Anonymous donor helps YWCA Toronto launch movie night for shelter residents

National Canadian Film DayA good movie doesn’t just divert our attention, it also builds a sense of community. That’s why an anonymous private donor is helping YWCA Toronto launch a weekly movie night for residents and tenants at YWCA Toronto’s 1st Stop Woodlawn. The event series, which YWCA Toronto has dubbed the Woodlawn Film Festival, launches on April 29th with a homegrown film to commemorate the first-ever National Canadian Film Day.

1st Stop Woodlawn provides emergency shelter and permanent housing for women struggling with poverty and homelessness. A cohesive sense of community is especially important for women whose lives are in transition, and weekly social gatherings provide both the stability and opportunities for personal connection that can help women rebuild their lives.

As a resident of the Woodlawn neighbourhood herself, the anonymous donor recognizes 1st Stop’s importance to the community. She generously offered to fund a weekly event that could bring 1st Stop’s shelter residents and permanent tenants together and brighten their weeks. “More and more women are homeless on Toronto’s streets,” laments the donor. “That is why it is crucial to support YWCA Toronto’s shelters. These shelters provide not only housing and food, but also friendship, wise counsel, and moral support to women in transition.”

At Tuesday’s launch, YWCA Toronto will celebrate Canadian film by screening Cas & Dylan, Canadian actor Jason Priestley’s feature directorial debut produced by Montefiore Films. The indie road trip comedy stars Hollywood veteran Richard Dreyfuss and Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, whose performance as a woman escaping abuse in Cas & Dylan won her a Philip Borsos Award at the 2013 Whistler Film Festival. Cas & Dylan producer, Mark Montefiore, will introduce the film. Neal Brothers Foods has offered to sponsor refreshments for the screening.

Shelter residents are excited for the weekly event, which they think will build bridges between permanent tenants and shelter residents. “I think [the film festival] will give us a sense of community, which is what everyone needs,” says one resident. “This is so valuable and shows that YWCA Toronto sees us not just as individuals but as a community.”

YWCA Toronto CEO Heather McGregor agrees. “Women at 1st Stop Woodlawn don’t just need a roof over their heads – they need support and community programs to help them heal and thrive,” explains McGregor. “By experiencing arts and culture as a group through the Woodlawn Film Festival, our tenants and residents will have opportunities for creativity, connection and personal growth.”

YWCA Toronto offers emergency shelter and permanent housing for women and women-led families at several locations. Visit our website to learn more.