The Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre Community Spotlight, Workday Wellness, and Positives of Flexible Work Hours

Spring Flower Buds

The Benchmark community is filled with people and organizations that use their work to give back to the community, and we are very excited to highlight The Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre in this month’s Community Spotlight. Congratulations to them as they just celebrated their 42 anniversary!

According to the Executive Director of PARC, Victor Willis, the idea of PARC began in 1977 when a group of volunteers observed the large number of adults living in Parkdale rooming and boarding houses. The initial group of volunteers opened PARC in 1980, and since then, they have grown to support countless individuals in Parkdale that needed a home, a job, or even a friend.

40 years ago, PARC opened its doors as a pilot community mental health program after observing the people who needed assistance the most were survivors of psychiatric programs with few means and even fewer places to go for connection with their peers. Since then, PARC has provided member-driven programming, employment, food security, social space, and safe, supportive affordable housing that has been adapted to suit the needs of its members.

Through providing take-out food options during the pandemic and 150 affordable housing apartments, PARC has made an incredible impact on our community, but there is still so much further they want to go. PARC will be hosting a fundraising event on March 31st and you can get your tickets HERE. 

Learn more about PARC and all they continue to do for the community HERE.

 

Check out the full interview below:

“The idea of PARC – The Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre (Toronto) – began in 1977 when a group of volunteers observed the large number of adults living in Parkdale rooming and boarding houses. Many were survivors of the psychiatric system, had little money, few family contacts, and no real place to go and connect with peers. On March 17th, 1980, PARC opened its doors as a pilot community mental health program.

Our passion for providing member-driven programming, employment, food security, social space, and safe, supportive affordable housing has evolved and grown to meet our members’ needs for over 40 years.

PARC provides a Home, a Job, and a Friend in the neighbourhood of Parkdale. In 1980 PARC had two staff. Today PARC employs over 120 people, the majority being people with lived experience of mental health, homelessness, poverty, or a substance use history. Starting with 10 apartments in 2000, the organization has increased the number of homes to 151 across eight addresses. 

For forty years, we have responded to food insecurity by providing a nutritious meal to hundreds of adults every day of the week. When Covid-19 made it unsafe to have large numbers of people, our kitchen team moved to create hundreds of meals to go. In the early months of the pandemic, PARC was one of the very few places in Parkdale offering meals and services. Lines snaked along the entire block. PARC focused on providing access to our space for adults experiencing homelessness to meet safe occupancy guidelines.

Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed a progressive loss of low-rent units in Parkdale. The erosion of private-market affordable housing has led PARC to respond by acquiring older buildings. This is a risky and expensive endeavour because the previous owners often extracted as much value from the properties as possible by deferring necessary structural maintenance and upgrades.

As we look to the next 40 years, PARC will continue to intervene in the loss of affordable housing by acquiring buildings in the neighbourhood. The current waitlist for individuals seeking supportive affordable housing is over 20,000 people. 

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the many remarkable staff who have dedicated much of their career to supporting the people we serve. PARC is fortunate to have many employees with 20 years of service. Some close to 30 years, and then there is Cathy Laws who has anchored our Finance Department for 35 years.”

Victor WillisExecutive Director PARC

 

We are hosting a fundraising event on March 31, 2022: LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EVENT HERE

PARC Website

PARC Donation link

PARC Newsletter


Welcome back to the Workday Wellness Series! This month we are thrilled to welcome back Paria Mirazimi from Athleticx Academy to share with us her Love and Kindness Meditation. In our everyday lives, we are so often our own harshest critics and do not treat ourselves with the same kindness we do others. So take the time to follow the full meditation, and show yourself some love and kindness with Paria.

View the rest of the Workday Wellness Playlist HERE


 

 

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, employers globally have had to re-evaluate what support is critical to their employees’ success and happiness, as many traditional systems were no longer viable in an online work environment.

Whether working in an essential field or an office, Canadian employees all agree that flexible hours and more sick days are critical moving forward. To see the complete study VIEW HERE.