People live and thrive in community.
When Filsan came to Canada, she came as a woman with great hope for her and her family. Settling in Regent Park, all Filsan could see was opportunity. Her father had raised her and her siblings to be community minded. The reality of settling into Canada began to take its toll as Filsan’s husband had difficulty finding employment and she was unable to find an avenue to launch her dream – to form a sewing club business. Many years later, with the dream almost dead, Filsan connected with a YSM Community Development Worker who simply listened. In a few short months there was a sewing club meeting to come up with product ideas as Filsan provided the training. This group has thrived tremendously, growing from small community based sales into a partnership with YSM and OCAD University to develop marketable products. It culminated in a fair where the revenue generated was put back into the business and divided among the women to help support their families. Not only is the business thriving, the community is too. The women are supporting each other with childcare pick up and dropping off meals when someone is sick.
The Yonge Street Mission’s Community Development program is built around working with people and organizations to effect positive change where they live. The key to this is helping them discover, develop and gain greater control over their individual skills and talents. Building upon these strengths creates opportunities for people to come together and form new friendships through shared interests and activities. The result is not only a more vibrant and inclusive neighbourhood, but residents who are motivated to actively participate in its growth and future.
Last year a group of women from various countries – such as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – met to teach basic sewing classes in the community. They wanted to start selling some of the items they made so they organized a small group of women who had great sewing skill and willingness to form a collective. Now they design their own items to sell and meet together every week as a group to try sewing new designs.
For YSM, ending chronic poverty in Toronto can only be achieved by intentional and coordinated action at three levels. Learn more about the other levels: