Just one day after WoodGreen’s 86th birthday, the organization had an even bigger reason to celebrate—it received the largest single donation in its history.
On April 13, The Sprott Foundation announced at a press conference that it was giving WoodGreen a $4 million gift to go towards a new affordable housing building for seniors at 60 Bowden St. The gift also launched the fundraising portion of WoodGreen’s UNMET needs campaign, an ambitious campaign to raise $25 million to address the pressing unmet needs in Toronto.
“We look forward to walking alongside WoodGreen as this far-reaching project unfolds – and hope our investment will inspire others to step forward to help WoodGreen address the unmet needs in our community,” said Juliana Sprott, The Sprott Foundation’s Chief Giving Officer.
More affordable homes for seniors coming to Toronto’s East End
The project will transform the site of Danforth Baptist Church into 50 new affordable one-bedroom and studio apartments for underserved seniors. The eight-storey, pre-modular complex will preserve parts of the historical architectural elements of the church, including the sanctuary – blending the traditional brick and stone towers of the church with a modern mass-timber structure to create a striking new landmark on the Danforth.
“Seniors are one of the fastest growing populations that require affordable housing, and we all witnessed the vulnerability of seniors during COVID,” said Anne Babcock, President & CEO of WoodGreen Community Services. “This building will allow seniors to live safely in their own community, out of the hospital or long-term care facilities and with wrap-around supports that ensure quality care and aging with dignity.”
Tenants of the building will access a full spectrum of health and wellness supports, along with innovative programs, common spaces, and amenities, designed to enhance their quality of life. In addition, the project will establish a commercial kitchen and a community food bank, with an emphasis on fresh, healthy food, continuing the community benefit to the neighbourhood.
Part of the building will also include two of WoodGreen’s signature ‘clusters’ of care. Each cluster will bring together eight to 10 frail seniors with complex needs in a group living environment with round-the-clock assistance from trained staff—safeguarding residents’ health and safety and lessening the pressures on hospitals and long-term care.
WoodGreen tackling pressing unmet needs in Toronto
The needs in Toronto, such as housing, have never been greater. In addition to a housing crisis, the city is facing inflation and is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. More and more, individuals and families are falling into poverty and are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. At the same time, social services organizations, such as WoodGreen, are increasingly receiving more requests from community members for assistance.
“Increasingly, it is the social service sector that is stepping into the breach, holding this city together with food banks for people who are hungry, mental health counselling for people, young and old, who are overwhelmed by their circumstances, support for refugees fleeing atrocity, crisis services for isolated seniors, a safe place to live for individuals experiencing homelessness, and so much more,” said Bill MacKinnon, Chair of the WoodGreen Foundation Board of Directors.
WoodGreen's UNMET Needs Campaign is raising funds to support those who are unhoused, unemployed, unsafe (women fleeing abuse), unseen (vulnerable seniors), unsupported (youth needing mental health and other supports), and newcomers who are sometimes feeling unwelcome. With help from donors, WoodGreen provides access to supports that ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive.