Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure hascome to a close in Toronto.
Unfortunately the Danforth Mennonite Church closed one outreach initiative, a Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure unit here in Toronto, Ontario, effective September 2011.
In the Past…
The Mission of the Danforth MVSA unit was to call and support volunteers who will act on faith in Christ by serving the needs of the community.
We had a number of exciting positions to offer potential MVSAers.
Some of the agencies we have served are:
- Canadian Bible Society
- Gledhill Daycare
- Habitat for Humanity
- Jane/Finch Ministry
- MCC Toronto
- Neighbourhood Information Centre
- St Clair O’Connor Community
- Warden Woods Community Centre
MVSA prefers one year commitments from volunteers, but two year terms may be permitted with the agreement of all parties.
MVSA is a pan-Canadian Program:
Several Mennonite congregations in Canada have their own MVSA teams. They share a common web site, MVSA. That page contains subjects like:
- Why MVSA?
- An overview of the program
- Introductions to each of the units
- Current service opportunities
- The handbook
- How to apply
The Toronto unit officially opened on September 1, 2003. At that time, it was called “Mennonite Voluntary Service”. Several service positions have already been established in a number of faith-based organizations including the Canadian Bible Society and two urban community centres. The local MVSA Committee is also exploring a number of other positions with a wide range of organizations from child care to environmental concerns to housing shelters and more.
Toronto is the capital of Ontario and located on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. The weather here is moderate (for Canada) with only a couple months of snow and hot humid summers. Toronto is the largest city in Canada with a population of nearly 2.5 million people and also found to be one of the safest large metro areas in North America.
The Huron meaning of “Toronto” is “the meeting place”. It is definitely the meeting place of many cultures and creeds. One of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is a place where over 100 different languages and dialects are spoken and the population is made up of 48% immigrants. This multiculturalism shows itself in a rich diversity of faces, dress, neighbourhoods, shops, restaurants, festivals and more.
We face social and economic pressures not unlike other large cities, including homelessness, cost of housing, pollution and other environmental concerns, unemployment, underemployment, affordable daycare, isolation, family fragmentation. The unique struggles of new comers are also a major concern in our city.
The Toronto MVS unit has rented appropriate housing in the neighbourhood of the supporting congregation, close to the centre of the city on the major east-west subway line. The church’s immediate neighbourhood is a moderately dense urban area whose residents are lower to middle class and are from a variety of ethnic communities. The neighbourhood was originally settled by British immigrants, but has since diversified and now many cultural groups are represented. A number of unique cultural neighbourhoods are close by, such as Greektown, Little India, and one of the Chinatown neighbourhoods.
The Toronto unit was supported by the Danforth Mennonite Church (DMC) and other Mennonite congregations in the Greater Toronto area.
Unfortunately it became too difficult, especially financially, to maintain this program. Some agencies can find unpaid volunteers; others prefer to hire their own permanent staff rather than training new people annually. Meanwhile, the fixed expenses continued.
It was also an ongoing challenge to match the needs and resources of local service organizations with the talents and interests of the volunteers. While some of the partner agencies were eager to continue the relationship, the congregation felt that it would be wiser to wrap up this program and look for new ways to serve the community.
Thank you to the partner agencies, committee members, and volunteers who gave so much effort and made such a difference in many lives.