The Redwood

The Redwood exists to support women and their children to live free from domestic abuse by providing safe, accessible services that will help them reach their goals. We operate within an anti-racist anti-oppressive framework and are committed to social change through education and action.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Back in 1987, a group of neighbours were united by the same cause: the pressing need for a safe haven in the Parkdale-High Park community for women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

In 1991, they secured a rundown former warehouse, and set about the enormous task of transforming the building into a welcoming new home. Just like an old-fashioned barn-raising, hundreds of volunteers from across the city grabbed their tools and came together. Building materials were donated, and carpenters, plumbers and electricians generously volunteered their services. People from all walks of life joined in to help any way they could.

It was an uphill struggle – but incredible determination and a can-do attitude earned The Redwood the nickname The Little Shelter That Could. And thanks to the incredible effort of a community, The Redwood opened its doors to welcome its first family on December 6, 1993.

More than 15 years later, this little shelter has had a big impact. The Redwood has provided crucial emotional, social and practical support – from a secure home, to counselling, to legal support – to help thousands of families get their lives back on track after escaping violence.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • Our 24-hour Crisis Line offers help in 170 different languages.
  • The Redwood was the first shelter in Toronto to become fully wheel-chair accessible to women and children with disabilities.
  • We operate in an anti-racism, anti-oppression framework – that means we strive to give every woman who turns to us culturally sensitive support, and work with her to overcome the systemic barriers she faces as she makes her journey toward a new life, free from violence.
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  • In May 2014, The Redwood had the oppportunity to share the success of Women on the Move at All Our Sisters National Conference.The session was received with a resounding acknowledgement of the need to run similar Women on the Move programs in partner agencies.
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  • In 2010, The Redwood won a DiverseCity Diversity in Governance Award, honouring nonprofit organizations and public agencies, boards and commissions, which have made tangible steps to promote diversity at their highest levels.
  • In 2009, The Redwood received the Philanthropy Award for Outstanding Small Organization for Excellence in Fundraising from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Toronto Chapter – an honour recognizing steadfast dedication to ethical fundraising, and transformational leadership in encouraging the spirit of giving.

Our Programs How We Do It

The Redwood gives women and children a lifeline out of abuse in 170 different languages. At The Redwood, families get the emotional, practical and social support they need to get their lives back on track, and find the promise of a better future. We provide:        

Safe Haven

When women and their children arrive at The Redwood, their needs are urgent and immediate:  protection, and physical and emotional support.  We offer women and children a safe place to stay, nutritious meals, and the basics they need – like clothing, diapers or school supplies – to start over.

We work with each family to develop a personalized plan that begins with a risk and needs assessment, and continues with one-on-one counselling, therapeutic and educational support groups, and recreational activities.

Connection and support

One of the most painful symptoms of abuse is a feeling of isolation and loneliness.  That’s why The Redwood is a place of connection.  At The Redwood, women and their children find a caring and nurturing place where they can meet other families just like them.  And through the sharing of experience, a sense of acceptance and self-worth grows.

Our services include art, music and play therapy groups for children and toddlers, peer support groups for youth and teens, and counselling support.

A Springboard Back into the Community

The Redwood works to get women and their children safely re-established back into the community. We provide assistance in many different ways – all designed to build confidence and self-reliance.

We help with career development, school upgrading, finding affordable housing, and setting up a new home.

Crisis Line and Emergency Shelter

When a woman calls The Redwood’s Crisis Line, there’s a chance her life could be in serious danger. When we receive a call, a highly trained Crisis Counsellor does an emergency assessment to determine if a woman and her family are in immediate danger. If their lives are at risk, we dispatch the police – otherwise, we can get a cab over to the family to bring them to safety within the hour.

Once women and their children first arrive at The Redwood’s 33-bed emergency shelter, their needs are urgent and immediate: protection, and physical and emotional support.

The safety of the families we work with is our top priority - our shelter location is confidential, and our building is highly secure, so women and children can finally rest assured that they are safely out of reach of their abuser.

Many of the families who come to The Redwood share similar feelings of fear and confusion – and yet, every woman and child we work with is different. Donors like you enable us to work closely with each resident from the first moment they arrive, gently uncovering their individual needs, and developing a customized program of counselling and care.

Funding and Program Partners

The Redwood’s services are supported by financial donations from generous community members. Our operations are funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, and we are a member agency of United Way Toronto.

Program Impact

Over 140 women and children found safe haven at The Redwood’s emergency shelter over the course of the past year – these families may have had nowhere to turn without the help of people like you.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“In 2008, use of emergency shelters rose almost 30% in Toronto.”

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)

Participant Vignette

"I believed what he said - that I was nothing." Deanna lived in a violent marriage for almost a decade, and years of abuse had left her with no self-esteem.

Finally, on New Year's Eve, Deanna left home for good. She desperately wanted a better life for her two young children.

Deanna remembers being very afraid and nervous that day. When her husband left for work, she made some calls, and found out there was space available at The Redwood.

Deanna and her children celebrated New Year's at The Redwood that very same evening. She remembers feeling like she was truly starting a new life. "At that moment, I felt that me and my kids were free."

However, her journey was anything but easy. She cried constantly for almost two weeks upon her arrival.

But thanks to community members like you, Deanna was able to rebuild her self-confidence, and regain control of her life. With the support of our donors, The Redwood helped Deanna secure subsidized daycare for her children, find an affordable new home, and launch a rewarding career at one of Canada's top banks, where she recently received an employee award in recognition of her outstanding contributions.

Deanna continues to hold a special place in her heart for The Redwood and its supporters: "I am so proud that we came from The Redwood and I always consider them as part of my family. When you hear about domestic abuse and violence, I am the face. Thanks to you, I can now hold my head high."

Child and Youth Program

Over 70% of The Redwood’s shelter residents are children, and most are under the age of 8. Many of these children have witnessed horrifying scenes of violence, and many have suffered abuse themselves.

Many of the children at The Redwood are too young to have words to describe the pain and confusion they feel after fleeing an abusive home. We work with children using art and play therapy, so they can tell their own story - with the support and guidance of a team of caring staff and volunteers - using paints, crayons, collages and crafts.

The stress of starting a new school and leaving old friends behind can mean their academic performance suffers. You can help us provide children who need additional support with the daily one-on-one attention of a volunteer tutor – and with your support, children who are struggling with their studies have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

With the help of donors like you, The Redwood has introduced The Positive Discipline in Every Day Parenting model to further enhance the Redwood’s supportive parenting environment. The primary theme of the Positive Discipline training is how parents can provide warmth and structure in their relationships with their children.

Funding and Program Partners

The Redwood’s services are supported by financial donations from generous community members. Our operations are funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, and we are a member agency of United Way Toronto.

Program Impact

The Child and Youth Program helps kids rebuild their sense of self worth, and achieve the skills, independence and security they need to break the cycle of violence.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“Only 5% of kids in the city’s neighbourhoods with the highest numbers of 6-12 year olds have after-school programs to go to.”

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)

Outreach and Leadership

The Redwood gives women and children a lifeline out of an abusive home. Our Outreach team travels around the city to meet with women right in their own neighbourhoods, and provide them with practical information about the steps they can take to keep their families safe.

We have been working hard to foster relationships with local high schools. These relationships offer us the opportunity to interact with youth and encourage them to reflect on violence against women, to develop safety plans and understand healthy relationships.

The Outreach program works in tandem with The Redwood’s Women on the Move Leadership Development Program, which works with newcomer women who are abuse survivors to become community leaders, and contribute their unique talents, while helping other women and their communities to address violence against women.

Participants in the Women on the Move program receive training in public speaking, group facilitation, and other leadership skills. They use those skills to deliver workshops where they courageously share their own personal stories to help other women living with abuse, and ultimately, help create healthier and safer communities.

We have also developed a Women on the Move Youth Leadership program. We work with young women to help them develop confidence, leadership skills and self-esteem while helping address violence against women. As part of the program, participants will take part in a series of Digital Storytelling workshops where they will learn to film, edit and narrate their own short digital video to share their stories and thoughts about violence, in their own words.

The Redwood's Women on the Move Youth Leadership program will reach young women while they are still in school, and help them recognize the danger signs of abuse before they escalate. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to abuse, and early signs of violence can be very subtle, and hard for a young woman to identify.

This program provides structured training for young women to learn and develop leadership skills. Increasing confidence and developing leadership capacity in young women gives them the opportunity to speak at public gatherings and events and to co-facilitate public education.

Funding and Program Partners

The Redwood's services are supported by financial donations from generous community members. Our operations are funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, and we are a member agency of United Way Toronto. Women on the Move was originally funded by Status of Women Canada, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. We receive additional funding from generous donors of The Redwood.

Program Impact

Last year, with supporters like you behind us, our Outreach Team was able to reach over 920 women to provide practical information about how to break free from domestic abuse, and safely escape to a shelter.

A total of 43 women and 13 youth have graduated from The Redwood's Women on the Move programs, and are acting as community leaders on the issue of violence against women.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“47% of Torontonians are visible minorities, yet fill just 13% of the GTA’s leadership roles.”

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)

Participant Vignette

I feel like I have overcome a milestone in my life...

Margaret is a shining example of how generous supporters help to transform lives. The Women on the Move (WOTM) Leadership and Development program gives women the opportunity to make life-changing differences in their lives.

For as long as I can remember, my father beat me. He was unpredictable especially after he had been drinking. The atmosphere in our house was charged with fear. I was constantly afraid.

I pretended to have a normal life. But, it was hard because I had to go to school with bruises on my face and on my back. Other kids avoided me. I had no one to talk to – my mother was not able to be there for me. I couldn’t get into a groove at school because I could never escape the pain I always felt.

One day, at the age of thirteen, I asked the principal to call Children’s Aid Society for me. I never returned to the house where my father lived. For the next five years, I was bounced from foster home to foster home. I wasn’t able to finish school. I developed a learning disability – I have trouble processing information.

I’m 43 years old now. I have two children and a wonderful partner. I still feel really emotional when I talk about the past. I’m trying to repair the pain in my heart I have from my early years. This is where The Redwood has really helped me.

Joining the Women on the Move Leadership and Development program at The Redwood changed my life!

I want you to know I felt solace every time I attended a workshop. I enjoyed building relationships with other women. Our stories of violence are different but in some ways they are the same. Learning how to deliver presentations really helped me to be more confident when sharing my personal experiences with the women at Oasis Dufferin Community Centre.

 And, I feel like I have been energized and I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. I’m going back to school!”

Margaret is determined to use her new skills to help her return to school. She wants to become a Disability Service Worker so she can help other people with special learning needs.

Thanks to wonderful people like you, Margaret is building a new life and is becoming an advocate on behalf of other women – a leader in our community!

What You Can Do

Crisis Line and Emergency Shelter

Activities a donation will support

Your generous support will give safe haven to women and children fleeing abuse, and help provide:

  • A 24 Hour Crisis Line, providing a lifeline out of abuse in over 170 languages.
  • A safe place to stay, nutritious meals, and the basics women and children need – like clothing, diapers or school supplies – to get their lives back on track.
  • An individual program of counselling and care, customized for each woman and child who turns to The Redwood for safe haven from abuse.

Donation impact

When a woman calls The Redwood’s Crisis Line, there’s a chance her life could be in serious danger. On average, 40 women are murdered by an intimate partner in Ontario each year – that means that a woman dies at the hand of her abuser almost every week.

Your support of The Redwood will save lives. You can ensure that we have the resources in place to make a safety assessment in seconds, and intervene in what is often a life-threatening situation.

And once a family arrives at our Emergency Shelter, your support will enable us to work closely with each woman and child to gently uncover their individual needs, and develop a customized program of counselling and care.

Child and Youth Program

Activities a donation will support

Your investment in The Redwood’s Child and Youth Program will give children who have experienced domestic abuse the opportunity for a brighter future by providing:

  • On-going therapeutic sessions with children and youth using art and play therapy, so children can describe the pain and confusion they feel after fleeing an abusive home.
  • A volunteer staffed Tutoring Program, which provides one-on-one support with homework, research, and school projects.
  • Our Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting program is important for healing the history of violence. Children are especially fragile. How can moms help their children heal from the angry words they have heard and the hurt they hold inside? With this program, mothers are learning concrete ways to help their children feel a sense of belonging again. They are helping their children gain decision making skills, cooperation and respect for others.

Donation impact

Children exposed to abuse frequently experience serious emotional and behavioural problems at rates 10 to 17 times higher than children from non-violent homes, and have a greater risk of growing up to become abusers themselves.

Your support will help children at The Redwood rebuild their self-esteem, and achieve the skills, independence and security they need to break the cycle of violence.

Outreach and Leadership

Activities a donation will support

Your generous support will help give women and children a lifeline out of domestic violence by:

  • Reaching women and children still trapped in an abusive home through outreach visits and educational workshops at local schools, libraries, housing co-ops, churches, mosques and other community gathering places.
  • Implementing a Safety Risk Assessment program to support woman to break free from her abuser and safely escape to a shelter with her children.
  • Training Women on the Move participants to co-facilitate workshops where they  share their own personal stories to help give hope to other women living with abuse, and inspire them to take a leap of faith. 

Donation impact

For every woman and child who finds safe haven at our emergency shelter, thousands more are still trapped in an abusive home.

Your generous support will give women and children a lifeline out of abuse by providing the resources and support they need to take the first – and most difficult – steps to leave their abuser.

Your help will also offer newcomer women who are abuse survivors the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, and use their unique talents to help other women and their communities to address violence against women.

Contact

Wendy Bray
Fundraising Manager, Interim
416.533.9372 x227
Charitable Number: 891728867RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 2,120,698

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