The 519 Church Street Community Centre
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|Tax ID No.||11931-0761-RR0001|
|Founded||Established 1975 (Opened 1976)|
|Headquarters||519 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario|
|Employees||~ 50 FTE|
|Motto||Where communities meet, participate and celebrate.|
The 519 Church Street Community Centre, colloquially The 519, is a public-private partnership of the City of Toronto. As a Canadian charitable, non-profit community centre in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, The Centre serves both its local neighbourhood and the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in the Toronto area.
According to The Centre's mission statement they are "a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a vibrant healthy downtown community." The Centre aims to "respond creatively and passionately to the needs of the local neighbourhood and the broader LGBT communities by providing resources and opportunities to foster self-determination, civic engagement, and community enrichment through social recreation, volunteerism, arts and culture, and community participation."
Community programs and services 
Programs run by The 519 
In 2005, The 519 provided services to 25,734 individuals and hosted 4291 meetings, conferences, groups, and special events. People come to The 519 not only to receive and but also to provide social services. In 2005, over 34,000 volunteer hours kept The 519 running, including 22,743 hours by Programme Volunteers and 11,248 hours by Community Volunteers. Volunteers are central to the existence of programs at The 519.
People choose to come to The 519 for a multitude of reasons, such as a particular social service need, recreational interest, or desire to give back to the community. The 519 fulfills a public function by providing space to community groups that may not otherwise have access to appropriate space.
To fulfill its mission, The 519 directly runs and co-sponsors a variety of social service programs, including:
- AIDS Memorial
- Anti-Violence Program (AVP)
- Anti-Poverty and Homelessness
- Family and Children
- Counselling and Advice
- Older LGBT
- Queer Immigrants and Refugees
The 519 has also inspired similar organisations in other communities such as the GLBTTQ Community Centre of Ottawa.
Partnership programs and events 
- AIDS Memorial
Space use and community-run programs 
The 519 provides free meeting space and support for community member volunteers and community organizations to develop their own programs. In 2003, The 519 housed 75 volunteer-run programs (in areas of community services, education, recreation, and self-help), and welcomed 140 user groups (in areas of community fundraising, off-site recreation, professional associations and unions, social activists, social service organizations and tenants’ organizations). The 519 estimates in its 2003 annual report that approximately 26,000 individuals visited the centre over 160,000 times.
Governance Model 
The 519 is a Board of Management of the City of Toronto, falling under the category of "Agencies, Boards and Commissions" alongside organizations like Build Toronto, Exhibition Place and the Toronto Public Library. As a public-private partnership of the City, The 519 leverages community insight, knowledge and resources to animate the building. In 2011, for every $1 the City of Toronto provides to keep the building open and operational for the public, The 519 brings $1.79 in community investment to provide programming
Association of Community Centres 
The 519 is a member of the Association of Community Centres (AOCCs), which comprises 10 volunteer board-run multi-purpose facilities providing a broad range of community, recreation and social service programs to residents in the local community.
The AOCC model is a hybrid between a City agency and an independent, not-for-profit, community-based organization. The core administration activities are funded by the City and treated like a City agency (building maintenance and upkeep, utilities, etc.). Community programming is funded through fund-raising (corporate and individual donations, grants, etc.) and is led by the community-based Board of Management. The 519 is a member agency of the United Way of Greater Toronto and the Toronto Neighbourhood Centres and has received funding from various governments, corporations and foundations including the Community One Foundation and Government of Ontario.
Details of the relationship between the City of Toronto and AOCCs are outlined in a relationship framework approved by City Council in 2006.
Board of Management 
The 519's Board of Management includes the Ward 27 City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (ex-officio) and 11 citizens. Citizen members of the Board are elected by members of The 519 who are residents of the catchment area. The Board of Management is subsequently appointed by City Council.
The Board operates from a modified Policy Governance model which ensures delegation of day-to-day leadership of the organization to the Executive Director Maura Lawless. The Board is currently led by Pascal Dessereault.
The centre was founded by the City of Toronto in 1975 and opened its doors on March 8, 1976.
Program History 
Many programs were developed based on expressed needs of people in the community.
Anti-Poverty and Homeless Programming 
Homeless persons began dropping in on Sunday afternoons, a day when many other programs were closed. Coffee, cards and checkers were the first activities in a program that has become an essential service for homeless people. Over the years, as poverty increased, the Sunday Drop-in developed into a meal and clothing program with referrals, a book cart, movies and other activities. Since 1996, the centre has opened for longer hours on Sundays in the winter months in order to offer two meals. It is also open on statutory holidays in winter.
Family Resource Centre 
Another program, the Family Resource Centre, began when a group of neighbourhood mothers formed a play group in the 1970s. The program now offers support, referrals and workshops to families with children up to six-years-old, and the drop-in program has been augmented since 1994 by the community centre's involvement in Growing Up Healthy Downtown.
Trans Programs 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2010)|
In 1997, Mirha-Soleil Ross started the MEAL-TRANS programme, beginning The 519's Trans Programmes. MEAL-TRANS served healthy, vegetarian food to lower-income and street active ts/tg people. The Meal Trans Programme also became a hub for people in the ts/tg community to get peer support, attend workshops and even get clothing which matched their core self. By 1999 a sex workers outreach component had also begun under the direction of Ms Ross and the Meal Trans Programme.
2001 saw the creation of Trans Youth Toronto by activist Christina Strang, then Trans Programming Supervisor at The 519. Trans Youth Toronto is a social drop-in for trans youth under 27 years old, and is the longest-running trans youth group in Canada.
LGBT Programming 
Gays and lesbians living in The 519's coverage area have been among the most active and visible members and users of the community centre. Most groups are run by volunteers, and the group members appreciate the safe environment, accessibility, and The 519's role within the community.
12-step programs, other mutual support groups, and recreational programs such as card and board games have thrived in The 519's environment of accessible space, diversity, helpful and knowledgeable staff, and a strong volunteer contingent.
In the 1970s, many other programs were developed. Seniors formed one of the first social clubs at The 519. Developmentally challenged adults also have had a dance on Friday nights since the late 1970s.
Healthy Kids Summer Day Camp offers families with school-aged children with quality and low-cost activities during students' summer vacations.
In more recent years, the centre's program development has focused on issues such as poverty, violence, and advocacy. The Thursday Legal Advice Clinic has been joined by a Wills Clinic for people who are HIV positive. An Income Tax Clinic assists low income people every year. The Anti-Violence Program supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons who are victims of anti-gay violence or domestic violence. Many LGBT support groups have made The 519 their home. Short-term community counselling is available to anyone, in response to the pronounced need in the neighbourhood. Most recently[when?] the centre developed the Trans Programmes, services unique in Canada, which focus on support, advocacy and drop-in programmes for transgender and transsexual communities, particularly those who are street active and living in poverty.
Capital Renovations 
In 2001, as use of the building reached capacity, The 519 undertook a process to raise money for a 3-story addition to be built onto the existing structure.[dead link] The 519's Capital Campaign, chaired by Salah Bachir, successfully raised money from the local community to fund the New Wing.[dead link]
In June 2006, the still-unfinished new wing of The 519 was officially opened. Over the next year it was used for meeting and events space but in August 2007 was closed for final renovations. In November 2007, the new wing was finished and housed the staff and services of the centre while the original building was renovated.[dead link]
See also 
- The 519's Website
- The 519's Constitution
- Programmes offered at The 519 Church Street Community Centre
- The 519 Space Use Policy
- City of Toronto Website for Agencies, Boards and Commissions
- The 519 2010-2011 Annual Report
- Relationship Framework between the City of Toronto and the AOCCs, Approved September 2006
- PDF (192 KiB)
- PDF (3.27 MiB)
- 519 Expansion and Renovation Project
- The 519 Church Street Community Centre — Official website
- City of Toronto Website - Association of Community Centres