Woodbine makes an impact through community investment

The Woodbine Cares community investment program continues to make a difference.

​Constantly striving to be recognized as a caring and innovative corporate community builder, Woodbine Cares is guided by its mission to build relationships and initiatives that contribute to healthy places to play, work, live, learn and grow.

Guided by three themes – Vibrant and Connected Communities, For the Love of Horses and the Environment and Sustainability – Woodbine fulfills this mission through various initiatives, including legacy donations to large community institutions; micro-grants through our community investment program; support employee engagement opportunities that emphasize volunteerism and donations; and programs and activities that lead to a greener future.

​The Children’s Book Bank (CBB) and The Community Association for the Riding Disabled (CARD) are two examples of how Woodbine, through its community investment program Woodbine Cares, supports various programs and organizations in Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area and other communities. throughout southwestern Ontario.

​Established in 2008, CBB is a non-profit, charitable organization located in downtown Toronto in the St. Jamestown and Regent Park neighborhoods.

​For nearly 15 years, the CBB has been distributing new and gently used books to children from baby to 18, in the Greater Toronto Area, with a focus on inner-city neighborhoods. Families can visit the storefront as often as they like, and each child (and accompanying caregiver) can pick up and keep one book per day. Staffed by volunteers, CBB helps customers select appropriate books, which are distributed free of charge.

​Since opening its doors, CBB has donated over £1.5 million.

“The smiles are quite exciting when people walk in for the first time and ask, ‘So when do I get the books back? Do I need to sign up?’ but all they have to do is walk in, pick up a book and take it home,” said Loribeth Gregg, Director, Programming and Development, CBB. “We also have an excursion program at our window, where kids sit for story time, then they can run around and choose a book to take home at the end of the day. You’ll often hear, “Is it free? I don’t have ever to bring him back? You have the same conversations, but they never get old. It’s very touching to see those smiles.

The reach and reach of CBB continues to grow and reach more families through the generosity of individuals, businesses and foundations who have donated funds, books and their time, a group that includes Woodbine .

“We started in 2008 in Regent Park, and we’ve just moved to another part of Regent Park,” Gregg noted. free books because families might not be able to afford them We have become increasingly aware that not all families who need us can come to us, so we have started a program called Books Across the City, which Woodbine helps support.

“The program provides books to other neighborhoods in need that are a significant distance from our Regent Park location. This is where Woodbine comes in. Woodbine funds the part of the program that extends to Rexdale , which is their community. Two other critical areas of interest are the east Scarborough area and North York. It was very important to increase the number of books going to those places. We have been able to do that over the last two years and Woodbine has been a big supporter of that specific part of the program. With other support as well, we were able to hire someone as an Outreach Coordinator. It started out as a part-time position, but now it’s a full time position. We have to keep up with the demand, so it’s good to have this person on board. We really appreciate that. Woodbine is a big part of the Books Across the City program.

​CARD was founded in 1969 by Dr. Reginald Renaud and Mr. Joseph Bauer, driven by the idea of ​​therapeutic riding and inspired by its benefits. In 1979 CARD moved to its permanent location at G. Ross Lord Park, just north of Finch on Dufferin Street. The opening ceremonies were attended by Princess Anne.

The organization helps each rider to find their capacity by designing a program adapted to the therapeutic objectives of each rider. The use of equestrian activities and games promotes strength, self-esteem, adaptability, socialization and independence. Riders practice skills that transfer into everyday life such as number and letter recognition, cause and effect, hand/eye coordination, motor sequencing, multi-step planning, left and right discernment and spatial orientation.

“What I see is riders coming here for therapy, but I really think the attachment to the horse is a huge element,” said Janet Cann, fundraising manager at CARD. what we always say about runners is that they show courage and tenacity and resilience on a daily basis, but it’s nice for them, remarkable, really, to see them at a mountain station and to watch someone from a chair ride a horse. It must be liberating and incredibly cathartic for them.

Over the past three years, CARD has created a multitude of new and innovative programs. Collaborations with 7th Generation Image Makers and the Alzheimer Society of Toronto have resulted in an unmounted program that teaches horse grooming. CARD’s most recent program was created in partnership with Chai Lifeline, offering specialized therapeutic riding programs for children whose lives and/or families have been impacted by chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

“There are two sides to what we do,” she continued. “We do therapeutic riding, and we also do equine therapy, which is more about working with horses, harnessing them, caring for them, grooming them – just that connection with the horses.”

​Cann is grateful for Woodbine’s contributions to CARD.

“Woodbine, whose support goes back a very long time, has been outstanding. It’s a pretty wonderful connection. There’s tremendous respect for horses, and Woodbine has done so much for so many programs, including CARD-a-thon (a fundraising race) They are very supportive of everything we have done, including their dedication to the horses.

Building strong bonds with the community and its people remains a cornerstone of Woodbine Cares’ goal.

“While the Woodbine Cares Community Investment Program provides small dollars, up to $5,000, these micro-grants are targeted to specific initiatives that are truly making a difference and impact in our communities,” said Zenia Wadhwani. , Woodbine’s Director of Corporate Citizenship. and Executive Director, Woodbine Cares Foundation. “And I love that our employees volunteer to help make those decisions.”

​Over the past decade, Woodbine Entertainment has given more than $10 million in financial and in-kind contributions and since 1997, Woodbine has earned the designation and distinction of being a Caring Company from Imagine Canada, where a minimum 1% of its pre-tax income profits are invested in communities.

Here is a list of this year’s Woodbine Cares Community Investment Program recipients:

Albion local services
​Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Guelph
​Community Association of Disabled Riders
comfort bear
​Diabetes Canada
​GTA Distress Centers
Food4Kids Halton
Halton Multicultural Council
Toronto Harbor
Paths to education
SEVA Food Bank
Sunrise Riding and Therapeutic Learning Center
The Children’s Book Bank and the Literacy Foundation
​Toronto Public Library Foundation
Trust 15
homeless youth

by ​Chris Lomon, for Woodbine Entertainment

Jill E. Washington