This past spring, the Gay Lea Foundation awarded a grant to the Christie Refugee Welcome Centre (CRWC) to purchase new bedframes and mattresses so the centre can continue to provide dignified care, support and assistance to refugee families.
CRWC was established in 1989 in downtown Toronto. It is the largest shelter in Toronto dedicated to helping refugee families. It provides emergency shelter, initial settlement services, onsite health care and follow-up support for refugee families from all ethnic, racial or religious backgrounds. CRWC owns and operates three buildings with 76 beds.
Its Shelter Program is the core of CRWC’s services. Every year, approximately 300 homeless refugee claimants (100 families) will live in the centre. Operating at full capacity for more than 30 years has taken a toll on the shelters’ beds, many of which haven’t been replaced for 20 years.
With a Gay Lea Foundation grant of $8,000, CWRC purchased 20 new bedframes and mattresses to replace some of the older beds.
“Before the pandemic, CRWC was always at full capacity,” said Manny Wong, Donor Development at CRWC. “With borders closed, we have been running at approximately 50 per cent capacity for the past year. While this is a new experience for us, it has allowed us to perform some much-needed renovations with minimal disruption to our residents.”
The CRWC set up the new bedframes in rooms that weren’t occupied and then moved residents into the newly furnished rooms. They have also renovated bathrooms and conducted other upgrades to their buildings.
“With the Gay Lea Foundation grant, we have replaced beds that were close to breaking, which has prevented some of our clients from sleeping on cots,” says Wong. “We are committed to maintaining the dignity of our clients and creating a safe space for refugees that is conducive to healing after the trauma of displacement. This investment has allowed us to continue this important work.”
On behalf of our board, staff and volunteers, I would like to thank the Gay Lea Foundation for its generous grant.”