The Good Neighbours' Club
Our Impact Why We Exist
Our mission is to provide essential supports to the forgotten men in our society, aged 50 and over, who face homelessness and isolation in Toronto. We provide these supports in a manner that respects and promotes the dignity of those we serve.
A society where elderly people have adequate housing and the community supports necessary for a dignified life.
Our Story What We Do
The Good Neighbours' Club was created in 1933, during the Great Depression, as a way to provide basic assistance to older men, many of whom were WWI veterans who were unable to compete with younger men for scarce jobs.
May Birchard, who established a similar club in Winnipeg, brought the military, police, and City of Toronto together to start the club.
The Club worked out of several different facilities before it moved into a City-owned building at 170 Jarvis Street in downtown Toronto in 1967. The Club is mandated by the City of Toronto, and the local City Councillor is automatically appointed to its Board of Directors.
Accolades and Accomplishments:
The Good Neighbours' Club:
- is the only Toronto agency that serves homeless or marginalized senior men, aged 50 and over;
- is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year;
- provides three hot meals a day, donated clothing, and laundry and shower facilities;
- has recently expanded to provide medical, housing, recreation, and more counselling, outreach and other services;
- During 2013, we had 113,488 members' visits to the Club, served 45,413 hot meals, delivered 3,124 Meals on Wheels, and provided 13,860 social work interventions, referrals, and support, including counselling, housing, medical, outreach, and other support services including haircutting, life skills and recreational activities.
Dr. Bruno Scorsone, the Club's Executive Director, recently received a City Builder's award from Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam for expanding the club from a basic soup kitchen to a multi-service agency.
Our Programs How We Do It
The Good Neighbours' Club, founded in 1933, is a safe welcoming drop-in centre for homeless men aged 50 and over. We have recently developed many partnerships to grow the agency from a soup kitchen to a multi-service agency.
- Daily Dining
- Health and Wellness
- Community Support
The Good Neighbours' Club offers a full hot breakfast at 8:15am, as our members are leaving their overnight emergency shelters, a full hot lunch at 12:15pm, and a hot "snack" at 3:00pm.
Our meals are served cafeteria style, and always include salad, soup, and fruit. Menus vary depending on the availability of donated food, but we are known for the quality of food that we serve.
Staff and volunteers serve meals on holidays and we provide barbeques during the summer.
Howard eats with us almost every day of the week, which is great since he does not cook and now should not be left alone with a hot stove.
"I like the food here", he says. "It tastes good."
Howard not only eats, but volunteers at the Club, performing many helpful tasks. It provides him with a place that not only supports him daily, but allows him to feel that he is part of an important community serving men his own age and older.
Toronto's Vital Signs Report
"The poor still pay more for food in Ontario: Low income households are spending a proportionately higher percentage of their total income, buying food with lower nutritional content (more cured meat and canned vegetables, for example) and have less access to healthy food choices."
(Toronto's Vital Signs, 2011)
Health and Wellness:
The Good Neighbours' Club partners with other non-profit agencies and volunteer professionals to bring front-line medical and social services to older homeless and marginalized men in downtown Toronto. Our Health and Wellness Centre allows us to provide private appointments for medical, housing, and counselling services for more of our members.
Ray found a home through the persistent efforts of our social workers in conjunction with a housing worker from Central Neighbourhood House who works onsite with our members. Ray had been on the street for two years, sleeping at City Hall in the winter and down by the waterfront in the summer. His health had deteriorated rapidly, and substance abuse was his only comfort.
Now ray has his own modest apartment. "I thought I was going to die living on the street," he says, "either I'd freeze to death, or someone would kill me to take my pack. I couldn't find a home nowhere, no matter how many places I looked. But the housing worker and The Good Neighbours' Club found me a home, and now I sleep inside every night without a care in the world."
Toronto's Vital Signs® Report
"Toronto's aging population puts pressure on the health-care system:
- Only 8.7% of the population aged 75 or over (180,470 in 2009) have access to long-term care. That's a 10% decline from 2005, as the supply of beds lags behind the growth in the elderly population."
(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2011)
The Community Support Program of The Good Neighbours' Club is designed to reach out to older, marginalized men who are not able to access our centre. Many of the men have physcial or mental disabilities that make it impossible for them to venture out of their living arrangements for medical and other appointments. We are providing blend of professional and volunteer support by teaming selected volunteers with members of our social work team for home visits.
"I don't know what I would have done. I probably would be a goner."
Thomas, an insulin-dependent diabetic, was a regular at The Good Neighbours' Club, dropping in nearly every day. When he didn't show up for a week during a summer heat wave, our staff visited him. They found him in squalid conditions, suffering from heat stroke, in a tiny room with the windows painted shut. He was badly dehydrated, and our staff called the paramedics.
While Thomas was in the hospital recovering, we convinced a neighbourhood merchant to install a portable air conditioner in his room. When Thomas was released from the hospital, our staff continued to make frequent visits to ensure he was alright.
Toronto's Vital Signs Report:
"Across Ontario, the population of 75-year-olds and older will triple by 2021, placing enormous demands on long-term care facilities and programs."
(Toronto's Vital Signs, 2013)
City of Toronto, Toronto Central Local Health Integrated Network, United Way, Daily Bread, Second Harvest, The Rotary Club of Toronto, Street Health, Community Outreach Programs in Addictions, Central Neighbourhood House
What You Can Do
What you can do:
-Volunteer to help with meal preparation, serving and clean-up
-Offer so sponsor special meals, such as Teresa Pantalone-Colonna`s ``Sam`s Dinner``
-Donate funding to enhance the members` daily and special event meals
Support of our Daily Dining program will enable us to supplement our meal program with important staples such as fruit, vegetables and protein.
Health and Wellness
What you can do:
-Volunteer to help with medical work if you have medical or other health and wellness skills
-Offer to give men`s haircuts if you have barbering skills
-Donate funding to continue our recreational activities
Professional volunteers will allow us to offer our health and wellness services more frequently and effectively.
What you can do:
-Volunteer to participate in community outreach by visiting socially isolated members at home
-Donate funding to continue our housing services
The provision of additional volunteers and funding will greatly increase the number of men in the community who can access our many services.