Weston Treasures: Frontlines

Frontlines: 1844 Weston Road

Tucked between a high-rise building and rows of stores and apartments on Weston Road is a single-storey building that is the current home to a powerhouse that has been in our community for the past quarter century. While the back of the building serves as a food bank (that’s a story for another day), Frontlines (naturally) occupies the storefront entrance at 1844 Weston Road. Frontlines is a child and youth outreach centre, financed primarily through individual donors, along with fundraising and grants from small foundations. It operates six days a week under the leadership of Kristy Grisdale, Denise Gillard and Felix Opoku.

Executive Director Kristy Grisdale

Along with 20 volunteers, the team serves around 200 neighbourhood children through a wide range of after-school activities. In the summer, Frontlines employs local students and young adults to assist with week-long camp experiences as well as a wide variety of daily activities. That’s not all—in a typical month, this small building produces 140 nutritious cooked meals, 130 packed lunches and dozens of healthy snacks for the homework club run in conjunction with the Macaulay Child Development Centre. All of this is done at a cost of $350 per child per year.

Denise Gillard and friends.

Program Manager Denise Gillard says that there is a tremendous need for Frontline’s services and they serve the tip of a very large iceberg. A McMaster graduate, Denise is an ordained Baptist minister who believes that improving lives in the community begins with respect. Fostering of wellness and respect is achieved through building relationships and providing meaningful programs.

Youth Program Coordinator Felix Opoku and friends.

In order to address our community’s growing needs, fundraising is a time consuming but essential activity. For example, student-cooked items can be purchased each Saturday at Weston Farmers’ Market. In April, the annual dinner held at Weston Golf and Country Club raised over $10,000 from 90 paying guests with 17 sponsors generously covering all costs. Another way of fundraising involves individual sponsorships – for example, it costs $350 to sponsor one child’s activities for a year, $315 will send a child to camp for a week, while $2800 will employ a student facilitator for the summer.

Frontlines’ next major fundraisers are:

Community Summer BBQ bash this Saturday, June 18 at Frontlines. Time: 11 a.m. To 6 p.m. Featuring BBQ favourites, baked goods, vendors and entertainers as well as TC3 – the Toronto Children’s Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company. No ticket required.

BIG breakfast on Saturday, June 25th at Frontlines. Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $12.00 and attendees can enjoy a delicious meal while finding out more about Frontlines and meeting staff and volunteers. If you would like to attend, please RSVP at 416-244-7017.

Big plans for Weston to be released later this month

The Weston 2021 Design Initiative is convening again to discuss the results of the  bean counters’  “Technical Assistance Panel”. The City, Metrolinx, and the Urban Land Institute will be releasing the results of their consultations and making further plans at the community update.

A design conference in May brought planners together with the community to make grand plans for the revitilization of Weston. Those plans were then taken to the the Technical Assistance Panel to be assessed for financial viability.

Everyone is welcome at the community update meeting. It will be held Wednesday, June 29 at 6 pm, at St John the Evangelist.

 

Wednesday, June 29th

 

TAVIS Barbecue Tonight, June 16, 2011.

There will be a barbecue tonight from 5 – 7 pm hosted by 12 Division TAVIS initiative officers and Councillor Frances Nunziata. This is to let the community know that an additional 32 police officers have been made available during the summer for street patrol in the Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue area. Check out the PDF version of the poster here.

Farmers’ Market open, awesome

The Farmers’ Market got off to a great start this year. Hundreds of people turned out to support our local growers and retailers—and to get fed.

Indian Elvis put in an appearance, as he usually does, and the lineup for Ken’s bacon sandwiches (which your correspondent takes as an index of the buyers’ mood) was very long—surely foretelling a wonderful year ahead.

Indian Elvis, Weston Farmers' Market

Huge turnout for Queens Drive sale

The weather gods blessed the annual garage sale on Queens Drive, and it was a roaring success this year. Thousands of people turned out and packed the sunny streets.

Your humble correspondent scored many sweet deals, the sweetest of which was certainly a gorgeous golf bag from back when stuff was still made in the USA. $5!

Design conference feedback released

A conference planning the future of Weston was held last month, and the report summarizing community feedback has now been released. It discusses 10 messages from the community, none of will surprise residents, but any of which, if acted upon, would make Weston a better place to live.

In short, the recommendations were:

  • Weston Road could be nicer if it had better design and more varied retail
  • The tracks and Lawrence are physical barriers that separate us
  • Weston is a culturally and economically diverse village, with few ties between communities
  • Don’t touch the Farmers’ Market, but make the surrounding area better; make the GO Station area better, too
  • Convince developers to pay for everything—don’t make taxpayers
  • Tall buildings are generally undesirable; rental high rises are especially undesirable
  • Community arts and spaces are good. A movie theatre would be good too.
  • Weston is not an intersection. It is a village with history.
  • The schools could use some help—especially St John, which is crowded and threatened by the train
  • Some parts of Weston feel unsafe

You can download the entire report, which has much more detail, here: Weston Charrette Community Feedback Summary

A proposed redesign of Weston Rd

June Fun Fair a success

Weston Memorial’s June Fair was a huge success. The school and volunteers raised about $6500 for school programming.

According to Cristine Ramos, an organizer, “everyone agreed that they have never seen the school yard so full of people and by everyone’s guesstimations it was the best attended fair in recent history.”

The weather was fantastic this year, and the schoolyard was a total zoo—appropriate, given the theme, “Go Wild”. Hundreds and hundreds of kids caused a wonderful ruckus.

The school raised money through a barbecue, a bake sale, jumpy castles, a raffle, and a silent auction.Many good people and businesses donated money and services to the fair. Jorge Ramos, from Financial IQ Camp Millionaire, deserves to be carried across town on the shoulders of the people for his donation. Sam Valentini and Paula Carrascalao deserve special mention for covering the cost of the bouncy castles. The Ontario Falconry Centre also donated their show.

The money raised at the fair will be used for “school trips and arts and science programs”, according to Ramos.

Thanks to Cristine Ramos for the photos