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Donations being loaded into a wagon in 1896

125 Years of Changing Lives

In 1896, John ‘Hallelujah’ Coolidge Davis founded Yonge Street Mission to support and serve Torontonians experiencing poverty, by offering food and giving out Bibles from the back of a horse-pulled wagon which travelled up and down Yonge Street.

125 years later YSM is still here, responding to the needs of the Toronto community and offering vital food, counselling, housing and employment supports, as well as care for struggling neighbours. From our humble beginnings to the present day, YSM has existed to bring justice to the marginalized and to provide dignity and support to those in greatest need. We’ve served through global pandemics, world wars, economic depression, financial downturns and we will continue to do so as long as people in this city need us.

Throughout our history, YSM has been blessed by people like you – donors, partners, volunteers and supporters – who believe change is possible, and that together we can foster meaningful transformation in an individual life, a family, a neighbourhood and throughout our city.

YSM has seen the face of poverty change in Toronto, and we’ve adapted in response. We believe all people have immense value and promise, yet we see the devastating impacts of multi-generational poverty in Toronto every day. Thousands of our neighbours are unstably housed and experience food insecurity. Notable income disparity and systemic barriers, which bring people through our doors each year, persist. We ask, why is this the case? What more is needed to alter the future for people experiencing poverty today?

We believe the opposite of poverty is community.

Together, we are the solution! And so, for our 125th anniversary, instead of rolling out a cake or dropping balloons, we’re inviting the whole city to join us in our goal to end the multi-generational cycle of poverty which affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of neighbours here in Toronto.

As part of our 125th anniversary celebration, we are excited to launch GIVE 6IX, an opportunity to give in a uniquely Toronto way all across the city. This year, we’re inviting you to be part of the solution to poverty by giving your 6IX: whether you give six times or six hundred dollars, volunteer six hours or give six job interviews, purchase six bags of pasta or deliver six meals; GIVE 6IX is an invitation for neighbours to help neighbours, to increase the community of support in the city we love, in real, tangible and meaningful ways.

YSM has been serving and changing lives in Toronto for 125 years, but work remains to be done. Thank you for all the ways in which you support YSM, and community members. Together we can transform Toronto!

Learn more about the GIVE 6IX campaign at