Offering a helping hand to people in need

Wychwood Open Door 5
Wychwood Open Door

Elizabeth Sloss, a Hillcrest Village resident and Chair of the Board at Wychwood Open Door, is very passionate about her work on behalf of this charity so it was impossible not to be drawn in when she approached me to become a sponsor.

Wychwood Open Door is a soup kitchen that is run by community volunteers in the basement of St. Matthew’s United Church serving a hot breakfast and lunch three times a week to homeless and marginally housed individuals. David Nath, the Executive Director’s main focus is to build a community for the needy where people can build friendships and foster a sense of belonging in a safe environment. WOD provides healthy food, a clothing bank, personal hygiene products, computer skills training that help with job placement and limited health services.

Wychwood open door volunteers
Wychwood Open Door – volunteers

The individuals who frequent Wychwood Open Door are people who have fallen on hard times. Some are university professors and medical doctors, others with mental health issues or addictions, professionals who have challenges coping with their daily lives, individuals who have suffered abuse, immigrants or locals who have lost their jobs, elderly who cannot afford enough food each week and those looking for work.

There is tremendous good that comes out of this charity least of which is a hot meal and a place to call home even for just a few hours. Elizabeth and her life partner Mark Powell’s enthusiasm and pride in their involvement is evident as they tell me “one of our staunchest volunteers was a drug addict with serious anger control issues who was in and out of jail all the time. A number of years ago he came to WOD and there was a senior volunteer who could see in him something other than the nasty man he had become. With her support and the support of the community at Wychwood, he came off the drugs and is one of the sweetest men around. He volunteers all his time to us and to the out of the cold program.”

Wychwood open door kitchen
Wychwood Open Door – kitchen

Elizabeth continues “once while I volunteering in the kitchen I started to chat with the woman across the counter. She divulged that without WOD she didn't know where she would be. She was the only child of immigrant parents. When her mother died she became completely unravelled and although she herself is trained as a nurse, she lost her job and couldn't work. It took her many months to get back on her feet and she came to WOD which became her safe place.” There are so many wonderful feel good stories such as these that come out of this profound community initiative.

The core funding for this charity comes from the City of Toronto but it isn’t adequate to fulfill all the needs. “We run into trouble when we know that our members don’t have enough warm clothes and we have no more money to help them” says Elizabeth.

WOD is hosting their big annual fundraiser on February 22nd at 7pm at Wychwood Barns. It will be a fun filled Trivia night for 400 people. Tickets will cost $25 and you are welcome to bring a group of 10 for a full table. Tickets can be purchased at Ecoexistence, 766 St Clair Ave West.

We need your help to raise enough money to keep the programs going. If you are interested in donating or getting involved please contact Elizabeth at wychwoodopendoor@gmail.com or call 416-652-0857.

Originally printed in the Village Living Magazine in February 2014

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