The Massey Centre for Women gives young mothers in need a second chance.
By Shaundra Selvaggi
The Massey Centre sits neatly tucked into the corner of a no-exit street along Broadview Avenue in East York. It is made up of two buildings: one, an antique split-level home turned main office and the other, a large brick building with glass doors and a keypad requiring a code for entry. They are a fitting combination of the centre’s historic roots and modern-day innovations.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Fred Victor Mission, an outreach operation of the Methodist Church for troubled and homeless young men in Toronto, recognized the need for a safe place for unwed mothers with no where to turn. The program was ahead of its time.
Today, Massey Centre is an award-winning institution with programs unlike any other in the nation. “We are the only [women’s centre] of its kind in Canada that has a post-natal program with residence where [women] can stay after they have their babies,” says Intake Social Worker Lorey Younger, who has been with the centre for 23 years.
The centre has a variety of resources available to women before, during, and after birth. The pre-natal residential program provides expectant mothers with lodging, primary health care, around-the-clock counselling, and training for future employment. The centre has a secondary school operated by the Toronto District School Board on-site for those interested in obtaining a high school diploma.
After birth, mothers live in apartments at the centre and attend programs designed to equip them with life skills and emotional and financial stability for life on the outside.
It is important to note that the Massey Centre’s programs aren’t just for those in need of shelter. The centre is also the flagship location for the Toronto-Danforth Early Years Centre. These Early Years Centres provide free programs and services for parents in the local community with children 0-6 years of age and are facilitated by experts in early childhood development. It’s not unusual to see at least one dozen strollers parked outside the building’s entrance on weekday mornings.
For those who are interested in giving their time and support to the amazing people at the centre, there are many available opportunities. The centre gladly accepts donations of new or gently used items for moms and babies at the centre and volunteers are always needed.