This content was created by the Xtra Branded Content Team alongside Olay and the 519separate from writing Xtra.
True to the words “space for change” in its description, Toronto-based organization The 519 has embodied this motto since its beginnings in 1975 as a community center after the eponymous building at 519 Church Street was saved from demolition. Once the structure was purchased by the city, the center became a community initiative that eventually welcomed many 2SLGBTQ+ groups into its fold – a direction highlighted in 1982, following infamous bathhouse raids by police of Toronto.
Over the years, the acclaimed facility has become a local mainstay for providing affirming and non-judgmental spaces for individuals, groups and nonprofits, while offering all kinds of activities and workshops and supporting those in need. . From providing citizenship application assistance for newcomers or 2SLGBTQ+ immigrants, to organizing family-focused field trips, and hosting art-focused events like Pride Illustration native, The 519 has something for every stripe of the rainbow.
These days, the community hub has come to play a vital role in lending a helping hand to 2SLGBTQ+ people looking to call Canada home: helping them navigate complex and often overwhelming paperwork, refugee hearings and adapting to life in Canada,” says Martha Singh Jennings, community engagement manager at The 519. by chemist Graham Wulff who wanted to give his wife his ideal moisturizer – joined the cause of supporting diversity and equity in 2SLGBTQ+ spheres by donating $50,000 to The 519.
The past few years, marked by the pandemic, have further underscored the importance of this organization in Toronto and beyond, as COVID-19 has exacerbated the deep needs already existing within underserved 2SLGBTQ+ communities. “519 supports seniors in times of social isolation, addresses increased food insecurity, and expands our programs, such as legal clinics, to fill gaps in unaffirmed social services. This work is greatly facilitated by the generosity of our donors and volunteers,” says Stacy G. Kelly, Director of Philanthropy at 519, highlighting how donations like the one made by Olay provide the foundation on which the organization can stand. During these challenging times, 519 continues its support, both online and in-person, and is there every step of the way, promoting community vaccine engagement and offering weekly COVID-19 clinics so residents can be vaccinated in a location with low-barrier access. .
As Pride is upon us, there is no better time than the present to support an organization that has been supporting 2SLGBTQ+ communities for over 45 years. This year the Green Space Festival will return to Barbara Hall Park (519 Church Street) from June 23-26, offering Pride revelers the opportunity to give back, as the celebration doubles as a fundraising event for The 519.
Over the years, mutability has become part of the organization’s DNA, and it has programs in place to ensure adaptability is passed on to help build strong future generations. Initiatives like the Trans Youth Mentorship Program (TYMP), which helps participants build life, employment and community development skills, are part of this ongoing progress. 519 has always been quick to adapt to the changing needs and realities of the communities it supports. Although it reflects the vibrancy and diversity of its communities, one idea remains firmly anchored at the heart of the organization: pride is something that comes from within and can be carried with you throughout the year.