision Statement for Dixon Hall.
Together, Let’s Bridge the Gap to Access for Youth and Seniors 🌞
Kenneth believed in a small group of severely at-risk youth in our community. He proposed a radical departure from our standard programming for youth and suggested that the summer of 2016 would be an intervention of opportunity for these youth. Seven youth were provided with counselling, volunteer opportunities, camping experiences, and employment internships. The program included an international trip overseas to volunteer, giving the youth the chance to expand their world view and have completely new experiences. And it worked. It was a safe summer, and deeply rewarding for the youth who participated, with lasting impact.
Kenneth's incredible and innovative work will be recognized this week, with a Bhayana Foundation Award from the United Way. He saw a need, developed a fresh, thoughtful and impactful intervention and saw it through to completion with the excellence that can be expected from Dixon Hall.
Three Ways You Can Make a Difference
We're counting down to the adventures of summer at Dixon Hall and detailing how you can get involved and support us across the upcoming months.
Help Us Provide Food in the Downtown East 🍛
Despite the many differences across Dixon Hall's programming, food is a common element that links so much of the work we do. Our March Break campers often made a lunchtime meal together, cooperating and collaborating in the kitchen while discussing topics like healthy relationships; delicious meals kept the young ladies of Girls Rock Camp Toronto nourished enough to keep on rocking during long days; and our Alzheimer's Day program clients and staff enjoyed another meatless Monday, where the focus is on enjoying plant-based meals together. Our Community Meals continued on Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings, with volunteers preparing healthy meals for our diners to combat food insecurity.
The Power of Community - Building Better Neighbourhoods 🌆
In February we officially assumed 188 and 190 Carlton Street, in addition to 192. By expanding our locations, we're creating a campus of care in the downtown east area. We have begun an ambitious plan to renovate our Emergency Shelter – Heyworth House at Danforth and Main. We have also begun to review options to relocate the George Street Shelter. We're working hard to expand our services so we can provide resources to vulnerable populations. We want all of the community to have the skills, tools, and support available to live their best lives possible. Our larger presence in the city is a step in making this happen.
Empowering Communities to Inspire Change
From the energetic youth to the diligent job seekers, to the vibrant seniors, to the selfless volunteers, our goal is empowerment. Because empowered communities inspire change. And change is a powerful force that gives all of us hope for a brighter future.
Read on for exciting details about the return of our signature event – Dixonlicious, a culinary celebration in support of our vital food programs. Tickets are available now and we hope to see you there!
Let's Talk About Housing
A few weeks ago, Dixon Hall took part in Mayor John Tory’s Toronto Housing Summit. Arguably the most optimistic gathering about housing issues in years, we left with the conclusion that good, decent housing needs to be a universal Canadian value.
Dixon Hall Gets Hit with Olympic Fever
The month of August was spent with our exuberant young campers and vibrant seniors faithfully cheering on Canada and celebrating the accomplishments of our Canadian athletes as they competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Summer in the Six is Off to a Great Start
Everyone at Dixon Hall has been making the most of summer by taking part in Friday afternoon barbeques, summer camps, special activities for our seniors, and community events.
Celebrating Seniors, Summer and Success
June is Seniors Month in Ontario, so we celebrated the occasion with lots of great activities. We also celebrated successes at our Music School and Employment Services programs.
From Out of the Rubble Comes the Opportunity to Rebuild
We’re building a new youth centre in Regent Park!
In 2018, Dixon Hall’s Children & Youth and Music School programs will move into a brand new, 4-storey, 8,000 square foot facility at the corner of Wyatt Ave. and Nicolas Ave. in the heart of Regent Park.
A Fond Farewell to Kaarina
It’s with a sad heart that we say farewell to KaarinaLuoma, our beloved Associate Executive Director at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services. We wish her the best in her journey forward.
A Fond Farewell to Kate
After 11 years of dedicated service at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, we must sadly bid farewell to our fearless leader, Executive Director Kate Stark.