Approximately 7,500 donors give annually to enhance a wide array of City programs. Here are some stories of how their gifts made the City a better place for residents and visitors alike.
Animal lovers have illustrated time and again that they’re willing to give in support of the City’s Animal Services. From surgical supplies to dog behavioural consultations, there are many direct and meaningful ways that your donations help.
Diego Valencia came to Canada from Mexico as a student and talented musician. While he was impressed by his experience in this country and by the quality of life enjoyed by so many here, he was always moved by the those he saw living in the streets. Although Diego was on a student budget he never hesitated to help people in need, even when all he could offer was the jacket off of his back. Following his sudden passing in 2015, Diego’s parent’s established the Amigos De Diego Valencia Fundacion in his honour. On a recent trip to Toronto, it was Diego’s mother’s mission to give to the cause that was so important to Diego. The Friends of Diego Foundation made a donation to the City of Toronto in support of senior clients that are homeless and staying at Scarborough Village Residence. The donation will help pay for medication when an individual does not have access to a drug benefit program. The mission was accomplished, in honour of Diego.
In the summer of 2019, donors lead by the INNovators funded 10 attendees at the Montgomery’s Inn’s inaugural summer camp. The Inn’s acting program officer explains the impact.
With the donations in place…we then worked with our colleagues in Parks and Recreation, from the Investing in Families team and our local free community centre, to ensure those spots were allocated equitably. They contacted families on their waitlist for free camp programs. In this way, we were able to run a full camp, reach new audiences who would not have otherwise been able to attend a Museum camp, all while advancing Inclusion & Equity. The feedback from parents showed how valuable this contribution was.
In the mid-2000s, donors contributed more than $20,000 to restore a small bake oven in the museum’s tearoom. Staff and volunteers began working extensively with the restored oven, recreating historic recipes..
As the number and skill of the volunteer bakers increased, they began to outstrip the capacity of the small tearoom bake oven. Individuals and local businesses expressed interest in purchasing bake oven bread, but the tiny oven just could not meet the demand. In 2010, donors, lead by a volunteer group called the INNovators, contributed another $20,000 towards an outdoor bake oven that was completed in the spring of 2011.
The outdoor bake oven and associated farmers’ market created many new and enriching volunteer roles—volunteer bakers, bread sellers and tour guides during market hours. These volunteer positions offer great skills training, and several volunteers have subsequently found employment with market vendors.
The outdoor bake oven is also used for the museum’s children’s camp programming, where baking a pizza on the final day is regularly listed as a camp highlight. The oven is additionally used by George Brown for a series of highly popular hands-on bread baking workshops. In 2020 the Inn plans to host community groups for a series of community bake oven nights, bringing people together over the shared warmth and food of the bake oven. All of this is possible due to the generous support of donors.
The Maze on Toronto Island was created of cedar hedges in 1967 as a gift from the Netherlands Centennial Association. Over time however, taller trees nearby cast a shadow over the maze and by 2011 it had all but withered. The cost of recreating the maze was estimated at $200,000 and without room in the budget the City decided that the maze would be removed.
Mr. William Meany was born not far from the Island and as a child he adored running through the fantastical maze. Years passed and Mr. Meany became a very successful businessman in Calgary. He often returned to Toronto and visited the maze but arriving in 2012, he was astounded to find that it had disappeared. When he called the City to enquire, he learned that the plan to rebuild the maze had been shelved for want of $200,000. He immediately he offered the solution. “We’re going to get the maze,” Mr. Meany declared. He would donate the funds necessary to recreate the maze from the original plans, working with Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
The Island community came together with City workers who toiled along Boy Scouts and all kinds of volunteers in planting trees in the hundreds. Eventually the moment arrived in June of 2015 and the man who saved the maze drew a crowd while the City officials brought a plaque and revealed ‘The William Meany Maze’.