By: Jodee Brown
Amid the negative press Scarborough has received in recent months, one community centre is doing its part to ensure positive work is carried out in the city.
The East Scarborough Storefront, based in the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park area (4040 Lawrence Ave. E.), has hosted a number of programs tailored towards improving social and economic structure within the community for the last 10 years.
Through its Service Delivery Hub program, the Storefront provides food and technological resources for Scarborough residents to delve into, working through 35 partners, including the Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough, City of Toronto Public Health and the Horn of Africa Parents Association.
Additionally, the Storefront provides opportunities for residents to improve their community by any means, with 400 volunteers to its credit who help run everything from clean-up events to a community garden.
This prompted the Storefront to outline the Tower Neighbourhood Project, a plan aimed at bringing residents and property owners together to build a local tower block between 4000 and 4010 Lawrence Ave. E.
The Storefront’s director, Anne Gloger, insists that whenever Scarborough residents develop ideas dedicated to promoting growth within their community, the centre is willing to help.
“The idea is that if residents have ideas to improve their neighbourhood, we work with them. We work with anyone and everyone who wants to improve the economic well-being of the neighbourhood,” she said. “Our vision is to create a thriving community economically, socially and environmentally.”
The Storefront volunteer group consists mostly of young residents as 80 per cent of volunteers are young people, according to Gloger.
The Storefront director believes the reason for this is because young people have the most desire to ignite change.
“Youth are traditionally the ones who want to see the world work differently. This is giving them an opportunity to make things different in their community,” Gloger said.
The youth resource specialist for the East Scarborough Storefront, Shane Beharry, echoes that sentiment, having interacted with hundreds of young people during his three years at the centre.
Beharry has helped them find job opportunities while building relationships along the way. He said volunteers have told him that they’ve found jobs because of him.
“Because of the direction I gave them, it kept them grounded towards a more positive path and stopped them from any negative influence,” Beharry said.
Beharry said the main goal of Storefront has always been to provide a better life for young people to look forward to.
“We try to bridge the youth and connect the youth to any program that can better their life,” he said.