The Central United Church (CUC) Outreach Committee provides Tuesday evening community suppers using church volunteers to prepare and serve the meals. The program is funded through the combination of interest from an estate, congregational giving earmarked for the suppers and corporate sponsors e.g. Cargill Foods provided over $2,000 worth of meat a year.
The number of people coming for the community meals continues to increase and the earlier soup and sandwiches becomes a 2-3 course evening meal. More sponsors such as local bakeries donate food.
Central United Church (CUC) is approached by a partnership of Syme Woolner Neighbourhood and Family Centre and Toronto Public Health “The Works” asking for use of both the CUC participant base and location to open a satellite office for housing and harm reduction programs – creating a drop-in.
The daytime drop-in is open two days a week (average attendance 30 on Monday and Friday, 70 at Tuesday community meal). Partnerships from other agencies and Central United Church (CUC) volunteers provide services, meals, etc. The drop-in consists of kitchen, clothing room, lounge and staff office. Partners educate CUC volunteers re: social action issues. Facilities and maintenance are provided free of charge by CUC.
A full-time staff person is hired to coordinate health, harm reduction and housing services for the next three years, accomplished through a federal government grant through the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) program. A wheelchair ramp, accessible showers, washers and dryers, and kitchen equipment are added through the same funding source.
September: Lang Moffat is elected as WKNC’s first President by the inaugural Board of Directors, comprised of members from two local United churches and the Presbyterian Church.
The Toronto West Presbytery Corporation of the United Church of Canada acts as trustee on behalf of WKNC to receive financial contributions. An average quarter sees over 300 referral activities with 10% being new clients. Paid WKNC staff provide over 500 hours of service, while volunteers provide almost 600 hours.
The decision is made for WKNC’s incorporation to be executed in accordance with the United Church of Canada guidelines to protect the interests of Central United Church (CUC). Currently, the board requires 50 per cent plus one director to be members of the United Church of Canada or members of an approved faith group.
WKNC starts to receive donated food deliveries from Second Harvest; on-going to present. WKNC is chosen by the National Homelessness Initiative as the site for a successful federal press conference announcing the national SCPI program, which brings recognition to the centre. The Board also assists CUC with a special service featuring Alan Tonks, M.P., addressing housing, seniors and public health.
The drop-in opens four days a week and more is staff hired. Municipal funding pays for staff and supplies. West Park Healthcare Centre partners with WKNC to provide WKNC with 10 loaves of wrapped sandwiches made by long term care patients.
January 17: WKNC receives its Letter Patent and becomes an incorporated charity (Ontario Corporation Number 1555551).
WKNC’s first annual general meeting is held. The Board of Directors develops the by-laws, objects and other documents needed for incorporation, along with the development of the program and funding needs. The City of Toronto Declaration of Non-Discrimination is adopted, and work starts on the Board’s own Anti-racism, Access and Equity policy.
An outreach worker is hired, who, accompanied by peer workers, goes out at night twice a week seeking people in back alleys, crack houses and parks and supplies them with sandwiches, clean needles, condoms and emergency weather needs when heat and cold alerts are declared.
WKNC implements voluntary inspection of food preparation by Toronto Public Health, based on higher than required restaurant standards. WKNC is granted a “Pass” status. WKNC has adhered to semi-annual inspections since.
Staff and volunteers start enrolling in Food Handling courses through the City of Toronto to obtain course certificates. This promotes proper sanitation and safe food handling in WKNC’s food services programs. Approximately 3,000 volunteer hours are invested in the Tuesday night community meals.
Two drop-in workers and supplies are funded by the City of Toronto Homelessness Initiative. This funding is on-going to present. A Program Coordinator is hired for two years to develop sustainability plans and management for the staff.
Program participants are elected as board members for the first time.
York Community Services Centre (now known as Unison Health and Community Service) becomes the trustee for WKNC.
Robert Nobel becomes President of the Board. His mandate is to develop a good business foundation for WKNC through development of policies and procedures.
One day is set aside (Thursdays) for women to use the drop-in without men being allowed in. Statistics have shown that women represent one-third of the current drop-in service users and can benefit from a time to relax and share experiences together within a safe environment. This day has continued with regular programming on sexual health, nutrition, mental health, etc.
WKNC’s Strategic Review and Plan Report is released. Findings of the strategic plan suggest that WKNC should focus on what it does best – drop-in and harm reduction programs.
Directors develop a new set of Values, Mission and Vision statements to present to the membership at the Annual Meeting, based on the strategic review. WKNC’s logo of three blue people entering a doorway is developed to improve branding.
January: WKNC attains Charitable Status (registration # 87548 4917 RR0001) after thorough examination of their audited books and financial records. The first version of WKNC’s website is launched.
April: The Board of Directors makes the decision to continue the work of the former program coordinator position through an Operations Committee of three Directors. Board members are allocated for each day the drop-in is open to provide Board oversight and some level of daily supervision. This model of management continues for the next six years.
During 2007, approximately 8,865 meals were served, with 3,250 on Tuesdays. On over 2,920 visits, people received clothing, toiletries, first aid and personal items. The staff assisted with 840 referrals for housing, detoxification and addiction treatment, mental health services, medical services, income support, employment support, legal services, settlement services and other food programs.
WKNC is involved in voter registration for the provincial election, and offers the WKNC address for the homeless to vote. A nurse Practitioner from St. Elizabeth Healthcare starts weekly visits with program participants.
The value of Second Harvest’s food donations is estimated to be over $27,000 a year.
United Way and the City of Toronto designate Weston/Mount Dennis as one of 13 Priority Neighbourhoods with the purpose of reducing crime, increasing opportunities for young people and improving services to those in underserviced areas.
WKNC starts receiving food deliveries from the Daily Bread Food Bank for our food services program, including much needed dairy products. This is still on-going today. A kitchen/volunteer coordinator staff position is created, thanks to funding support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Major renovations include the installation of air conditioning, thanks to funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation. This gives homeless and under-housed people a place to keep cool during heat alerts.
A Blues Concert, held in the sanctuary of Central United Church, is WKNC’s first fundraiser. WKNC T-shirts are designed and sold. WKNC starts receiving new clothing from Windfall Clothing Service to supplement donations. The clothing bank held on Saturdays draws in local people who aren’t using the centre’s programs or services.
WKNC moves to opening six days a week (including statutory holidays), at the request of the City of Toronto. With the addition of a drop-in worker position, the staff complement increases to four.
A commercial style kitchen is designed and built via funding from the City of Toronto’s Homelessness Partnership Initiative. WKNC’s physical space is expanded courtesy of Central United Church, almost doubling the square footage used by WKNC.
WKNC joins the Weston Police Partnership Committee, chaired by our local city councillor. A vibrant mural is designed and painted to brighten the entranceway to the drop-in.
In response to the H1N1 outbreak, a comprehensive H1N1 workplan is created and implemented. WKNC’s work plan is used as a model for other drop-ins.
Gardening activities are commenced on the abutting church property. This supplies fresh vegetables to the drop-in and encourages active volunteer involvement. WKNC marches in Weston’s Santa Claus Parade.
On the first City of Toronto annual clean-up day, WKNC fields the largest team to come out to improve the neighbourhood.
A successful one-year kitchen peer worker pilot program commences. Painting and renovations to the dining hall are made. WKNC’s first community BBQ/festival is attended by other agencies, police and politicians.
WKNC initiates meetings with partners in harm reduction (Unison, The Works, and Syme-Woolner) to meet the needs of our population. Syme-Woolner Neighbourhood and Family Centre agrees to provide harm reduction programs, including outreach, using WKNC as a satellite office. This partnership continues today.
The city no longer requires an external trustee to handle/administer WKNC finances.
WKNC’s first annual food survey is conducted, asking participants about meals at the drop-in, their medical conditions, and food likes and dislikes.
March: WKNC becomes an accredited ministry of the United Church of Canada
July: WKNC stages their second successful BBQ/fundraising community event, delivered by staff and assisted by volunteers. Local performers take to the stage. The event is attended by all levels of government and local agencies.
August: WKNC’s staff complement is increased by two staff through the Investing in Neighbourhoods program.
October: Timothy Barlow is elected President of the Board. His goal is to build a stronger team environment with more effective communication between board and staff, while continuing to focus on improving a safer, more harmonious environment for our participants.
November: WKNC receives the City of Toronto Mayor’s Award for Community Safety at the award ceremonies held at City Hall.
April: A seniors outreach support (SOS) pilot project is implemented through funding from Service Canada, whereby peer-led outreach teams aim to identify and respond to services required by isolated seniors who are most ‘at risk’ in the local neighbourhood. This leads to new partnerships being developed with local seniors organizations.
Measuring Success is implemented by the City with involvement by the Toronto Drop-in Network. WKNC staff and board members participated in the development stage. This new way of measuring and reporting on city-funded drop-ins emphasizes not only numbers but program successes.
The city-led Revitalization Plan for Weston is a welcome initiative, which will lead to significant changes to the neighbourhood.
WKNC currently has over 20 partnerships with other agencies or organizations.
June: Kitchen upgrades include installation of stainless steel kitchen counters.
June: Members of Mount Dennis United Church and WKNC create a proposal for use of assets from sale of Mount Dennis United Church.
September: The United Church of Canada approves funding for WKNC to create Mount Dennis Neighbourhood Centre as a satellite of WKNC – a bequest from the sale of Mount Dennis United Church.
April to June: The number of participants using the drop-in is higher than at the peak of the economic recession, reflecting the real needs and the level of hardship which exist in the Weston-Mount Dennis community.
May: Opening ceremonies/launch of WKNC’s Resource Centre; workshops are held for those seeking employment. Partnerships continue with COSTI and Youth Employment Services
June: Ertha Downey starts as WKNC’s first Executive Director, thanks to funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation. WKNC participates in both the Best of Weston Street Festival and Canada Day celebrations. Gardening projects expand upon attaining two additional plots in Emmett Community Garden.
September: WKNC’s redesigned and updated website is launched.
November: Erika Pulfer joins us as MDNC’s first staff person, in the Program Planning Co-ordinator position.
March: Preliminary planning with Architect re: MDNC renovations.
June: Raised garden beds are built and installed at MDNC, engaging community members to be involved from planting, through weeding, and harvesting.
June 20: The Fresh Food Market launched at MDNC at 1269 Weston Road every Friday through the summer months, offering fresh produce at reasonable prices
July 2: MDNC pilot Aboriginal Families kitchen launched; graciously hosted at Urban Arts until MDNC’s kitchen is built.
August: Building permits approved for MDNC renovations at 1269 Weston Road.
October: A cold frame is built and installed at WKNC to extend the growing season of vegetables for the drop-in centre.
October 27: Angela McCarty starts as WKNC’s first Housing Support worker, increasing WKNC’s program and service offerings.
Both WKNC sites continue to serve the community through every-day meal and food services, as well as a multitude of services built upon our long history on community involvement.
WKNC responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing take-away meals and temporarily shutting down on-site, in-person programming.
Ventilation upgrades to our main dining room (thanks to covid funding from the City of Toronto) along with paint, lighting and layout changes allow us to begin re-opening to in-person dining. Expansion of our outdoor space including new picnic tables, umbrellas and tents allow us to also hold outdoor events during the good weather. We also built some garden plots and started kitchen and memorial gardens.
We fully opened programming and services adding supports for legal, tax, street nurses, mental health on top of our harm reduction, showers, laundry and advocacy support. Unfortunately we lost funding to fully support housing placement, but do our best to refer our drop-in client to available supports. We began offering garden plots to community members. We also set aside an area to store and share clothing on a regular basis.