TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2012 /CNW/ - Toronto City Mission (TCM) is launching an afterschool program at St. Stephen's Presbyterian in Kingston-Galloway, a "priority" community that has recently made headlines for connections to shootings. ("Kingston-Galloway shootings: youths vying for dominance in re-emerging gang" The Star, September 21, 2012, by Betsy Powell and Jim Rankin)
Kingston-Galloway is a diverse neighbourhood in south Scarborough. The population of Kingston-Galloway is 23,042 people. The community has a high percentage of low income people (29% compared to the city average of 19.4%) and 32.5% of all families with children are lone-parent families - much greater than the Toronto average. (City of Toronto Priorities Neighbourhoods Profiles 2006). Kingston-Galloway has the highest concentration of subsidized housing in all of Ontario. In fact, 90% of the population lives in TCHC buildings and 10% of them own their houses. The top 3 languages spoken at home, other than English, are: Bengali, Tamil and Tagalog. (P.5, Kingston -Galloway / Orton Park COMMUNITY RESOURCE AND NEEDS ASSESSMENT By Rihab Abbas )
Pastor Alexander Wilson's church, St. Stephen's Presbyterian, sits right in the middle of this neighbourhood. He describes his neighbourhood as on the forefront of many of the new waves of immigration. Many of the community members are on assistance and drug abuse is prevalent. There are many families and a large number of the children wander around without supervision or social programs to fill their time. Just in the past year, he recalls three shootings that happened right around the church.
The gun violence hit close to home last December when his neighbour D'Mitre Barnaby, a recent immigrant to Toronto with no gang connections, was shot dead. "Police are calling the killing a case of mistaken identity—Barnaby just looked like the intended target." ("Innocent man mistaken for Galloway Boys target shot dead: Police" Metro, Sept 11, 2012, by Jessica Smith)
St. Stephen's Church Welcomes TCM with Open Arms
In spite of increased funding to the neighbourhood since it's designation as "priority", Pastor Alexander Wilson of St. Stephen's Presbyterian, has witnessed a gap in services for families and children in the immediate vicinity of the church. "A lot of the programs exist on the other side of the bridge (a kilometer away) but people don't cross the bridge." says Wilson. He is not aware of any official community organizations on the west side of the bridge.
Pastor Wilson has been serving in this community for 7 years and trying to provide for the many needs of the community. For example, they have a weekly food bank (in partnership with The Daily Bread and Second Harvest), an adult knitting group, and a monthly clothing bank to name a few. They also open up their building to community programs like, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and a Karate club. The church has also run homework, sports and choir programs in the past but could not continue because of lack of volunteer leadership.
The church has maxed its volunteer resources and so Pastor Wilson jumped at the opportunity to partner with Toronto City Mission by providing space for them to run an after school program for children ages 5 to12 Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program will provide much needed homework help and music enrichment and can serve up to 25 children. TCM hopes to raise the resources needed to offer this program four days a week in September 2013. In addition, TCM will offer March Break and Summer day camps to this community.
"I've been waiting long time for this. We've been in conversations for over a year." says Pastor Wilson.
Toronto City Mission brings a wealth of experience working in high priority neighbourhoods in Toronto and running after school programming. "We only go into new neighbourhoods if we are invited and it is critically important that we partner with local groups to ensure the community's sense of ownership", says TCM's executive Director, Andrew Schell. "St. Stephen's is the perfect partner with convenient facilities but more importantly, a passion and commitment to serve those in need", adds Mr. Schell.
"I'm looking forward to working within this community and watching it thrive through this partnership" says Gala (TCM Community Worker).
A ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the launch of this new partnership will be held on October 23, 2012 from 4-6pm at St. Stephen's Church (3817 Lawrence Ave).
About Toronto City Mission
Toronto City Mission has existed to demonstrate God's love and bring hope to families impacted by poverty since 1879. Our purpose is to build strong relationships with others to create positive, lasting change. We believe in the potential of every person we serve. Our community workers build long-term relationships with families and run preventative programs that equip children, youth and adults with skills to succeed. We are dedicated to building leaders in our city. We train and invest in our volunteers and interns and we mentor children, youth and adults to become such leaders in their own communities. We partner with local churches, volunteers, interns and students to inspire children, youth, and adults to have hope for the future and to share the gospel message. Our vision is that families, impacted by poverty, will lead transformed lives.
SOURCE: Toronto City Mission
For further information:
Toronto City Mission
Andrew Schell (Executive Director)