WoodGreen’s UNMET campaign helping raise funds and awareness as focus put on needs of young people

WoodGreen Community Services launched its UNMET campaign last year. Photo: WoodGreen Community Services.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE

It’s been just over a year since WoodGreen Community Services launched its UNMET campaign, an initiative with aims of addressing Toronto’s most underserved needs and creating an equitable living experience for community members.

With a goal of raising both awareness and $25 million that will be used for a variety of WoodGreen programs, the campaign has so far been a great success, according to Teresa Vasilopoulos, Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation.

“One of the biggest things that we are noticing is just the increased awareness of WoodGreen and the services it provides,” said Vasilopoulos. “It’s kind of an organization that’s been flying under the radar for a long time.”

Vasilopoulos told Beach Metro Community News that more people have gained an understanding about WoodGreen’s position in society and the role it plays in helping neglected community members.

“We’re really happy about the increased awareness about the services, but also the increased awareness about the campaign,” she said.

Since launching the UNMET campaign in March 2023, WoodGreen has raised $16.8 million. Initially planned for as a three-to-five-year campaign, fundraising efforts appear to be well ahead of schedule with just $8 million left to raise.

Although the majority of funds raised have not yet been allocated, Vasilopoulos said that programs that support youth are a priority.

“Young people in our community are feeling that it’s harder to find a job and suffering from increased anxiety and mental health issues,” said Vasilopoulos. “They’ve lost a lot of their social connections, so it’s an area that we’re happy that we are getting some funds because we’re really going to double up our services in the youth area.”

On July 2, WoodGreen finalized a merger with Turning Point Youth Services which “will enable a more effective and integrated approach to the provision of comprehensive support services for youth in the GTA”, according to a WoodGreen news release.

Vasilopoulos said that WoodGreen is now in search of a space that will help “expand their youth service” and bring (Turning Point) under the umbrella.

WoodGreen aims to use some of the campaign donations to facilitate a “really dynamic youth wellness hub” that will offer a variety of services for young people.

With Turning Point’s expertise in Youth Housing and the criminal justice system, WoodGreen’s services have now expanded into an area that has seen an increase in demand over the past few years.

“We have been utilizing the funds, so far, on how we can expand the programs that we are offering,” said Vasilopoulos. “There’s been a lot of planning behind it so now we’ll start to use the funds that we have raised and start to put them to work.”

Though much of the focus will be on youth programs and housing, Vasilopoulos emphasized that the UNMET campaign prioritizes housing across all demographics.

Last year, WoodGreen pledged to use $5 million of the raised funds on seniors’ affordable housing and community care supports; $5 million for youth programs; $5 million for affordable housing for at-risk youth and marginalized populations; $3.5 million for housing, child care, training and education for women and children fleeing abusive environments; $2 million to address the training and employment needs of individuals who are unemployed or under-employed; $2 million for the expansion of settlement services to support 4,000 new refugees with housing and enhance skills training; and $2.5 million for immediate food and financial insecurity.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work and we’ve gone from under a thousand units of housing to close to 2,000 already,” said Vasilopoulos. “We’re hoping to get to 3,000 and eventually 5,000 units of housing. Incrementally, we’re using funds towards that.”

One of the latest properties under WoodGreen’s ownership and management is 802 Eastern Ave. which provides “permanent affordable” rentals in Leslieville.

This property is a three-storey building with 16 one-bedroom and two-bedroom rent-geared-to-income units.

“This new addition to our portfolio reinforces our commitment to building communities where opportunity and inclusivity are cornerstones,” said WoodGreen Community Services President & CEO, Anne Babcock.

“We believe everyone deserves a place to call home, and we’re proud to be a part of the solution to the housing challenges faced by so many in Toronto.”

WoodGreen now has 28 affordable housing sites in their growing Toronto portfolio.

To learn more about Toronto’s most underserved needs and how to help make a difference by supporting WoodGreen’s UNMET campaign, visit https://www.woodgreen.org/unmet


Was this article informative? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!