As the year draws to a close, the Street to Trail Association (“S2T”) looks back on progress associated with major changes to program delivery that the Board and had formulated in 2014. The past three years have been years of transition, as S2T sought to broaden its outreach to Toronto’s most vulnerable in the most cost effective manner possible. The Board decided that, by partnering with other organizations that already work with our community, S2T could focus its activities on delivering the services that we are uniquely qualified to provide. S2T leads hikes and manages camping and canoeing trips with staff and volunteers who understand and relate to the special needs of Toronto’s homeless. These are activities that complement the services provided by drop-ins and shelters, by lunch and health programs and by transitional and subsidized housing.
After a number of false starts, the Board decided to fully re-examine the basis of the program, the services we can deliver, the need for these services in the community, models for delivering these services which offered the chance to reach as many of Toronto’s most vulnerable adults as possible, and financial sustainability. Late last year, we commissioned a report from Kathy Biasi a former S2T Board member who recently upgraded her academic qualifications after many years of running Wychwood Open Door. Kathy’s report confirmed the benefits of S2T’s core activities and the demand in the community for these services. She identified and prioritized key partners who wanted to add S2T outings to their programming. She also recommended the continued provision of “Open” activities, for participants who do not necessarily have a link to a partner organization. Kathy submitted her report in May and I would be happy to send a copy to any interested stakeholder.
We then hired a new Program Manager as of the end of August. Bretton Dabous has joined us initially on a part time basis (50 hours/month) as we work up to a full schedule of activities. Bretton has both first-hand experience working with our clientele – he is part-time at The Loft – as well as academic credentials (Child and Youth Worker Accelerated Diploma (2014) from Humber College, and a B.A. with a Major in Global Development from UWO) and hiking/camping/first aid certificates and experience. Mostly, we loved his attitude. I’m sure you will concur when you meet him.
Bretton has now started working with our two highest priority partners, Sagatay, with which we hiked in mid-October (see photo attached), and Woodgreen Community, whose clients have now gone on two hikes with S2T. Both Woodgreen and Sagatay look to schedule winter hikes. Both organizations shared in the costs of the hikes and, importantly, had trained staff accompany us. Bretton is now moving on to the balance of the list of high priority organizations with which Kathy had discussed partnerships.
The Board and Bretton envisage approximately 25 partnered hikes per year and plan to recommence open hikes in 2018. We should reach an annual rate of at least 30 hikes within a year. We would also arrange outings to Snowshoe Island, possibly overnights, although a full 3-4 day camping and canoeing trip is likely still more than a year away.
Financially, Street to Trail’s resources are very strong with sufficient funds in the bank to manage approximately two years of programming as currently envisaged. We have also done a quick update on equipment held in our storage locker. Most of what we believe we will use over the medium term is on hand. Our liability and D&O insurance, taxes and Revenue Canada filings are all up-to-date.
I would be happy to introduce you to Bretton once he has hit stride with program activities (at our Annual Meeting next Spring). We have not made formal requests for funding to our largest donors this year given our financial health. But I trust S2T will be in a position a year from now with a year of steady programming under our belts and detailed plans for 2019 that our friends would consider reinitiating support. Please contact me if you need any additional information at this stage.
Please visit our website (www.street-to-trail.ca ) which we are revitalizing to see reports and photos of our recent outings. Should you consider a gift to Street to Trail follow the links to the Canada Helps donation site or mail a cheque to us at the address below. If you donate through the United Way, you may designate Street to Trail and direct all or part of your gift this way: this provides flexibility to our friends who wish to donate securities rather than cash. A gift of $50 will fund one voyageur on a hike, while a gift of $250 pays the rental cost for a ten-person van. As the organization returns to full operations, please help us as we bring the healing benefits of Street to Trail to those who desperately need the hope and guidance we provide.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Denny Creighton, Chair
On behalf of the Board of Directors
Street to Trail Association
P.O. Box 745
31 Adelaide Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 2J8
Registered Charitable # 87898 5100 RR0001