CCS celebrates opening of The Exchange
By Bill Rea
Everyone needs to eat, but that’s a problem for some.
Caledon Community Services (CCS) has found a way to make it easier, especially for those in need.
CCS and various community partners officially opened The Exchange last Thursday.
It represents a new model in the delivery of food, as well as health promotion and community engagement throughout the town.
The Exchange operates out of 55 Healey Rd. in Bolton, and the place was packed for the grand opening.
“This has been a long time in the coming,” commented CCS Community Resources Director Michelle Stubbs, adding they hope the Exchange will come to be regarded as a “beautiful new community hub.”
CCS CEO Monty Laskin praised the many people, businesses and organizations that contributed to making the project a reality. He said they are all community builders who want to make things better, and who “put wind in the sales at the Exchange.”
Laskin said the idea grew out of a lack of food support programs in Caledon that were healthy, engaged and compassionate, so they knew there was room for improvement. The problems with the previous system included the fact it was contained in a room that Laskin likened to a “modest walk-in closet.”
He also commented on how the system sometimes missed when it came to meeting people’s needs. There was the sory of one woman putting cans of kidney beans back on the shelf, commenting she couldnâ€™t put them in her child’s lunch bag.
He also observed there are some 250 families making monthly use of food banks year after year, and that number was not changing. He said that was an indication the food support system was unsuccessful.
“That was humbling,” he said.
He commended the contributions of Inglewood residents David and Marty Graham, who started things rolling with a large donation to address food and housing in the community, and that eventually led to the Exchange.
“That mentoring has been so important to me,” he remarked, adding the Grahams have been an “absolute blessing to me and the Exchange.”
“The Exchange was built through community leadership,” Laskin commented. “It has been blessed with extraordinary support from so many Caledon businesses and residents. None of this would have been possible were it not for the progressive thinking of our partners and supporters.”
He pointed to Solmar Development Corp., who provided support for the annual CCS’ Santa Fund, and asked what else they could do.
“We weren’t bashful at all,” he quipped.
The company indicated Laskin should tell them his plans and they would take care of the rest.
“That’s not an offer that any organization leader wants to turn down,” he remarked.
He told them they wanted a community hub that was “warm and inviting and very, very exciting.”
Solmar helped organize the trades and suppliers.
“Their leadership and generosity has been absolutely critical to the building of the Exchange,” he declared.
Others came in for praise, including Caledon councillors, who made the project a beneficiary of their 2012 golf tournament. He also thanked Garden Foods, Bolton Rotary and Mars Canada for their contributions. He said Mars has pledged five years of sustainable funding for the project, adding employees have been volunteering at the Exchange on company time.
Laskin also commented that the United Way of Peel Region has shifted its efforts more toward community building. “This is a very good fit,” he remarked.
As well, he said a big donation came from the Home Depot Foundation, and associates painted the Exchange.
“David and Marty Graham provided an initial gift that lit the fuse of innovation,” he observed. “Solmar Development Corp., Mars Canada, Town of Caledon council, Garden Foods, The Bedolfe Foundation then stepped up to ensure that our vision was fully realized.”
“Husky Injection Molding challenges the community to match its support to families over the holidays,” he added. “The United Way includes the Exchange in its priorities for the way ahead, as does the Region of Peel. Aya Kitchens, Brampton and Caledon Community Foundation, Home Depot Canada Foundation, Liebster Fine Carpentry, McCain Food Canada, Nestle Canada, Ontario Association of Food Banks, Sound Electric 2000 and so many Caledon residents are enthusiastic about the Exchange.”
Laskin observed all these contributions indicate what it took to put a project like this together. “It took a community,” he declared.
Dufferin-Caledon MPP – Sylvia Jones commented that she brags about her community a lot to her colleagues.
“Thank you for giving me one more thing to brag about,” she said.
Councillor Richard Paterak, a member of the CCS – board, thanked the Grahams for their assistance and generosity.
“They are outstanding citizens of the Town of Caledon,” he said.
Paterak also praised the vision of CCS. He recalled recent comments from Premier Kathleen Wynne about retirement and the need for dignity. He said when helping people in need, it’s important to remember to preserve human dignity. He pointed out parents will be coming into the Exchange with their children, and they will remember how their parents are treated.
Rena Crumplen, general manager of Mars Petcare Canada, commented the company’s contribution creates mutual benefits in the community.
The Exchange invites seniors, young people, parents and families to get involved. They can take part in general interest courses ranging from Yoga to preserving fruits to healthy meal preparation.
“A key philosophy of all Exchange activities is the focus on community ownership,” Stubbs commented. “Programs and workshops have been developed and implemented by members of this community. They are reflective of a diverse population and our goal is to continually attract a broad spectrum of Caledon residents through our doors.”
We are asking everyone to think about how they can get involved in Exchange activities.