UNMET Gala raises $1.5 million for WoodGreen Foundation

Juliana Sprott, of the Sprott Foundation, paints over the UN portion of the UNMET Needs campaign sign during a news conference on April 13 at 60 Bowden St. Photo by Amarachi Amadike.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

WoodGreen Foundation raised $1.5 million at the UNMET Gala held last Thursday, May 4.

The black-tie event, which took place at the Royal Ontario Museum, proved to be a major step towards meeting the $25-million goal for the UNMET Needs Fundraising Campaign which began earlier this year.

Presented by Rogers Communication Inc., the gala was WoodGreen’s largest fundraising event in the organization’s history. WoodGreen Community Services has been serving East Toronto and beyond in numerous capacities including seniors’ support, affordable housing and childcare programs for more than 80 years.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support for our UNMET Needs Campaign, which will ensure we can continue delivering high-quality, front-line, positive change in our city,” stated WoodGreen Foundation’s Executive Director Teresa Vasilopoulos in a press release.

During Thursday’s event, she announced that all donations will go towards providing much needed affordable housing in the city, as well as funding unemployment services, and women and youth support programs.

With many in the city feeling the hardships of the current affordability crisis, $2.5 million will be set aside for immediate food and financial insecurity.

The UNMET Gala was attended by more than 450 of Toronto’s business and philanthropic leaders, according to a press release.

The night’s theme, Come As You Are, was “inspired by the heritage of the gala co-chairs, Krystal Koo and Fernanda Dovigi” as it aimed to celebrate Toronto’s diversity by “reimagining the Royal Ontario Museum as a vibrant fusion of Chinese and Brazilian cultures, adorned in feathers, fiery colours and jewels”.

The gala’s success comes just weeks after a record-setting donation by the Sprott Foundation which contributed $4 million to the UNMET cause. This has brought WoodGreen one step closer to achieving its goal of meeting the increased demands of Toronto’s underserved population.

“WoodGreen’s work is critical to the health and vibrancy of our city, and we wanted to shine a light on the transformative impact it has had on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” said Koo. “It’s been an honour to celebrate WoodGreen as a trusted and compassionate ally for so many.”

The two-part campaign just launched its fundraising phase last month. Although the campaign is expected to last between three to five years, public records show that they have already raised at least $5.5 million so far.

“We launched the campaign in response to the dramatic increase in demand for social services stemming from the pandemic,” said Vasilopoulos. “Toronto is now at a pivotal point of change and WoodGreen plays a critical role in helping to address unmet needs.”

To learn more about WoodGreen’s UNMET Needs Campaign, please visit www.woodgreen.org/unmet

Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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