Photo: Chinese Outreach Group at an event in Collingwood, ON. © Images Courtesy of Scott Mission
For over 80 years, Scott Mission has been Toronto’s compassionate neighbour,
helping vulnerable people escape poverty on a journey of transformation.
By Tim Jacobs
Scott Mission is Toronto’s longest-serving support agency, grounded in Christian values and providing an array of essential life services—including nutritious food, groceries, gently used clothing, family services, and mental health counselling, among others. We are committed to enabling all people to achieve life transformation by overcoming poverty.
For every day of the past 80 years—despite a world war, recessions, and the COVID-19 pandemic—Scott Mission has met the in-the-moment needs of our community without interruption. But since the pandemic, more and more seniors are coming to Scott Mission for help. It’s a troubling trend.
Toronto has the third-highest rate of senior poverty in Canadian cities. One in six Toronto seniors lives in poverty. Many also experience food insecurity—meaning they lack adequate or basic food. Food insecurity ranges from skipping meals to not being able to afford groceries at all. Often, seniors are forced to choose between groceries or paying a bill. It is always directly linked to poverty.
“The levels and types of senior poverty are unlike anything we’ve seen before,” says Peter Duraisami, Scott Mission’s CEO.
Nearly 50 per cent of Scott Mission’s food-bank clients are age 60 or over, and one-third of our emergency shelter clients are over 60. Our seniors were vulnerable before the pandemic. Now, they are facing extreme poverty while others are now homeless at an advanced age.
“Our seniors face extra challenges beyond the obvious financial ones,” says Julian Picon, manager of the emergency shelter.
“They experience greater physical health and mental wellness challenges, sometimes together,” he continues.
Kevin understands. He’s 63, has a disability, and rents a tiny basement apartment with only a microwave to cook with for $1,100 a month. He often reheats canned spaghetti for a meal. So, he comes in several times a week for meals and to speak with a counsellor.
“I come to Scott Mission because of their willingness to help you out of whatever situation you’re in,” he remarks.
“I work, and I pay my rent,” he continues, “but I’m always struggling bad…”
He pauses, looks up from his meal, and whispers, “What if Scott Mission didn’t exist?”
What if Scott Mission didn’t exist?
It’s an important question. What would our seniors do without us? What about all our struggling neighbours?
One hundred thousand hot meals wouldn’t be available for those in need. Same for over 30,000 orders of groceries. There would be no clothing bank either. No emergency men’s shelter. No family support services. No counselling. Nothing to help vulnerable seniors like Kevin.
Scott Mission has been Toronto’s compassionate neighbour for over 80 years. We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.
We walk with our clients together on their journey of transformation. But we need partners like you to walk with us so that we can help more vulnerable seniors in need.
Please make a gift in gratitude this Thanksgiving (scottmission.com/neighbour or 416-923-2400) so that we can continue to feed, clothe, and care for the poor like we always have.
The Scott Mission is a Christian ministry of mercy and love. We aim to meet the needs of people with love and compassion and seek to bring spiritual, physical, and emotional wholeness to their lives.