Celebrating 25 Years of Building Strong Futures for Women
“It’s important to take the opportunity to celebrate achievements,” said YWCA Toronto CEO Heather McGregor at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of YWCA Toronto’s 3090 Kingston Road Employment and Training Centre. And the employment and training team has a lot to celebrate. In the 25 years since they first opened their doors in Scarborough, they have helped tens of thousands of women from across Toronto prepare for employment, secure well-paying jobs, and build strong economic futures.
Central to YWCA Toronto’s mission is helping women build labour market skills and secure good jobs. “YWCA Toronto was founded over 143 years ago by a small group of women who saw a need to help young women coming into the city from rural communities,” said McGregor. “We have always worked to be ahead of the curve on issues that are important to women and employment and training is one of our original programs – it is as relevant today as it was over 140 years ago. I speak on behalf of the entire YWCA team – I am so proud that we have had the opportunity to serve the Scarborough community for over 25 years.”
From left to right: Heather McGregor, CEO of YWCA Toronto, Camesha Cox, Constituency Assistant to the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, Eva Pakyam, Manager of Employment Programs at 3090 Kingston Road, and Marilda Tselepis, Director of Employment and Skills Development.
YWCA Toronto’s Employment and Training Centre first opened its doors in 1991 with academic upgrading and specialized employment training for women. Since then, they have expanded into a bustling multi-service employment and training hub for women and girl. “This is an example of what happens when a group of tenacious women take a small idea that meets a specific need and they keep building innovative and relevant programs that help women secure not only good jobs, but great jobs,” said McGregor.
The Centre’s positive impact can be felt across Scarborough – from the women they serve every day to their strong ties within and beyond the community. Zaheeda, a former YWCA Toronto participant, owner of the Caribbean Coast restaurant, and mother of four, shared her powerful story with a crowd of alumnae, funders, and community partners. “YWCA Toronto taught me that nothing can knock you down and that you are so much stronger than you think. YWCA Toronto helped me in so many ways – from gaining new skills to finding that great job to building confidence in my talents. Before YWCA Toronto, I would have never thought I could take on a new restaurant. But I did!”
Community partners and supporters were honoured to hear first-hand stories from alumnae and past participants. “When I listen to graduates and past participants talk about their experiences going through YWCA Toronto’s employment and training programs, I am moved to tears,” said Stephen Chaves, Manager at the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development at the Government of Ontario. “To hear the impact these programs have on the lives of women makes me so proud to be part of the work you do. To everyone who has gone through YWCA Toronto’s employment and training programs – it is your dedication and hard work that has brought you to where you are now.”
Anyone who has gone through a YWCA Toronto employment and training program knows that the staff are exceptional – they are passionate and dedicated to helping women build strong futures. “One thing I have noticed about YWCA Toronto is that women keep coming back, said Zaheeda, “once they’ve got their good job, they want to know how they can give back. We want to know how we can help other women. I will always be there for YWCA Toronto.”
“Thank you to everyone who joined us to celebrate this significant milestone,” said Manager Eva Pakyam. “We are so lucky to do the work we do and have done for the last 25 years. We are excited to continue growing and broadening our work in the Scarborough community, the City, and across Canada.”