Photo: Matthew House.
“My Toronto is your Toronto.”
Matthew House is a non-profit organization that has been providing refugees with shelter and support services for two decades – 2018 is their 20th anniversary – in the Toronto area. Close to 2,000 refugees from 100 different countries have gone through the program which provides assistance such as refugee hearing preparation, settlement and newcomer programs and child and youth services.
“This is not only a place for serving refugees, our volunteers feel connected to the community and participate in this mosaic of diversity,” explains Matthew House Executive Director Karen Francis.
The Scotiabank Charity Challenge is a turnkey fundraising program that provides a simple way for participants to support the charity of their choice and make a significant impact locally. Participating charities keep 100 per cent of the proceeds raised, as Scotiabank pays for all transaction and credit card fees. There are approximately 200 charities who take part in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and approximately $3.5 million is raised annually. Scotiabank is proud to offer this program at their six sponsored marathons across the country, and have raised more than $62 million since the program began in 2003.
This year marks the 12th time Matthew House has participated in fundraising at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. To date, the organization has raised $567,075 making it the largest annual fundraising event for the organization.
In 2017, Matthew House was one of the top fundraising charities in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, raising $106,215. Support of Matthew House is a way for individuals and corporations to get involved with the organization. Often times companies organize their own teams for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and run in support of Matthew House.
This year, Matthew House is increasing its fundraising goal hoping to raise $120,000. “Every year, I realize how special of an event the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is for us. The Scotiabank Charity Challenge, especially over the last two years, has enabled us to grow the services we’ve been able to provide,” Francis says. “We continue to push the limits of what this organization can do.”
Fundraising goes towards expanding Matthew House services, house maintenance and the addition of new Matthew House homes. Currently, Matthew House is a community of four homes in Toronto, including a reception house, which assists up to 80 refugee claimants per year. They also have three long-term transition homes, all designed to foster a family environment.
“That’s intentional,” Francis explains, “because often times refugees have experienced some sort of trauma back home. There’s a sense of belonging and safety in the Matthew House homes.”
Fundraising has allowed for, or opens to the door in the future to, expanded services including, but not limited to:
- Employment programs to help newcomers to Canada transition and connect with potential employers to launch their careers.
- Mental health programs, by bridging the gap to other support organizations and bringing in experts in the field.
- Youth programming to help young people navigate a new country. This includes in-house parental support for unaccompanied minors and assistance with education and school attendance..
- New homes, and upkeep of existing houses
Through these programs, Matthew House introduces refugee claimants to the services they need in order to make their transition to Toronto successful. See Matthewhouse.ca for the full process of a refugee claimant arriving in Canada.
The 2018 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Oct. 21.