How ETHP is supporting individuals and families during the holidays

Staff at Les Centres d’Accueil Héritage wearing Santa hats and reindeer ears

While the holidays are typically associated with joy and spending time with loved ones, this time of year can be particularly challenging for individuals and families who are low-income, isolated or lack resources related to food, health, housing and other supports.

To help address this, a number of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) organizations are offering special holiday programs and services that help connect local residents with the supports they need. Combined with our community surge initiatives, these programs and services help improve the physical and mental health – and overall well-being – of people in East Toronto during the holidays.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the holiday programs and services that our partners are offering this year.

Addressing food and clothing insecurity

  • Access Alliance MHCS is hosting its annual Holiday Hamper Program for residents of Taylor-Massey and Oakridge. Through this program, over 100 residents will receive prepared and delivered hampers containing food and gifts such as clothing, shoes and toys. To find out how to sign up or for more information, please contact talktous@accessalliance.ca or call 416-693-8677.

  • To best support food-insecure residents, Access Alliance MHCS is also distributing grocery gift cards to over 300 clients and hosting a holiday take-out lunch event on December 14 for 150 residents and community members.

  • Fontbonne Ministries’ Mustard Seed site (791 Queen St. E.) is offering take-out meals on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The site is also hosting a seasonal clothing and hygiene boutique from its loading dock on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Addressing social isolation

  • Les Centres d’Accueil Héritage (CAH) has relaunched its Monday evening Bingo program for fully vaccinated members of its Seniors Active Living Centre. CAH is also planning a holiday shopping outing on December 10 and holiday meals on December 16 and 17 for its members.
  • On December 31, there will be a special New Year celebration at CAH as residents ring in 2022 together. In addition, the organization continues to offer afternoon coffee breaks three times a week at its Seniors Active Living Centre, which gives residents the opportunity to chat and socialize. To learn more, or to join CAH’s community of French-speaking seniors, please contact Ayda Amar at aamar@caheritage.org.

Supporting seniors

  • Home Instead is hosting its annual Be a Santa to a Senior Program until December 17. In collaboration with ETHP, Home Instead will identify and deliver hundreds of gifts to isolated seniors and seniors in need across the community ahead of the holidays.

  • The program provides not only an opportunity for anyone wishing to extend some goodwill to sponsor a local senior in need, but also the opportunity for some partners to integrate this charitable program into their holiday activity plans.

  • Individuals or groups can sponsor local seniors by selecting a gift ornament from a local “Gift Tree”, by shopping online from a sponsored seniors “wish list” or by charitable donations which are channeled in full to local foundations to support their Christmas programming activities. Learn more about the Be a Santa to a Senior Program online or by calling your local Home Instead office.

Improving health and well-being

  • On December 8, Les Centres d’Accueil Héritage (CAH) is offering a special workshop about healthy eating during the holiday season. On January 19, CAH will offer another workshop about managing joint pain. This builds on numerous workshops that CAH has hosted throughout November, which provided people with tangible tools to overcome social isolation and cope with stress.

  • In addition, CAH will continue to offer weekly exercise sessions and yoga classes through Zoom. To learn more, or to join CAH’s community of French-speaking seniors, contact Ayda Amar at aamar@caheritage.org.

  • At Fontbonne Ministries, there will be additional programming starting in the New Year, including meditation, tai chi, music therapy, recreational art and foot care. To learn more or to register, contact azimmer@fontbonneministries.ca or call 416-465-6069.

  • Throughout December, Nellie’s Women Experiencing Abuse and Violence Program is offering Goddess Martial Arts, where women of all ages and abilities can experience easy-to-learn and trauma-informed violence prevention strategies and skills. These include safety awareness, verbal assertiveness and de-escalation techniques. Lunch and TTC tokens will be provided for all participants. To learn more, download the flyer or contact Suad@nellies.org or Wahi@nellies.org.

  • Emily’s House, an operating division of the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care, is building on its residence programs with EH@Home, a service that provides family-centred compassionate care to children (and their families) living with the challenges of complex, life-limiting illnesses, in the comfort of their own homes.

  • The service brings everything families need, including knowledge, care and love, right to their doorsteps with the people they already know or those who will be a part of their child’s care journey. The specialized training that the EH@Home team has in paediatric care – in both the respite and palliative areas – is second to none. For more information about how clients can utilize this service, contact amandam@philipazizcentre.ca or call 416-363-9196 ext. 211.

Spreading holiday cheer

  • Access Alliance MHCS is supporting over 450 families and more than 800 children through the Toronto Star Santa Claus Gift Box. This initiative provides children under the age of 12 with a gift to open during the winter holiday season. These gifts consist of personal items, gender-neutral and age-appropriate toys, and dental hygiene products.

  • In collaboration with CP24 CHUM Project, Access Alliance MHCS is also providing toys and gifts cards to over 300 low-income, non-insured, refugee and newcomer families.

If you are a member of ETHP and would like to share what your organization is doing to support individuals and families in East Toronto this holiday, please contact lucy.lau@tehn.ca.

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