New Rexdale Hub connects community, gives opportunity

Alex Kozuszko

PHOTO BY ALEX KOZUSZKO
What was once Father Henry Carr Middle School is now home to 11 agencies that offer a wide range of social services to the entire Rexdale community. Its creation resulted from a United Way report on priority districts.

News Reporter

The Rexdale Community Hub not only provides help to local residents but offers a wealth of volunteer and employment opportunities for Humber students.

“There are 11 agencies in the building right now,” said Sandra Dattilo, Hub employee, “and they offer a wide variety of services.”
The push to create the hub originated with a 2004 United Way of Greater Toronto report, ‘Poverty by Postal Code,’ that identified North Etobicoke as one of Toronto’s high poverty, low-income communities.

An initiative soon followed to have a social services hub constructed in eight of the 13 communities named in the report with the hope of addressing issues  like unemployment and crime.

Rexdale is the latest to see construction completed, in this case last year at the site of the former Father Henry Carr Middle School.

Albion Neighborhood Services, Rexdale Employment Services, Delta Family Resource Centre and the Micro Skills Protech Media Centre are just a few of such agencies that have found a home in the hub.

The former junior high school now sees community members of all ages entering its doors.
For Humber students interested in social work, the hub affords plentiful opportunity.

“We’ve been popular with Humber, Seneca, and even York University,” said Dattilo. “The agencies are always looking for employees, and they are fully aware of students needs and cooperate with that.”

Dattilo made it clear that nobody is turned away, whether from use of the services or from finding work placement for education.

A grand opening for the hub featuring its full capacity of agencies is planned for February 2013.
Lekan Olawoye, executive director of For Youth Initiative, is not entirely convinced of the social prosperity the hub is supposed to bring to the Rexdale community.

FYI is a Toronto based group that aims at deterring the young from  choosing a life of crime.

“There’s been no change,” said Olawoye, who visited the hub in early September. “We still have the same issues.”

Olawoye grew up in Jamestown after his family emigrated from Nigeria. He has witnessed firsthand a community that has struggled to subdue street crime, particularly gun violence.

Olawoye said he is looking to plan events in the near future. A speaking series featuring the likes of former mayors, police chiefs and business leaders is one such example. This is an approach he believes that will not only create awareness but improve the “capacity” of the community.

Erwin Usi is a first-year graphic design student at Humber College who thinks the hub’s construction will prove a benefit for the community.

“Group activities like sports and learning programs will help make a difference” Usi said. The hub’s upcoming grand opening could be that type of event.

“It should be great,” Datillo said. “We’re fully prepared to invite everybody and anybody in Rexdale.” The hub is located at 21 Panorama Court, one block north of the Kipling Ave. and Finch Ave. West intersection.

For more information about the hub and the variety of events available, contact (416) 741-3000.

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