The work that The Corner does within the community would have not been possible without the adaptability, flexibility, and history that we share from strong partners that are willing to push the boundaries. Many of the programs, including the warm meal program, are built from the partnerships from some of The Corner’s Steering Committee members. In collaboration with Progress Place, Sherbourne Health, and The Neighbourhood Organization, The Corner shares a 7 year history in working together within St. James Town. The ability to convene, strategize, and pool together resources in a timely manner is the “pivoting” muscle each group possesses. This strength has been the driving force of what makes The Corner and Health Access St. James Town so responsive to the needs of the community over the years. It was seamless for Progress Place to support the food initiative. They have not only been working in St. James Town for 10 years, but also offer 3 meals a day, Monday to Friday, to our members and clients and 2 meals a day on weekends and holidays. Their Executive Director illustrates:
“When COVID-19 happened, and Ontario was declared to be in a state of emergency, we knew we would have to rally and figure out the best way to not only support our members in getting one meal a day, 6 days a week, but to also support our community partners who work with vulnerable elders with disabilities and multiple health issues. The Corner is one of our key partners and we offered meal delivery to some of their clients as well” – Criss Habal Brodek (Progress Place, Executive Director)
With regard to mobilizing volunteers, The New Common has had a partnership with The Corner for over 3 years now. They have contributed their capacity to engage deeply caring, positive and resourceful volunteers from the congregation of Trinity Life Church to support community events in St. James Town, from the St. James Town Festival, the annual holiday dinner, outreach pop up events and more. Their team has been able to mobilize 25 volunteers to support the food delivery efforts, and more is being planned in this area.
“Although it has only been a couple of weeks, I can safely say that it has been nothing short of a wonderful experience. Working side-by-side (not literally) with kind-hearted souls who share the same mission for helping is a humbling experience.
The staff are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. They have shown an exceptional level of coordination and leadership, which is always refreshing when joining a new organization. I would highly recommend getting involved here when you can. The work is not complicated and in fact, quite rewarding.
The seniors who utilize the service are most grateful when receiving the meals. Though physical distancing is still in place, their smiles are more than enough to show their appreciation. All of them to date have been very pleasant to interact with and some will engage in small talk. This is great because it helps to bridge the distancing and bring us closer in spirit.” –
– Daniel Renwick (Volunteer from Volunteer Toronto Program)
During the week of April 16th, The Corner partnered with Operation Ramzieh – a volunteer-run group from Ottawa, that was started by restaurateur
Abbis Mahmoud. They bought food in bulk, mobilizing volunteers to provide free food boxes to vulnerable seniors and others who were unable to access food during the pandemic. Operation Ramzieh has been receiving requests from all over Ontario, so when The Neighbourhood Office reached out on behalf of The Corner and their programs in the Thorncliffe neighbourhood, over 70 food boxes were delivered to The Corner for distribution to initiate this generous partnership.
Volunteers were mobilized again, this time a group of St. James Town ambassadors (community members who are trained in outreach and engagement) jumped in to help distribute the food boxes to residents in need in the buildings.
In order to identify the residents, Health Access St. James Town partners were called up to refer clients in St. James Town. By connecting with grassroots organisations and residents’ groups in St. James Town, 70 additional clients received meals. The Corner is working with a community dietician from Sherbourne Health to ensure that the food packages are in line with the Canada food guide and can be adapted to ensure longer storage, while remaining high in nutrients.
“My experience as a Community Ambassador at The Corner in the St. James Town community is very rich, especially because we work together with people from different backgrounds and cultures. We give our all to deliver food to the elderly and their family members, to cope with this pandemic (COVID-19) that is affecting the world today, with a very solid team spirit.”
– Lewis Monoe (Community Ambassador)