Giving back to our neighbours! #TheOaks

One thing I love about Royal LePage Team Realty is how generous my fellow realtors are. You’ll remember the sock drive I did in December (Sock it to Christmas!) that generated donations of around 1,500 pairs of new socks – most of those were donated by realtors in my office.

Sock it to Christmas got me interested in doing more along similar lines. I reached out to Jeff Turnbull, the doctor who co-founded Inner City Health together with Wendy Muckle. Inner City Health  works closely with the homeless shelters in town and also manages the Safe Injection Site trailer at Good Shepherds on Murray. Through Jeff, I met Wendy, who is the Executive Director of Inner City Health. We chatted on the phone last Friday morning and I asked her what she needed most.

There are a couple of things that are urgent. One is cookies and juice boxes for the Safe Injection Site. Wendy said that they are trying to get the people who come in to stay longer: as I understood her, people who are addicted crave sweets as they start to come down. Wendy said they get $ 50 a week from the city to cover these items, but they are spending $ 300 a week as demand goes up.

I threw out a call on social media and several people said they would stop by with donations. However, my  hope was to find them a reliable, ongoing source of these items. I mentioned the situation  to a realtor in my office, Joanne Batchelor. It turned out she knew someone in the Executive Office at Costco: and thanks to her, Costco is now considering a bulk donation. So,  while it’s not the reliable source we are still hoping to find, it will be a generous donation nonetheless if it comes through and meanwhile we’ll keep looking.

Another item Wendy mentioned to me was bath towels. The shelters are in desperate need of bath towels because without them, the folks there can’t shower. Who knew?

It occurred to me that perhaps we could find an ongoing source of towels by contacting local hotels to see what they do with their discards. If they are only going to end up in landfill, we’d take them!

I reached out to The Westin on Twitter and they were  right on it — they referred the request to their Assistant Director of Housekeeping immediately!  She’s been away this week, but she’ll back on Tuesday and she will see what they have on hand. If that works out, that’s another problem solved!

Wendy and I also talked about what I might be able to do for The Oaks. This is a managed alcohol treatment facility located very close to my own neighbourhood, Westboro, near Merivale and Kirkwood and just a few blocks from my office. It’s run in partnership by Inner City with Good Shepherds.

This particular facility was the subject of a Fifth Estate documentary called The Pour, which is well worth watching. Chronic alcoholics are given managed amounts of alcohol throughout the day there (staff actually make the wine in the premises) and as their conditions begin to stabilize and improve,  other supports are there for them as well. In many cases, after decades of living on the streets, they are able to reconnect with their families. It’s pretty amazing.

Director, Ray Maquette, and he and Elise, their nurse, gave me and three friends of mine   a tour on Thursday. Again, two of them  are fellowrealtors, Angie Zarysky and Rebecca Wilson, the other is a mortgage broker we work with, Cathy Macdonald. We were impressed! They are  doing great work and when we asked what they needed most, Elise said they were in dire need of a hospital bed. Many of the residents are getting older and they really need a hospital bed they can raise and lower as currently, the nursing staff are bending over all the time to examine them.

And it turned out that Rebecca had a hospital bed which she immediately offered to donate – another problem solved!

Ray and Elise  said they really need those raised toilet contraptions and walkers as well, as many as we can find, so when I got back to the office, I got hold of MacLean and Associates. That’s an auction house that does estates sales, located right around the corner from The Oaks. (I do a lot of estate work with Canada Trust and that’s how I met them.) Anyway, they got back to me right away to say that they don’t have any now but when they do, they will not only donate them, they will deliver them!

Anyway, that  was my week. If you can help in any way with the items I’ve mentioned, do let me know, and thanks!



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