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Richeline, Retail Foundations student, tours GLOW with Mario Gravelle, The Counselling Foundation of Canada

New student Richeline and Counselling Foundation's Mario Gravelle tour GLOW“I’m looking for a job but I don’t have any Canadian experience,” said GLOW volunteer Richeline, who is among the first cohort of participants to enroll in our new Retail Foundations course.  

Richeline, a mother of three who came to Canada from Haiti, is the ideal candidate for this program which launched in February and is geared to newcomer women facing barriers to employment. 

Ali Jiwani, surprise guest, interviews JenniferSpring came early for New Circles on Tuesday, March 1st.  About 50 die-hard supporters showed up at 6:30am to welcome BT’s Live Eye host Jennifer Valentyne and help launch the 2016 Prom drive for our 9th Annual Prom Boutique.

A number of special guests joined us as well:

New Circles Community Services is pleased to announce the receipt of a $248,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to support its core program GLOW (Gently Loved Outfits to Wear). Over the next three years, the grant, part of OTF’s new Grow grant program that enables organizations to build on proven programs in the community, will help New Circles expand its free clothing bank to meet the needs of 12,000 vulnerable residents each year.

A wonderful celebration at Centennial College took place this month to honour 10 new graduates from our Business Office Skills program, offered in partnership with the college and Goodwill Industries. Michelle deCoste, the Dean of Continuing Education and Alykhan Suleman, our Executive Director, were joined by Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who brought greetings on behalf of the Mayor, to celebrate this accomplishment. Tabinda spoke on behalf of the graduating class, noting how she appreciated learning about Canadian business norms such as making eye contact and having a firm handshake, as well as having improved her public speaking skills and gaining confidence for her job search.

In response to the humanitarian crisis, New Circles has opened its doors to welcome Syrian refugees arriving in the City of Toronto. Working with Lifeline Syria and other partner agencies, we have made a commitment to provide free clothing to the refugees for up to two years.  Not only will families receive quality clothing, they can also access social programs, language tutoring and training opportunities offered at no cost by New Circles.

Clothing, along with food and housing, is a basic necessity.  “With so many initiatives taking place across the city, we are in a unique position to provide extended support to help families meet this particular need.  We have lots of capacity to sort and distribute clothing, a great team of volunteers and a wide network of clothing donors and agency partners.”  says Alykhan Suleman, Executive Director.

October 16th marked New Circles’ 2nd annual Spooktacular Event – an opportunity for some of our youngest shoppers to visit us and select the perfect Halloween outfit!
Over 100 children ages 0 – 12 were able to have their Halloween wishes come true – expressing their inner princesses, superheroes, goblins, ghosts and much more.
New Circles doubled the number of participants served this year, due largely to the sourcing efforts of event organizer Poppy Phioukham, for whom the celebration resonated personally. “I remember growing up with parents who had made the difficult journey to Canada themselves. As a child it is so easy to feel different or that you don’t belong. This is made so apparent if you don’t have the means to participate in a childhood rite of passage. It’s amazing what one outfit, whether it be a suit for an interview, a prom dress for graduation or a Halloween costume for a school parade can mean to someone.”
Prom Boutique youth participants

Excitement filled the air as students poured into the Prom Boutique to select the perfect outfit for their special night.

Graduate of Business skills program

On February 12th, 10 women shared a milestone as the first graduates of our new Business Office Skills program.

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New Circles re-opened for service on January 19. Meeting this deadline was no easy feat and made only possible through a generous team of volunteers. Amongst these volunteers, was the Professional Organizers of Canada (POC), Toronto team. On January 7, POC brought 15 enthusiastic volunteers to sort, hang and organize clothing, shoes and accessories in preparation of setting up our clothing service.

This particular team was just the right group for the job: orderly, methodological, system-oriented and perhaps most importantly – kind-hearted!

Within just 6 hours of work, the POC team had truly moved mountains…of donations that is! Special thanks to Dennise Conforti and Rachael Kalinsky for helping coordinate this initiative.

We are so grateful to all our volunteers and staff who contributed to this major effort in the past six weeks.

Holiday Angel Program Brings Much Needed Support to Families

The Holiday Angel Program 2014 proved to be a success, with 183 families (530 individuals) served.

On October 3rd, we welcomed an energetic team of 20 Deloitte employees for a second year to mark their annual Community Impact Day. Given the high degree of expertise in the group, we’d thought we’d tap into their knowledge this year as well as their labour and invited them to to take part in a “Think Tank” to help us develop a social media strategy for our upcoming Giving Tuesday campaign.
While half of the group helped out in our Clothing Program, organizing clothing donations and assisting clients to shop, the others joined the Think Tank session, bringing a a range of expert skills in graphic design, social media and strategy to the task. To keep it interesting, we turned it into a competition, creating two teams who would pitch their ideas to a voting audience of fellow colleagues, staff and volunteers.      

When Sawsan signed up for our new Business Office Skills program, her biggest worry was the math section.  Three weeks into it, she’s surprised to find that’s the part she likes the best.  “The minute you start really knowing and solving the problem, it comes really interesting and you want to do more.”

The Business Office Skills program, launched for the first time in September, is an innovative approach to support newcomer women like Sawsan, a volunteer at New Circles, to enter the workforce. Developed in partnership with Seneca College, Skills for Change and Golden Mile Employment Services, the 20 week program combines classroom instruction with on-the job learning through a placement at New Circles or one of our partner agencies.  The curriculum includes core business and customer service skills including basic math, English, MS-Office and effective communication.