Forty Six Years of Sunshine
Sunshine Centres for Seniors has been working with seniors at risk for isolation and low-income seniors since 1970, following an initiative of the interdenominational Urban Church Board, City of Toronto Parks and Recreation Department, and the Social Planning Council to develop strategies to meet the needs of seniors with fewer family, supports, low incomes, and greater levels of disability. A day camp on Ward’s Island was formed in 1970 to provide seniors across Toronto a summer holiday and social outlet and has been going strong ever since.
In 1974, Sunshine Centres began a winter program at St. Andrew’s Church at Yonge and Bloor, with drop-in programs and activities for seniors. Over the years, this program would grow to be offered four days per week, with once a month group outings on Fridays. The Yonge and Bloor program has expanded through our partnership with the Toronto Board of Education and the generosity of St. Andrew’s United Church.
In 2002, Sunshine Centres achieved the distinction of being one of five agencies from across Canada nominated by The Donner Canadian Foundation in conjunction with The Fraser Institute for an award recognizing “excellence in the delivery of services to seniors.”
Sunshine Centres partnered with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) in 2006 to begin offering weekly programs for seniors in TCHC buildings, starting first with 325 Bleecker St. in St. Jamestown, and expanding to 375 Bleecker and 460 Jarvis, responding to the need in the area for increased supports for seniors. In 2010, we received funding that designated our St. Jamestown program as an Elderly Persons Centre, providing the programs with increased sustainability and support. In 2014, we added a new TCHC site at 252 Sackville Street in Regent Park.
Today, Sunshine Centres for Seniors serves over 2,300 seniors and persons with disabilities and we strive for simplicity in structure and depend on teamwork, voluntary service, and donations to support our mandate. The result is a cooperative atmosphere where warmth and compassion are valued and safety and respect for the individual is paramount. At Sunshine Centres for Seniors, we strongly support cultural diversity and inclusive participation. Seniors from all walks of life are welcome, including seniors from newcomer communities, seniors with disabilities, and seniors from all ethnic communities, religions, cultures, racialized communities and sexual orientations.