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October 14, 2004
WoodGreen Community Services launches innovative, Toronto-based transition program
  
Homeward Bound to guide young moms and their children to self-sufficiency

WoodGreen Community Services and their private and public sector partners
launched Homeward Bound today. Young mother-led families who have experienced
homelessness will benefit from Canada's first fully integrated transition
program.

"Our experience, along with empirical research, indicates that providing
shelter simply isn't enough -- a holistic approach is essential for these
families to achieve stable and sustainable lifestyles," said Brian Smith,
President of WoodGreen Community Services, a non-profit organization which
supports 37,000 individuals and families each year to become more
self-sufficient and to live independently in Toronto's east end. "The strength
of Homeward Bound lies in the breadth of education and support services offered
to both mothers and their children."

Homeward Bound is a permanent, Toronto-based program that uniquely integrates
work, family and life-skills development initiatives to help participants
achieve total self-sufficiency. The program is a result of the pioneering
efforts of WoodGreen and the personal commitment of prominent Canadian business
leader Ed Clark, President and CEO of the TD Financial Group, and his wife,
Fran.

"Fran and I firmly believe that providing these families with a place to call
home, a sense of community and a feeling that they are cared for goes a long
way towards helping them become self-sufficient," said Clark. "WoodGreen's
Homeward Bound program adds the critical component of skills training that will
help these women and children take control of their lives and have better
futures."

Thirty-two Toronto-area women can be enrolled in the new program that operates
out of a new six-storey, 32-unit apartment building in two- to three-year
cycles -- the time program managers feel is required for families to
successfully transition to independent living.

This innovative partnership is supported by all three orders of government in
partnership with The Counselling Foundation of Canada, The Ontario Trillium
Foundation, Sun Life Financial, TD Canada Trust, Seneca College, East York
Rotary Club and the United Way.

"We are proud to be a partner in this project," said Joe Volpe, Minister of
Human Resources and Skills Development. "The Government of Canada is committed
to provide families with the support and tools they need to ensure their
children have the best possible start in life."

"No Canadian should go to bed hungry or without a roof over their head," said
Joe Fontana, Minister of Labour and Housing. "This project will look after the
needs of people who need our support the most."

The first group of women entered into the program was selected by WoodGreen
management and staff based upon a specific set of criteria, which includes
living status (single mothers living with their children), academic aptitude,
and willingness to commit to the complete program. These families have access
to life-changing support and services including: life skills and career
preparation; IT training; college computer studies; a children's program,
including daycare; housing; and guaranteed jobs upon program completion.

"It is an honour to be a part of WoodGreen's efforts in opening the door to new
beginnings," said Councillor Case Ootes, Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth. "It is
exciting to see the federal and provincial governments working closely with the
City of Toronto, Mr. Clark and all the other partners to provide housing and
education to this group of young mothers and their children."

The Government of Canada, through its Supporting Communities Partnership
Initiative administered by the City of Toronto, provided a total of $2 million
for the capital construction costs of the new six-storey, 32-unit apartment
building. Through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Canadian Centre for
Public-Private Partnerships in Housing, a $62,754 Proposal Development Funding
loan was provided. The Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Municipal
Affairs and Housing, provides rent supplements to the families housed at
Homeward Bound.

Founded as a community centre in 1937, WoodGreen has grown to more than 15
locations and has hundreds of partner organizations. Its mission is to deliver
services that promote wellness and self-sufficiency, reduce poverty and
inequality, and build sustainable communities. Every year, WoodGreen supports
more than 37,000 individuals and families to help them to live independently
within their own communities. The organization does this through a number of
essential services, including affordable housing solutions, employment
training, quality child care, after-school programs, help for new immigrants,
supports for individuals with mental health or developmental challenges, and
care for seniors.

Media Contacts:
Joe Romagnolo, Pilot Public Relations, 416-705-1723, joe@pilotpr.com
Jacqueline Whittingham, WoodGreen Community Services, 416-469-5211,
jwhittingham@woodgreen.org
Catherine Kaye, Government of Canada, 416-954-7302
Cynthia Ross, Toronto Shelter, Housing and Support, 416-392-0546, 416-435-3838
(cell), cross@toronto.ca



 

 

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