REALTORS Care® Week Spotlight: CREA’s Board of Directors Provide Essentials and Comfort to Vulnerable Groups in Downtown Toronto

Members of the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA) Board of Directors, Environmental, Social and Governance Committee and leadership from the Ontario REALTORS Care® Foundation came together during REALTORS® Care Week 2022 to volunteer at Toronto’s Dixon Hall.

On November 17, the group, led by Chris Jarvis, Co-founder, and Chief Strategy Officer of Realized Worth, provided care and support for both unhoused individuals and homebound senior citizens.

“We’re doing some transformative learning around volunteering. What that means is we’re all in character, imagining what it would be like to be here for the first time. This is a great opportunity to learn about our neighbours and ourselves,” explained Jarvis.

Dixon Hall is a multi-service agency serving at-risk youth, seniors, adults with physical and health disabilities, people who need housing, individuals searching for employment, those with mental health issues, and newly immigrated individuals and their families. Their mission is to create lasting solutions to end poverty, social injustices, and isolation in their community.

“What an honour and a privilege it is to be here (Dixon Hall) for REALTORS Care® Week with all of these volunteers,” said Jill Oudil, CREA’s Chair.

Kickstarting the day, Jarvis led an orientation, where volunteers learned about transformative volunteering and participated in an activity that assigned various roles to each REALTOR® to demonstrate how volunteers of all levels of experience can be engaged to create lasting impacts.

Later, volunteers formed an assembly line and packaged 200 kits filled with hygiene and winter staples that will be delivered to Dixon Hall’s unhoused and shelter-based clients. These kits contained an individualized “message of hope”, handwritten by the volunteers alongside essentials such as deodorant, toothpaste, toques, and gloves.

“I think this led me to look inwards more than outwards,” said CREA Regional Director for Manitoba, Michael Barrett. “We don’t think twice about not being able to access personal hygiene products and mitts and a toque.”

While participants were packing the kits, they heard from many Dixon Hall staff members, who educated volunteers on their clients, the spectrum of housing they live in, and the challenges of breaking the cycle.

“On behalf of the entire team at Dixon Hall, I want to thank the Canadian Real Estate Association and all the volunteers for the immeasurably valuable work that they have done to support one of the most vulnerable sections of our community in the East Downtown Toronto neighbourhood,” said Joyce Affroh, Volunteer Manager at Dixon Hall. “I just want to let all the volunteers know that their dedication is essential to the work that we do. We cannot do it without the support of our community, especially the volunteers, who often go above and beyond in helping us achieve the mission of Dixon Hall.”

Once the kits were packed, volunteers turned their attention to supporting local, homebound seniors. Volunteers boarded Dixon Hall’s bus, ready to deliver hot meals and conduct wellness checks.  These brief engagements shed some light on the harsh realities that some of those in our communities live with day in, day out.

“I did not expect to meet someone who hasn’t had cable, power, or a phone in seven days. I did not expect to meet people who are so dependent on a meal,” said Cliff Stevenson, CREA’s Immediate Past Chair.

As the day came to a close, volunteers were given a moment to reflect on the positive difference they were able to make in the lives of those who depend on Dixon Hall.

“I think REALTORS® give back to their communities all the time, but at this time of year I appreciate REALTORS Care® Week because it gives an opportunity to really, en masse make a difference in the communities that support us,” said James Mabey, CREA’s Vice Chair. “Today’s experience was really impactful because we really got to be involved at the grassroots level, and I think that’s something that we don’t always get a chance to do.”

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