St. Stephen's Community House
Our Impact Why We Exist
St. Stephen's works with individuals and communities primarily in downtown Toronto to identify, prevent and alleviate social and economic problems by creating and provding a range of effective and innovative programs.
St. Stephen's envisions an inclusive community in which harmony, empowerment and opportunity create social and economic justice and a better quality of life for all.
Our motto is: Creating Opportunities. Strengthening Communities.
Our Story What We Do
St. Stephen's Community House was started by the Anglican Diocese in 1962. During the early years, St. Stephen's was a settlement house providing community services, primarily to youth. In 1964, the programs at the House were diversified with English classes being offered to new immigrants, along with counselling, job placement services, and skills training workshops for youth. The House continued to operate in this capacity for ten years.
On May 24, 1974, St. Stephen's Community House became an independent, incorporated not-for-profit charitable organization, and a United Way member agency.
Throughout the next twenty years, we started our Conflict Resolution and HIV awareness programs, and opened our Senior's Activity Centre, Employment & Training Centre, and Youth Arcade.
Today, we operate nine different locations, including the Augusta Centre, which houses our Corner Drop-in for people who are homeless or marginally houses, Youth Arcade, language training and L.L. Odette Place supportive housing; four licensed child care centres in downtown Toronto, as well as Community Mediation and English classes in North York.
Accolades and Accomplishments
St. Stephen's Community House has continually offered unique and ground-breaking programs for more than 50 years. Here are a few:
Conflict Resolution & Training
Since 1985, our volunteer-driven Conflict Resolution & Training program has been in great demand across the Greater Toronto Area, offering free community mediation to family, friends, neighbours and co-workers.
Culturally-Specific AIDS Education Services
Geard to Portuguese and Chinese-speaking immigrants in our community, some of our HIV and AIDS awareness prevention services include workshops, brochures, games and our specially-develloped Fotonovela.
TCAT, The Toronto Community Addictions Team
TCAT provides citywide mobile intensive case management to people who have frequent re-admissions to Withdrawal Management or Emergency Room services.
Designed to help newcomers to Canada who are on social assistance, Connections is an employment program that provides free computer, customer service and business communication training, plus a six-week co-op work placement.
Little Black Books
Written by youth for youth, our Little Black Book series focuses on important youth issues such as sexuality and bi-racial identity. Our first, the "Little Black Book for Girlz", was published in five languages across Canada, the USA and six European countries, and has won awards from the New York City Library and the American Library Association.
Our Programs How We Do It
Driven by our volunteers, donors, United Way, and other funders, St. Stephen's Community House improves the lives of some of the city's most vulnerable people. We help:
- homeless and marginally-housed men and women break the cycle of poverty
- unemployed people find and keep jobs
- at-risk youth safely transition to adulthood
- isolated seniors maintain their physical, mental and emotional health
- struggling newcomers adjust to life in Canada
Our programs help people with their immediate needs and provide long-term solutions that improve people’s quality of life, not only for themselves, but for their family and community around them.
Here are a few details about two of our programs:
Recognized as a best practice model for youth spaces by the city, our youth services offer safe and positive meeting places for more than 1,539 neighbourhood youth, ages 13–21, many of whom are at-risk. They socialize, attend workshops, develop leadership and conflict resolution skills, and participate in alternative sports and recreation activities like our new music club. We also offer educational support, community service for young offenders, and our annual career mentoring conference. In the spring of 2016, we started a restorative justice mediation peer program for youth, focusing on local schools.
Program spotlight – Youth Peer Leadership Program:
We promote youth development and foster educational achievement and civic participation.
Our Youth Peer Leadership Program includes:
- Outdoor adventure based team-building and leadership training
- Peer leader employment opportunities to organize activities and special projects for younger teens
- Individual counselling and support with preparing resumes and applications for summer jobs, colleges and scholarships
- Hands-on training certificate courses (food handler, conflict resolution, first aid/CPR, CPI non-violent crisis intervention)
Thanks to the program, young men and women:
- Receive transformational first paying job experience and job references
- Develop employability skills (communication, preparing resumes, team work, understanding employer/ employee expectations etc.)
- Develop job-specific skills (food handler, first aid/CPR etc.)
- Learn about giving back, mentoring and inspiring younger peers
- Boost their self-confidence, start dreaming big and planning their career
- Find and maintain external jobs and pursue education after high school
“I tried to help my friends cope but couldn’t stop the cause. As a peer researcher in the the Cyber Self-Defense Project, I can help so many more people.” - April
"I definitely got opportunities here that I would not have got anywhere else - facilitating workshops and the G-Spot young men’s group, working as a peer leader and writing proposals.” – Chiloh
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“In 2014, youth unemployment was almost 22% in Toronto, and young people were the fastest growing homeless segment in Canada.” (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2015)
“An essential element in crime prevention is reducing risk factors such as association with peers who negatively influence.” (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2014)
At 18 years old, Zuberi Attard first walked through the doors of our Youth Arcade. He thought the only thing he had to gain was a job and a little extra money. But working as a member of the Drug Education Peer Project proved to be so much more: It paved the way for his future.
As a Peer Educator, Zuberi recounted his personal challenges with substance use and his recovery to help other young people in the program. He used his experience with poverty, trauma, racism and stigma to connect the dots. It also reinforced his ability to go beyond his own history of drug use and help him move ahead.
Zuberi’s role as Peer Educator sparked his passion for social issues and brought out his natural talent as a facilitator. “This was the first job that inspired me. It gave me direction. I’ll never forget what it did for me.”
His time at St. Stephen’s and activism in his community has not gone unnoticed: Zuberi won the 2014 Lincoln M. Alexander Award for community service and was honoured with Plan Canada’s 20 Under 20TM Award.
Today, Zuberi is studying Politics at Carleton University. “When I was applying, staff were with me every step of the way. They helped me with my applications and because of that, I received three scholarships. Being part of St. Stephen’s was one of the best parts of my life!”
Housing and Homeless Services
We provide life-saving services for more than 3,225 people each year who are homeless or marginally-housed. It starts at our Corner Drop-in where we welcome up to 250 people daily for nutritious hot meals, and access to telephones, computers, showers and a mail registry. Assistance is provided for issues with affordable housing and eviction prevention, addiction and crisis counselling, primary health care, mental health case management and financial trusteeship. Our HIV/AIDS outreach provided information and support to more than 7,300 people. We also operate L.L. Odette Place supportive housing for 13 previously homeless men with mental health issues, and run the Toronto Community Addiction Team (TCAT), which helps people with serious addictions.
Program Spotlight - Corner Drop-in Employment Program
The Corner Drop-in Employment Program helps people improve their employability by developing, enhancing and supporting their essential skills to secure employment, volunteer, or pursue further training and education. Using a client-centred approach, we work with people to identify and meet their employment goals.
Our Corner Drop-in Employment Program includes:
- Pre-employment training, including computer literacy, resume preparation and practice interviews
- Workshops on Transferrable Skills and Marketing Yourself, Interview and Resume Skills
- Job Club, where participants get information and counselling with their job search challenges
- Job matching with participating employers
- Pre and post hiring support
Thanks to the program, homeless and marginally-housed men and women:
- Earn a steady source of income
- Boost their self-confidence and independence
- Reintegrate into the community
- Improve communication skills
- Learn new technological and vocational skills
“I found paid work in a supportive housing service. Getting people to open up and get the services they need. It’s a chance for me to give something back while doing something I know I can do.” – John
“I credit St. Stephen’s, its caring staff and supportive programs for helping me get my life back on track, and for giving me hope and confidence in myself again.” - Ross
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
“Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy emphasizes employment and income security by focusing on support systems—employment opportunities, income supports, and education—for those who are homeless or at high risk of becoming so, including people with addictions.” (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2015)
Grappling with his addiction, Wayne was referred to the Toronto Community Addiction Team. “Their caring staff and support helped me get my life back on track. They restored my hope and confidence. Because of them, I was ready to move on.” That’s where the Corner Drop-in Employment Program came in.
The Program starts by helping people enhance their essential skills to secure employment, volunteer positions or further training/education. People benefit from the program’s employment counselling, employer job matching and pre and post-hiring support, just like Wayne.
Initially hired by a snow removal business in Kensington Market, Wayne’s employer quickly saw his dedication and pride in his work. He referred Wayne to the Kensington Market Business Improvement Area (BIA). “Now I manage the Kensington Market Clean Up team from Spring through Fall. I liaise for the BIA, report the team’s attendance, order supplies and moderate minor worker’s disputes. The BIA was thrilled and asked me to head their winter snow removal program.”
“Thanks to St. Stephen’s, I’ve proven myself to be a valuable asset to the BIA, and more importantly, to myself.”
What You Can Do
Youth Peer Leadership Program
Examples of activities a donation will support:
- $75 provides a disadvantaged youth one week of employment as a peer leader in our drop-in’s afterschool healthy recreation activity.
- $22,480 allows 20 youth the opportunity to be peer leaders and gain invaluable pre–work experience during the school year.
This program improves the lives of youth by empowering them and building resiliency, improving engagement in school and community, encouraging healthy lifestyles, fostering creativity, making positive choices to stay safe in their transition into adulthood, and helping them grow into leaders that guide other youth in the community. In part thanks to our program and partnerships, our local public housing project has one of the highest rate of youth going to college or university and the highest rate of winning scholarships of any social housing community in Toronto.
Corner Drop-in Employment Program
Examples of activities a donation will support:
- $1550 gives one homeless or marginally-housed person employability training and helps them find a job or further their education.
This program helps people from our Corner Drop-in get back on their feet by improving their employment readiness and assisting in their job search. Since its inception in 2014, over 130 people have improved their quality of life by finding work, furthering their education, volunteering and improving their employability skills.