History of the Community Relief Fund
The Toronto United Church Council is an historic and unique organization within the life of The United Church of Canada. In 1892, the Methodist Church, influenced by the prodding of many of the leading Methodist business people in Toronto, established the Methodist Social Union to address social problems in the city. In 1912, the "Union" was incorporated and began to hold land, receive donations and bequests, and develop trust funds.
The "Union", now the "Council", oversaw mission and relief work in the city and its suburbs. It founded, owned, and maintained the Victor Home for Women, where unmarried women could have their babies. Similarly, the Council organized and managed the budget and work of the Fred Victor Mission, which has provided food, shelter, and medical care to those in need since 1908. Both have since become independent corporations with continuing Council support for their property and program requirements.
In the depression of the 1930s, a fleet of Council trucks moved about the city collecting clothes, fruit, vegetables, tons of potatoes, and milk from local dairies, to pass on to churches and downtown missions for distribution. Also throughout these years, the Council hired and supervised hospital chaplains to be with people in need of compassion and care. After World War II, the Council owned and operated several "second hand stores" across the city, long before the arrival of Goodwill and Value Village mega stores. And fresh-air camping for youth was in full operation throughout this time.
Today, the Council continues to partner with and support social ministry endeavours of the United Church. Affordable housing projects such as Hillcrest Lodge in Orillia, community ministries like the Malvern Community Outreach Ministry, and social service ministries including the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, are in partnership with Council and are housed in Council owned properties.
Throughout this long history of ministry work, Council's Community Relief Fund has provided a conduit for individuals and congregations to share in the mission of partner agencies, missions, and congregations doing outreach in their local communities. From providing funding for appliances for food banks to bedding for women's shelters, from setting up out-of-the-cold programs to providing venues for a hot meal program, the Fund has been there to help.
Making a Difference
As Council's oldest established fund, the Community Relief Fund continues to play an important role in shaping the ministry of Toronto United Church Council. The Fund's work demonstrates Council's commitment to investing in social ministries that represent a breakthrough in local delivery of services rather than a breakdown. In fact, since 1892, the Community Relief Fund has placed a very high value on investing its financial aid in projects and programs that promise solutions to some of society's big problems.
Recently, much of the Fund's energy has been invested in the work of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre in Regent Park. That organization's 40 Oaks project represents such a huge leap in the level of service it provides to the homeless that Council immediately saw the opportunity it faced in helping to make the project a resounding success. To learn more, visit the TCRC website.
Gifts to the Community Relief Fund
Individuals, congregations and church groups are invited to contribute to the Community Relief Fund to support this work. Gifts to the Fund can be made in three ways.
By mail. Your cheques can be sent to Toronto United Church Council, Unit 24, 30 Wertheim Court, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1B9. Please make cheques payable to Toronto United Church Council and note Community Relief Fund on the subject line.
By phone. You may call to 905-771-5124 or 1-800-235-8822 during business hours to make a credit card donation.
Online. Click here to access the donation form (powered by Canada Helps) and choose Community Relief Fund from the Fund/Designation drop-down menu.
Located in the Heart of Phase 1 of the Regent Park Revitalization, 40 Oaks provides 87 units of affordable housing. A community `hub`on the first two levels create a warm, inviting `community living room`for all residents of Regent Park, helping build their lives and create a vibrant community.