It is a peculiar feeling to be writing about our previous year and the successes the agency has seen, while also being present to what is taking place at this time in our neighbourhoods, in our country, and around the world. The publishing of our Impact Report puts us in that rare place of reflecting on the challenges we have faced; our positive accomplishments and successes; and looks hopefully towards our future and what lies ahead.
Both perspectives, of our past year’s success and of our future goals, have been unprecedentedly shaped by a tremendous demonstration of community support. We have indeed been inspired by community. Our group of champions has included donors, clients/ guests/members, volunteers, staff, board of directors, partner agencies, and funding bodies, all of whom played a part in launching the campaign that resulted in the building of our new Youth Centre. Dixon Hall’s little jewel in Regent Park did open its doors in spring 2020, though we have not yet been able to celebrate with an official opening. You will see more on the story of the Bill Graham Youth Centre within this report.
We know that we asked a great deal of our community, and they have been with us on a journey that enabled the creation of a very special space for our deserving youth participants.
Dixon Hall has accomplished a great many things during our 2019-2020 fiscal year, and we looked to the community to help us do it – they were always there. On the volunteer side, the agency welcomed more than 240 new volunteers to our team. And together, our Dixon Hall community raised more money for the agency than has been raised in previous years for Dixonlicious, which supports our many food programs, and for Music for Life, helping to provide music lessons to children who are a part of our Dixon Hall Music School. Thank you for that support.
The idea of community is not just a notion for us: it is tangible, reliable, present and of late, proven to be comforting, stalwart, adaptive and powerful. Our vision, mission and values have been realized by our family of support that resides in Toronto’s downtown east, and we are pleased to be able to share some of their stories in this year’s Impact Report. We’re also offering some insight into how we have adjusted our programs to address the growing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll see how strong a role our community played in keeping our programs up and running to support so many of those in need.
We are in the midst of challenging times, and during our last fiscal year we started the strategic work necessary to plan for our next five years. We’ll be ready to share these developments with you in the months to come, and you will see that our initiatives are ground-breaking and exciting. We are taking all the necessary steps to center our initiatives on race, equity and inclusion to be certain that our work remains focused on the social determinants of health and to honour our employees who have persevered, lifted us up and made us a better agency over the past 90 years. We’re thrilled to be able to share some of our heart-warming and life changing agency stories with you, as we also thank you for the positive impact you have had on our work and our community!
Director, People & Culture
Director, Seniors Services
Director, Children & Youth
Director, Music School
Director, Real Estate & Property Management
Director, Housing Services
Director, Philanthropy & Communications
Director, Employment Services
Special thanks to Gretchen Daniels, our outgoing CFO
Kevin Hibbert, FCPA, FCA
Robert Nam, MD, FRCSC
Honorary Board Member and Past Board Chair
A Sense of Community Inspires Trust and Resilience
Adolescence can be a tough time for any youth. For the young people of Regent Park and surrounding neighbourhoods, challenges are heightened by other factors including socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, financial insecurity and stigma. Our Children & Youth department works with youth to support them in overcoming barriers and to offer a deep sense of trust and community.
Custom programs are created and adjusted to meet the needs and concerns of our participants and their families. We offer a range of initiatives for children and youth aged 3-29 including after-school, evening and weekend programs, March Break and Summer Camps, and parental and family support groups. Recreational programs focused on sports and music are offered to engage youth in healthy, team-based activities where they can express themselves in a safe environment. Mentorship and girls-only programs offer support, encouraging strong social connections, healthier lifestyle options, and confidence-building opportunities to support youth in achieving their goals.
In 2019, staff attended three youth conferences to discover new ways to improve programming and strengthen impact. Earlier this year, the Children & Youth department also moved into their new home in the Bill Graham Youth Centre. As the team navigates the transition to the new space, they continue to prioritize the community; they respond to crisis; and they remain flexible with programming to address the needs of participants and their families.
Many of the youth that attend Dixon Hall Children & Youth programs stay beyond their young adulthood. Individuals come back as counsellors for camps, volunteers for programs, and as youth workers to give back to the community that once supported them. They relate to other participants in the programs, acting as role models, and have a contagious passion to make a difference in the community.
The challenges presented by the pandemic were met with resilience by the Children & Youth team. The closure of the Youth Centre meant a pause on some programs, and heightened anxiety for our clients and their families. The team introduced a range of online workshops focused on mindfulness, yoga, and dance to keep participants engaged. They also hosted online cooking and fitness classes. Emergency funding from United Way’s Local Love fund enabled the delivery of meals to families in need, and gave youth the opportunity to give back by helping with safe meal deliveries.
Creativity Inspires Self-expression and Personal Growth
Creative outlets are so important for youth. Participating in the arts and musical training allows young people to develop skills like language, reasoning, and self-expression, all of which help them succeed in their adult lives.
At Dixon Hall Music School, we’ve been working with youth from the Regent Park, Moss Park and St. Lawrence neighbourhoods for over 40 years. Our staff are committed to guiding students in their musical training, offering a sense of community and unity, and an opportunity to explore their self-identity. Students’ stories and successes inspire others in the community, creating a cultural lifeline for families and youth regardless of social status.
Since 1978, we have continued to explore and expand the offerings at Dixon Hall Music School. Today we offer a comprehensive program that follows students through all stages – and ages – of their musical and personal development. That includes lessons on musical theory, ear training, rock band, and orchestra – more than 20 different disciplines – to help them flourish regardless of their life’s circumstances.
2019 was an exciting year. The Music School moved out of the basement at 58 Sumach Street, and into our new Youth Centre in the heart of Regent Park. This colourful, bright, and inclusive space now reflects the inspiring youth enrolled at our music school.
In addition to our big move, we also expanded our program by hiring one of our former music students, Daniel Sheik, to lead our digital studio/composition and recording program. Daniel has been part of the Dixon Hall community from an early age, so when he heard about a staff opening in the music program, he jumped at the opportunity.
This program allows students to explore every avenue of the music industry from early-on ear training to musical proficiency, right through to recording and producing. Offering these programs to youth and children who may not have otherwise been given this experience means that they have the opportunity to grow and discover their real potential.
On March 21, 2020 we adapted our music programs to comply with the city-wide closures, and, thanks to The Azrieli Foundation, began offering free online music lessons to our students.
Dixon Hall Music School began hosting 33 online music classes each week, with close to 250 students actively involved in those online lessons. We also distributed 44 new music books to families in March so they would have resources to keep them going during the closure of our physical space. Our teachers supported each student’s development through virtual instructions and online tutorials. Parents expressed how the virtual lessons helped with their children’s mental well-being: “It is very helpful for our daughter’s skills as well as for her mental health to keep interacting with her wonderful instructor.”
Overcoming Adversity Inspires Transformation
The shelter system in Toronto is under constant stress as the number of individuals experiencing homelessness continues to grow. There are roughly 9,000 persons without adequate housing in the city at present*. To support this vulnerable population, Dixon Hall works with clients to help them find temporary or preferably permanent housing solutions; to assist with food security through community meals; and to offer harm reduction assistance.
Dixon Hall maintains that the solution to homelessness is housing. Last year we successfully enabled 159 clients to move into permanent housing. With every placement, the Housing Services team learns more about the homeless population and our clients’ needs, and the strategies and tools needed to combat the housing crisis.
Supporting individuals once they have been placed in housing, is a critical part of our work. The Layered Support and Supports to Daily Living teams maintain relationships with new tenants to stabilize their housing and make improvements through community engagement, volunteerism, social activities, dialogue and other supports.
The Housing department offers a range of food programs including weekly community meals and cooking classes to help those experiencing food insecurity. By offering lessons in meal preparation and nutrition, the team aims to educate clients so they are better prepared to independently lead a healthy life for themselves and their families.
During the winter of 2019, Dixon Hall continued to support the Out of the Cold Program until COVID-19 forced the early closure of those sites. In Cabbagetown, the Rooming House Project, now in its second year, continued to support tenants and enhance community relationships.
*Homeless Hub 2019, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, accessed July 27, 2020,
Ensuring the safety of Toronto’s homeless population has been one of the most significant challenges presented by COVID-19. We reduced the number of residents in all Emergency Shelters by between 40-50% to meet physical distancing requirements, and opened a 50-bed site to accommodate those who were displaced due to these changes. The Schoolhouse Shelter extended its services to become a 24-hour facility, and the team moved 155 clients from different sites into partner hotels for safer accommodations.
Additionally, the team increased the community meal schedule from two meals to as many as seven meals, serving over 200 clients weekly. Thanks to generous supporters, we also provided over $200 in grocery gift cards to each client.
We saw a 15% increase in the number of people being served in emergency shelters, but we also saw an increase in the number of individuals moved to housing. And that remains the most important work, supporting individuals in their transition from homelessness to home.
Steven is a client of Dixon Hall’s Housing Services, and is described by staff who know him as resilient and inspiring. He is the father of a young child with special needs who was taken into foster care when Steven was dealing with addiction and homelessness. Determined to get his child back, Steven took on the challenge of addressing his addiction and getting his life in order. Steven has now been sober for almost two years. During this time, he also developed and maintained a positive relationship with his son and his son’s foster parents, who were very supportive in his recovery. With the help of Dixon Hall, working in collaboration with Children’s Aid, Steven was able to exit the shelter system, find housing in a two-bedroom apartment in a quiet family neighbourhood where he now awaits reunification with his son. This has been delayed by the pandemic but is still imminent thanks to the support of Dixon’s Housing Team. Congratulations Steven, we are so proud of you.
Caring Inspires Community Connections
As the population of seniors in Toronto continues to grow each year, our Seniors Services department becomes increasingly essential to the well-being and livelihood of our community. According to Statistics Canada, we know that 92% of seniors are living more independently, in private dwellings, and for longer*, making the need for services and support programs even more important to our city.
At Dixon Hall, we are recognized for offering a wide range of programs to support diverse populations. For seniors, that includes services such as Housing Support, Adult Health & Wellness, Case Management, Community Transportation, and Meals on Wheels. By offering a comprehensive range of programs at highly-subsidized rates, we’re able to have a greater impact in serving the needs of individuals and the seniors’ community at large.
Over the past year, personal support workers from the Seniors Services team provided 106 seniors living in Supportive Housing units with over 14,000 hours of assisted living aid. During this time, we were also delighted to expand the program into the updated 192 Carlton Street location to bring our seniors together in a brighter, refreshed space where they can connect with friends, staff, and volunteers. In the community, our Meals on Wheels program continued to make a significant impact, serving over 60,000 prepared meals to clients, making us one of the largest mobile food programs in the city
*Statistics Canada 2018, Government of Canada, accessed July 16, 2020,
The pandemic demanded quick transformations from Dixon Hall in order to ensure the safety of our vulnerable seniors’ community. Physical distancing requirements and city-wide shutdowns led to a diminished volunteer pool across the agency, especially for Meals on Wheels. In spite of this challenge, we delivered 5,910 meals to seniors in March alone – a 24% increase from pre-pandemic months. Huge thanks to our dedicated staff and a core group of volunteers for helping us rise to the challenge. Frequency of wellness phone calls was increased and more outreach was done to high-risk clients. Personalized activity kits were delivered; Zoom activities such as Bingo, exercise, trivia and music sessions were scheduled throughout the week to help people stay in touch while staying safe.
Creating Opportunity Inspires Ambition
Dixon Hall Employment Services is dedicated to helping under-served communities of downtown East Toronto find training and employment opportunities. We work with clients of all ages to enhance their skills and prepare them to enter the workforce. These individuals may be overcoming personal and professional obstacles, or returning to the labour market after time away. They are resilient, determined, and eager to learn.
The Employment Services department offers a variety of programs to enhance clients’ qualifications, skill sets, and career opportunities; these teachings are done with the changing labour market top of mind. As a first step towards employment, we offer a Literacy and Basic Skills program. Members enrolled in this service develop literacy, numeracy and basic technological skills, which help them to achieve their employment goals. In 2019, we served 48 learners through this program, and completed the first cohort of Northstar Digital Literacy certified clients. We also celebrated three learners who contributed pieces to a collection of short stories published by the Toronto Public Library, Line By line: Sharing Our Stories and Ourselves.
The Employment Services team took part in a number of community events and job fairs including International Women’s Day, held by Voice of Immigrant Women, CSSP Job Fair for Trans and Gender Non-confirming People, and Women in the Trades Practitioner Round Table at GBC. The department co-facilitated resume writing workshops at the Revitalization Youth Ambassadors Forum, where 34 youth attended, and supported Community Update Meetings, organized by TCHC.
In August 2019, we partnered with Employment Connections Toronto to offer a multi-employer hiring event for clients and members of the community. More than 50% of our clients in attendance found employment at organizations such as Rogers, Teleperformance, and The Butler Did It, a local catering staffing company. The team also diversified their workshops and info sessions to attract more clients of varying backgrounds and needs.
For youth receiving Ontario Works benefits, we offer the Incubator and the Sustainable Food Sector Training Programs. Both are 8-week intensive courses that prepare students for a career in the hospitality/food services or trades sector. They are structured with a mix of classroom learning and hands-on experience, which equip graduates from both programs with the skills needed to excel in their future careers. Amanda Gacuti, a client who recently moved to Toronto, signed up for the Incubator program to help her transition to the hospitality industry. She was inspired by both the knowledge she gained, as well as the friendliness of staff and students:
As unemployment rates skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic, our Employment Services were needed more than ever. To accommodate job-seeking demands and opportunities, our team grew, adding several new members to ensure we could serve as many youth, newcomers, and people in need as possible. When our physical doors were forced to close, we reinvented our programs and services, and began offering virtual sessions and free one-on-one mentorships twice a week. We also developed two new employment services websites to increase access to virtual services.
“Giving back to society and the satisfaction in doing so, through the little acts of kindness is very important to me. The most rewarding thing is seeing the smiles on people’s faces and their appreciation as well. Whenever you do good to others, it will surely come back to you”.
As a newcomer to Canada, Hilda learned of Dixon Hall and its programs from a friend. She began as a volunteer in August 2019, donating her time to three different programs: Meals on Wheels, Seniors’ Telephone Reassurance, and as an assistant in our People & Culture Department. Hilda maintains that it is the strong work, that positively impacts so many, that kept her inspired to come back day after day. Through her time volunteering at Dixon Hall, Hilda was also introduced to new opportunities and experiences, which in turn led to new networks, new relationships, and new employment. Hilda now inspires others to volunteer, acting as a strong advocate for helping others and paying it forward.
“Hau Tran represents exactly what we’re trying to build and foster through the Rooming House Project: community spirit and support. We’re so grateful to have him as a part of our community.”
JENNIFER MOXON, MANAGER, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
After immigrating to Canada, Hau has found a new home in Toronto’s east end. He is described as the kind of person who always enjoys supporting his neighbours and community. While Hau also subsists on a low income, he still strives to make the lives of those around him a little easier. He has volunteered with Dixon Hall’s Rooming House Project for over a year, supporting programming by offering his skills to make meals and serve dinners to his community and neighbours.
Hau is always willing to help when needed. When Dixon Hall’s site at 188 Carlton needed some extra landscaping support, Hau was eager to get involved. Each week he volunteers approximately 5-10 hours, and ensures that the grounds to the building are well-maintained and looking their best. Hau is an asset to his community, and always puts his neighbours first.
“The consistent support from corporate groups like RBC is an inspiration to the community. Their commitment to helping and engaging with Dixon Hall clients, neighbours and individuals in need is unwavering. Their work is meaningful, and creates positive change in the neighbourhood and beyond.”
DWIGHT ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, PEOPLE & CULTURE
RBC has long been a generous and active supporter of Dixon Hall. From offices and branches across the GTA, RBC employees continuously come out and show their support for the organization. In 2019, RBC teams supported seven community meals, preparing and serving breakfast and dinner for community members in need. They also have several regular Meals on Wheels teams who help deliver meals to Dixon Hall clients. In the past year, RBC corporate teams came out to support Meals On Wheels more than 80 times. They also organized two clothing drives for us in the fall and winter months, focusing on finding warm gear, jackets, boots, and new mitts and hats to help clients prepare for the cold months ahead. In addition to all this, RBC’s volunteer efforts are often accompanied by grants intended to support our programs. This incredible team has been with us for years; we are so thankful for all they’ve done, and for all they continue to do.
The last month of our fiscal year was consumed by COVID-19. However, our staff, volunteers, and donors didn’t waste a minute in adapting their routines and efforts to support our community’s most vulnerable.
Homemade masks made by Dixon Hall donors and volunteers
The Azrieli Foundation
$25,000 – $99,999
1625329 Ontario Limited
Peter Gilgan Foundation
Robert Kerr Foundation
Kurdyak Family Foundation
The Minstrel Foundation For Music And Arts Advancement
Shaw Communications Inc.
The Silver Hotel Group / Ruparell Foundation
The Slaight Family Foundation
Estate Of Charles Witherall
WSP Canada Inc.
$10,000 – $24,999
The Bitove Foundation
Nancy and Rod Bolger
Burgundy Asset Management Ltd.
The Daniels Corporation
Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust
McKinsey & Company
Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation
Rotary Club of Toronto
$5,000 – $9,999
1832 Asset Management
Bingham Family Foundation
Cambria Design Build
Edwards Charitable Foundation
Evershed Investment Corporation
Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc.
Cathy and the Honourable Bill Graham
Greater Toronto Apartment Association (Charitable Foundation)
The Hope Charitable Foundation
Last Gang Records Inc.
Bill Morneau and Nancy McCain
George and Del Milbrandt
Optimus SBR Inc.
G. Scott Paterson Foundation
Andrew and Valerie Pringle
Relay Ventures Canada Inc.
Shoppers Drug Mart Life Foundation
Dawn Tattle Family Foundation
TD Bank Group
Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund
Warner Music Canada
$1,000 – $4,999
1754969 Ontario Limited
Paul and Kaye Beeston
Brian Bimm and Margaret Lynch
CHUM Charitable Foundation
Creative Planning Financial Group
Dawson Family Sharing Foundation
Catherine De Giusti
Dorrance Drummond Family Foundation
Vivien Dzau and Daniel MacIntosh
Elspeth Heyworth Bursary Fund at Toronto Foundation
JCIC Asset Management Inc.
The Henry White Kinnear Foundation
J. Spencer Lanthier
Cathy and Allen Loyst
lululemon athletica Canada Inc.
Tony and Pat Minard
Cosmin and Ramona Munteanu
Blake Murray and Nancy Riley
Harry A. Newman Foundation
Performing Arts Lodges, Toronto
Rogers Communications Inc.
Round13 Capital Inc.
Stringer LLP Management Lawyers
N. James Swan Memorial Scholarship Fund
Tailwind Capital Inc.
Upper Canada College
Waratah Capital Advisors Ltd.
The following donors generously supported our Capital Campaign. Thanks to you, we’ve built a new Youth Centre in the heart of Regent Park.
Cathy and the Honourable Bill Graham
$100,000 – $999,999
Nancy and Rod Bolger
Employees of CIBC Capital Markets, through United Way Toronto & York Region Campaign
Clark Family Foundation
The Daniels Corporation
The Honourable Margaret McCain
TD Bank Group
Jeff Thomas and Christie Love Thomas
$50,000 – $99,999
The Azrieli Foundation
Bickle-Wilder Foundation, through United Way
BMO Financial Group
Vivien Dzau and Daniel MacIntosh
The Fyfe Foundation
The Gordon and Ruth Gooder Charitable Foundation
Pace Family Foundation
$25,000 – $49,999
Scott Bell and Susan Nickerson
Steven K. Hudson
Hal Jackman Foundation
Karen and Bruce MacLellan
Judith Malkin and Elliott Jacobson
Myfanwy Marshall and Matthew Willis
$10,000 – $24,999
The Elizabeth and Tony Comper Foundation
Gordon and Pamela Henderson
Nancy and John McFadyen
Pat and Tony Minard
Bill Morneau and Nancy McCain
Tim Moseley and Yung Dai
Kathleen and David Penny
Valerie and Andrew Pringle
Robins Appleby LLP
The Thompson T. Egbo-Egbo Arts Foundation
$1,000 – $9,999
Jean Blacklock and Andrew Auerbach
Sarah Caskey and Richard Swan
Darren Cooney and Robert Brien
Golden Credit Card Trust
Janet and Bill Hallett
Mary Jane and Tom Heintzman
Audrey S. Hellyer Charitable Foundation
IBM Matching Program
Lok Hing Liu
Adrian and The Honourable Donald S. Macdonald
Peter MacKenzie and Kate Zeidler
Sue and Steve Murphy
Nancy Riley and Blake Murray
Danielle Szandtner and John Fox
UP TO $999
Clair Balfour and Marci McDonald
Body By Chosen
Walter M. and Lisa Balfour Bowen
Phyllis and Robert Couzin
F. Aquila Hanseer-Rizvi
Cathy Jones and David Reville
Mary McDougall Maude
Heather and Jim Peterson
|For the year ended March 31||2020||2019|
|City of Toronto||$ 12,101,705||$ 8,420,810|
|Province of Ontario||3,060,777||3,061,513|
|United Way of Greater Toronto and York Region||829,016||829,166|
|Amortization of deferred contributions relating to property and equipment||231,119||131,669|
|Housing and homelessness programs||11,943,050||8,037,677|
|Community development programs||302,141||318,146|
|Infrastructure and support services||165,209||381,673|
|Excess of revenue over expenses||$ 58,195||$ 45,774|