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Community Services Committee (CSC) – Monthly Blog – Reflections on August Events

Fort York Food Bank Reflections

By Cassandra Stefura

On August 14th, the Community Service Committee held its second meeting. It was a full house, with 9 members in attendance. During this meeting I was able to meet many new members and hear about their vision for the committee, which is always very inspiring. As a group, we focussed our time on the logistics behind the upcoming Clothing Drive, as well as the Cycling Fundraiser Event, and an event involving a hike and a park clean up! Additionally, we discussed initiatives that CSC members are interested in pursuing, and realistic ways to participate in such initiatives.

Two weeks after our meeting, several members were able to volunteer with the Fort York Food Bank. Generally, the day is split into two shifts: a cooking shift, and a serving shift. The first shift begins at 8:30am under the direction of Errol, a Rotarian whom is kind enough to organize the meal we serve. With significant kitchen experience, he is always there to teach volunteers useful kitchen skills, in addition to delegating the volunteers. It sure was a learning experience for me, as I can safely say that I have never cooked – or seen! -- so much food at once before. At 11:30am, the second shift begins. Serving time! Errol’s time is up, and volunteers are tasked with setting up serving stations and serving food. Volunteers can serve over 100 people with the meal we prepare. After serving, CSC members clean up and are finished for 2pm.

Personally, I find volunteering at the Fort York Food Bank extremely rewarding. While it is essential to support larger charities and their initiatives, it is a pleasure to be able to directly see my volunteer efforts contribute to the community. Poverty in Toronto is becoming more and more of a prominent issue over time, and I am glad that I can assist those in need in some way. A primary reason that I joined the Rotaract Club of Toronto was to be able to volunteer my time to my community, and I am extremely grateful to the Community Service Committee for the opportunity to do so.

Reflection on the Rotaract Club of Toronto Clothing Drive

By Jessica Besaw and Cassandra Stefura

The recent Rotaract Club of Toronto clothing drive held on August 27, 2018 was a huge success as our members donated fifteen overflowing bag containing gently-used clothing, brand new undergarments, and even sanitary pads. These donations were divided among two worthwhile charities: the St. Michael's Hospital Transition Center and the FCJ Refugee Centre.

The St. Michaels Hospital Transition Center is near and dear to our Rotaract hearts because it was opened in December 1999 with the help of the Rotary Club of Toronto. Our parent club donated $500,000 to fund this unique facility which provides homeless and under-housed people a temporary place to rest, shower, enjoy a warm meal, do laundry, and obtain clothing hand-outs. This facility is located in the emergency department of St. Michael’s hospital. This is a convenient location since often when the homeless are admitted into emergency, their clothing are ruined in an accident or cut off by doctors in order to assess injuries. In this way, the transition center can provide replacement clothing and other services immediately to those with the greatest need.

In addition to the St. Michael’s Hospital Transition Centre, the Rotaract Club of Toronto chose to donate to the FCJ Centre. The facility assists refugees and others at risk due to their immigration status, and it does so in a variety of ways. Often, when refugees enter Canada, they do not have enough clothing, or clothing appropriate for Canada’s extreme climate. The FCJ Centre solves this problem by accepting clothing donations and providing the donations to those in need. Also, numerous houses are available as shelter at the centre, as well as an education programme that includes training, seminars, workshops, and publications. These popular programmes are a great opportunity for refugees to learn a skill and aid them to successfully enter the job market. Furthermore, the FCJ Centre addresses systematic issues refugees face, including a lack of resources, marginalization, and discrimination. The centre accomplishes this through their refugee protection services and refugee settlement services. Moreover, the FCJ centre helps with paperwork, translation and interpretation, referral to immigration lawyers, orientation to local social services, skills development, and counselling.

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