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What resilience looks like: My first 90 days at Dixon Hall

I started my new role as the CEO of Dixon Hall on May 22nd and this week marks just over 90 working days for me. I’ve lived in this downtown east community for several years now and I had no idea what  starting a new job in my community would look like. I had a concept of what working for an agency with such a rich history in a community with great need might be like, and did my best to manage expectations and to enjoy whatever new experiences came my way.  But I had no idea that I would (so early on) have experienced moments with community members and staff that will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

What I’ve witnessed is resilience.  The stories that have been shared with me from the diverse community members we support, our ability to adapt the programs we are implementing

Addressing digital literacy gaps through short-term training interventions

Director of Employment Services, Haris Blentic shares how his team is adapting programs to the changing job market.

Amplifying Impact: Overnight Camp’s Effects on Music School Students

Summer is an exciting time of year for young people, and the students of Dixon Hall Music School are no exception.

Every summer, our Music School offers camps for students, and opportunities to attend cultural and sporting events in Toronto. Our students have seen the Toronto Blue Jays in action, attended the Shaw Festival, and gone to the opera. One of the highlights of the Music School’s summer calendar is the chance to attend a one-week overnight camp at Hart House Farm in Caledon.

The summer camp runs for two weeks in July. The first week is for older students, ages 11 through 16, and the second week is for younger students, from 8 to 11.

Highlights of this year’s Senior Camp

Adolescence is a challenging transitional time, so counselors focus on helping campers express themselves in new and creative ways. When they aren’t practicing their instruments and enjoying the picturesque setting at Hart

Meet Alex Zsager: Advocate, Activist, Community Researcher

Alex Zsager knows firsthand how easy it is to become homeless. Alex had a successful career, working for high profile organizations like the Vancouver Canucks, until he unexpectedly lost his job during an economic downturn, and couldn’t find work. When his savings ran out, Alex lost his apartment. He found a bed at Schoolhouse, one of Dixon Hall’s two shelters.

Being homeless took a toll on Alex, and his mental health suffered. Soon after arriving at Schoolhouse, he found himself dealing with increased depression and anxiety. He struggled with his lack of success in finding work during his first year in the shelter system. Alex decided to try something new, in hopes it would motivate him further. Over the next 4 years, Alex got involved in the community. He started volunteering with the Good Neighbours Club (now Haven Toronto). Eventually, his volunteering led to a job as a personal support worker.

How Data Will Shape Our Strategies: The Innovative Solutions to Homelessness Project

We’ve embarked on a new research project to try and find better solutions to end homelessness.

Supporting Caregivers of People Living with Dementia

 

As the population of Ontario ages, the dementia rate continues to rise sharply. A dementia diagnosis can be very challenging for families to deal with, and often leads to more questions than answers. Although there are plenty of resources available that provide detailed, up-to-date information about dementia and the types of behaviours that can be expected from someone living with dementia, what many caregivers and family members find most helpful is an opportunity to connect with others who are going through a similar experience. That’s why Dixon Hall decided to launch a Caregiver Support Group in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Toronto for anyone who is affected by dementia – whether through a family member or friend.

Since March of this year, the group has been meeting once a month, to offer caregivers a safe space to discuss their experiences and challenges. Discussions are guided by a social worker, and

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

Read our second annual Out of the Cold report, analyzing 2017-2018 season stats, and more.

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.

Working with Young Women and Mothers in Regent Park

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re recognizing several programs in our Children & Youth department that work with young people and their parents in Regent Park to #pushforprogress, and ensure that young girls and women have the tools they need to excel.

Dixon Hall hosts two parenting groups which meet twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Though the Tuesday night group is not exclusively for women, the participants are all young mothers. Every Tuesday, these women gather and form a peer support group. They learn from one another and relate to one another. Our Support Worker, Ronnie, is available as a resource at each meeting. Because many of the participants are newcomers to the community and to Canada, this group deals with many settlement issues – learning how to adjust to Canadian culture and parenting styles, how to navigate different systems like schools and health care, and how to

A Dixon Hall Love Story

Meet Dixon Hall’s sweethearts, Pablo and Monica, who are passionate about living their shared values and improving their community.

Governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto invest in Dixon Hall Youth Centre

Toronto, Ontario, November 8, 2017—Investing in recreational infrastructure helps communities come together and stay active. The governments of Canada, Ontario and Toronto recognize that strategic investments in recreational infrastructure—including funding for the Dixon Hall Youth Centre—play a key role in supporting dynamic communities while creating good jobs that help grow the middle class.

The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean, his Worship John Tory, Mayor of the City of Toronto, and Neil Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, today announced joint federal and provincial funding of $500,000 for the Dixon Hall Youth Centre, an important part of the Regent Park revitalization in Toronto.

The governments of Canada and Ontario are each contributing up to $250,000

Showing Love in Regent Park: Using Food to Maximize Social Return

The Show Love Café is comfortably nestled on the ground level of Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park’s cultural hub. Regulars are familiar with Chef Denzil’s Caribbean specialties like his jerk chicken and corn soup, and his friendly customer service. The Root & Burger sign from the former neighbourhood restaurant hangs proudly, a reminder to residents of the old Regent Park, from before the revitalization started.  As a social enterprise, proceeds from the Show Love Café are funneled back into the Regent Park community through Dixon Hall’s  work, while the café itself also provides a social benefit in the form of  employment and training opportunities for young people and job seekers.

This summer, Dixon Hall welcomed Rob Gaudette to the newly created role of Manager of Social Enterprise. Rob has worked with Dixon Hall for several years now, starting as a Job Developer, and working as the Manager of Employment Services, before taking

Harm Reduction: Working with Marginalized Populations to Minimize Risk and Encourage Healthy Change

Lessons in harm reduction principles from our Harm Reduction Worker, Chris Snodgrass.

Jump Start Your Career in Trades or Customer Service – Join the Incubator!

Are you between 18-29 and an Ontario Works recipient or dependent?

Camp is in Session!

Welcoming Dixon Hall’s counselors and campers for Summer 2017 and reflecting on some of the skills they’ll learn over the summer as part of their jobs.

Living Your Best Life – Seniors Month and Ending Isolation

June is Seniors Month in Ontario and we’ve been celebrating all month with a mix of activities and special events dedicated to the vibrant seniors in our community. This year’s theme for Seniors Month is “Live Your Best Life”, something we encourage all our program participants to do every day. But what does that look like? How does a senior live his or her best life? And how do the programs we offer help seniors to live their best lives?

Dixon Hall offers 17 programs for seniors, and there’s a great deal of difference among our various programs in terms of who we support and the activities and services we offer. Despite this diversity, all of our programs have a common goal: to prevent seniors from becoming socially isolated. Many of the seniors we work with live alone. Even if they have a caregiver, that caregiver generally spends a fixed amount

Children and Youth Manager Kenneth Slater wins Bhayana Family Foundation Award

Dixon Hall Manager of Children and Youth Kenneth Slater wins a Bhayana Family Foundation award.

Catching up with Dixon Hall Music School Alumni Talena

Talena Jackson attended Dixon Hall Music School for piano lessons throughout her childhood in the 1990s. Originally enrolled by her mother as an outlet for Talena’s excess energy, she now reflects fondly on her time with Dixon Hall Music School and attributes many of her current successes to her time with us. We caught up with Talena recently to hear more about her favourite memories from Dixon Hall and how music education helped shape her.

Learning to play piano was very enjoyable for Talena, but beyond that, she was fascinated by learning the function of the metronome and the language behind music – crescendo, diminuendo, treble and bass clef, etc. Talena says that music education opened up another world for her, recalling the memory of attending the symphony for the first time, and gaining a deep understanding of how music articulates emotions that are unspeakable.

Attending our Music School Summer Camp was

Beyond Fun in the Sun: Dixon Hall’s Summer Camp and Youth Mental Health

Director of Children & Youth programs Sandra Costain explains the positive impact of summer camp on youth mental health.

A Case of Serendipity: Q&A with the irreplaceable volunteer Vivien Dzau

Vivien Dzau has been a long-time volunteer with Dixon Hall. Since getting involved with the agency in 2008, Vivien’s energy and enthusiasm have been infectious and inspirational to everyone fortunate enough to cross paths with her. She’s served a variety of roles throughout her time working with Dixon Hall, including the position of Board Chair. Most recently, she’s donated her time as the co vice-chair of our capital campaign for the new Youth Centre in Regent Park. Her tireless campaigning and advocacy for the new youth centre has yielded incredible results – as we continue with our design plans and get ready to break ground this year, we know without doubt this wouldn’t be possible without Vivien’s help in spreading our vision with strength, clarity, and passion. She was recently honoured by the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards for her 10 years of service.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we turned the spotlight

First Annual Out of the Cold Report is Here

Dixon Hall is pleased to present the first annual Out of the Cold program report – analyzing statistics around program usage and demographics.

Out of the Cold Toronto – 30 Years Later – A Growing Crisis 

Out of the Cold – Program Milestones and Evolution

Dixon Hall Housing Services Director David Reycraft reflects on milestones of the Out of the Cold Program and the evolution of the program over the last 30 years.

Youth Job Link

Dixon Hall Employment Services can help you plan your career with our Youth Job Link, Contact us today to find out more.

Celebrating Dixon Hall’s Strong Women Leaders

Today is International Women’s day, a global event which celebrates and recognizes women worldwide for their achievements, while simultaneously measuring progress and setting milestone goals in the quest for gender equality.

Our staff team at Dixon Hall consists of numerous dynamic and hardworking women, who bring incredible talents, skills to the organization, and show amazing dedication and compassion for the clients we serve. Our leadership team is over 50% women, all doing incredible work in the public sector and impacting the lives of clients while strengthening the surrounding community. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we wanted to recognize these women, and talk about some of the progress they’ve seen in the sector as well as barriers we have yet to overcome.

Christine Chow has worked with seniors for over 25 years. She began her career with Mid-Toronto Community Services, working with clients with Alzheimer’s on the frontline. Chris has seen the

Employment Services March Workshop Calendar Now Available

Schedule of events for Employment Services for the month of March. Events are free and early sign-up is encouraged as some events have limited capacity.

Dixon Hall Announced as United Way Anchor Agency

Dixon Hall is proud to be named a United Way Toronto and York Region Anchor Agency as of February 23d, 2017.

“United Way TYR has been an invaluable partner since we began working with them in 1958. As an Anchor Agency, this collaboration gives us the opportunity to continue to invest in the Regent Park community and build a stronger neighbourhood through our mix of services — from our Youth Services, Senior Services, Employment Services, Housing Services and many more. We’ll be able to increase the amount of clients we serve and extend our reach,”  said Neil Hetherington, Dixon Hall CEO. “This is a smart investment that responds to a growing need within our communities. We are thrilled to embark on the next phase of our relationship with United Way TYR and look forward to strategically investing funds to bring forth more positive outcomes and change.”

United Way is the largest non-governmental

How Do You #ShowLove?

The last couple of weeks have been rough: a number of shootings in our city, a horrifying attack on a mosque in Quebec, and more evidence of the increasing polarization in politics. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by all that’s going on; looking at the news in our city, and worldwide, has been challenging. Even more so, for those of us who are active on social media where our news feeds can quickly fill up with negative stories.

It’s easy to feel helpless, anxious, and overwhelmed. How do we stay informed and engaged without succumbing to a feeling of hopelessness? It’s challenging, but not impossible.

Last night, I attended United Way Toronto’s Celebration Gala, where they announced a record-breaking fundraising total of $102,000,000. Torontonians gave that huge sum of money to support those in need in our city. That kind of generosity is incredible! Mayor John Tory was in attendance and

Remembering Ali Rizeig

Our Director of Children and Youth Programs, Sandra Costain spoke with Metro Morning to remember Ali Rizeig, a young man killed in the Regent Park Community. Honour Ali’s memory and listen to Sandra’s words here.

For a written version of Sandra’s words, please click here.

RIP Ali.

Employment Services February Workshop Calendar Now Available

Check the Employment Services  Workshop schedule for the month of February here. We hope to see you there!

Watch Daniel Sheikh’s New Video

Watch our Music School student Daniel Sheikh’s newest video here

Literacy and Basic Skills Program is Moving

The LBS program will be moving to Regent Park Community Centre (402 Shuter St) as of February 1st, 2017.

You can access the Regent Park Community Centre via the TTC — by taking the 501 Queen Streetcar to the Queen & Sackville stop and walking to Shuter St.

For detailed trip planning information, please use the TTC Trip Planner.

 

A Year in Review: Reflecting with Gratitude

CEO Neil Hetherington reflects on 2016 and practices gratitude, highlighting key moments ahead of the journey into 2017.

January Free Workshop Calendar

Regent Park Employment Services Centre
Free Events Calendar
January 2017

Recent music video

Watch Heart Attack Monday’s most recent music video, ‘I Need You Now’ Click Here

We are currently accepting students for Drums, Voice, Violin and Choir (group lesson)!

Music School Registration Form

November Free Workshop Calendar

Regent Park Employment Services Centre
Free Events Calendar
November 2016

Because of Aleshia

At Dixon Hall, we have no shortage of women who make a difference in the lives of some of our city’s most vulnerable residents every day. One of the many extraordinary women who work at Dixon Hall is Aleshia Nigh-Neverson,

Houzayfa’s Basketball Diary

14-year-old Houzayfa was born and raised in Regent Park. Two years ago, when he was in Grade 6, Houzayfa became the youngest player to ever participate in our basketball league.

Hayley’s Musical Journey

Each year, our Music School must say goodbye to some of our students as they head off to their post secondary studies.

Sophie’s Triumphant Return

Recently, a former client from our Out of the Cold program dropped by for a visit.Staff recall that Sophie (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) was possibly the most challenging but brilliant client they’ve ever known.

Rachel’s Journey from Heartbreak to Hope

Rachel is a member of our Children & Youth programs. She’s a vibrant young lady who hasn’t had an easy life.

What will Lili cook next?

Lili has been a volunteer in the Mandarin program at the Elderly Persons Centre for more than 5 years. She first heard about the Mandarin program

It might have been a brutally cold evening outside,

But the warmth and compassion of our volunteers was palpable once the doors of St. Patrick’s Church were opened

For Mary, an 87 year-old senior living alone in a St. Lawrence area apartment,

Last year was the first holiday season she spent on her own since her husband passed away.

Travis is a teenager who was uprooted last year by the redevelopment of Regent Park.

He comes from a single-parent home where his mother struggles to raise 3 young children.

Summer at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services

Summer is always an exciting time at DHNS – especially for our youth who get to take part in one of our Summer Camps.The opportunity to try new things abounds for our

Neil Op-Ed

On Friday, September 30, affordable housing community leaders attended the Toronto Housing Summit. At the gathering, there were discussions with the mayors of some

National Housing Strategy Position Paper

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services I wish to express our gratitude
to you and the Government of Canada for the opportunity to be part

Bill Finds a Home

Back in 1995, Bill Cook found himself living in Dixon Hall’s Heyworth House shelter with no one to turn to. He had hit rock bottom and was in need of support from our shelter staff.

O’Neil’s Living Proof

Growing up in Regent Park, O’Neil was exposed to the dangers the community was known for. On a path towards crime and considered a youth at-risk, he was feared by many – but not by those at Dixon Hall.