'Like a family': United Way grant meets needs of Scarborough's Indigenous seniors


When Rosie Garcia moved to Malvern from Toronto’s west end, she felt like “a ghost” there.

Nobody in her new Scarborough neighbourhood knew her and, later, the pandemic had her on an emotional roller-coaster, Garcia, 59, said over Zoom this month.

Things got less lonely when she got involved with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST).

Garcia, isn’t Indigenous; she’s a Latina from Ecuador, but she lives in a Wigwamen building mainly housing Indigenous people.

When virtual programs started at NCFST’s new Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in January, Garcia got five seniors from that community to join.

It makes her happy, she said, to be part of a virtual communal kitchen each Wednesday at the centre, which hopes to give seniors a place in all of its programming.

“They take care of us physically, mentally. It’s like a family; we know each other,” Garcia said.

“Now, especially in this time, we need that.”

Many Toronto seniors need help getting through the pandemic. It’s thought 30 per cent don’t have regular contact with family or friends, said Ruth Crammond, United Way Greater Toronto’s vice-president of community investment and development.

Partnering with the Allan Slaight Seniors Fund secured a large donation recently to address social isolation and help seniors age at home in a healthy way.