A Connected Community Approach: Reinforcing The Importance of Relationships In Times Of Adversity

Article by Shane Beharry, Manager, Community Resource Connections.  

Shane is pictured 3rd from left in this photo taken the day we opened our Sports Courts back in 2014.

A community’s resilience and strength is tested in times of adversity: when the unthinkable happens and tragedy imposes itself on a thriving, progressive and resilient community. 

In early August at The Storefront’s sport court a young man’s life was nearly taken by gun violence.  It sent a shocking ripple effect throughout the community. Community members, community agencies and business owners alike (everyone in the community eco-system) were trying to make sense of the unfortunate incident. 

I have had the pleasure of working at the East Scarborough Storefront over the past 10 years.  My colleagues and I have spent those years, implementing the Connected Community Approach and building a network of intentional relationships. The strength of those relationships was evident in this time of tragedy when our community partners all echoed the same message: “We are standing with The Storefront and the KGO Community during this difficult time and this is how we can help….”

 

The Power Of Relationships Can Do Wonders And A Bit Of Magic 

The partnerships and relationships that are developed through community building work are so vital, both when things are going well in the community and also when the community experiences a traumatic event.  Tragedy inevitably forces us to look inward, to our strengths, to our assets, to our greatest fears, and our relationships. This kind of reflection can allow a community to recognize and cherish the ways in which we are all connected: all part of the same community ecosystem. By being connected through relationships with our  community partners The Storefront was able to know and feel confident that our friends rally alongside us and with us - extending their arms wide open offering their support, services and expertise: 

“It is truly devastating that a community space created for positive youth development was the scene of an unthinkable act. The Storefront is a cornerstone of East Scarborough because it is a prime example of the power of community work and we are proud to partner with them to support children & youth. In the spirit of that partnership, we will provide as much assistance as needed while the Storefront works to support the families who continue to be the heart of the community every single day”.

“On behalf of The Fred Victor East Team and its clients, we extend our sincere thoughts to the StoreFront at this tragic time...The Storefront and its services play an instrumental role in the mental health recovery of our clients. At this time we celebrate the development of this safe space you have afforded our staff and clients on a weekly basis.”  

 

Undiscovered and Hidden Resources/Services available during crisis

During the course of the next week following this incident, Storefront’s partners and City of Toronto’s Crisis Response staff all reached out to The Storefront to express their condolences as well as to offer programs, resources and services available to community members and staff. And, despite our ongoing focus on understanding and leveraging resources, new services and resources we were unaware of were introduced to us and to the community. An unfortunate incident in the community led us to rally supports, create new relationships and have additional resources available for the community. 

By focusing on relationships and using the Connected Community Approach, The East Scarborough Storefront was able to leverage relationships to provide support to our community members and staff. I am so thankful for The Storefront’s  relationships across all levels and at multiple points of community that allow for strategic, intentional and an ever growing system that contributes to the overall wellbeing of the neighbourhood ecosystem. 

To our own staff, community partners, resident groups, all levels of our local government, friends and allies of The Storefront - Thank you all for your support during a time of crisis in the Community! Let’s all continue to work together and intentionally build the relationships that are so beneficial to the KGO community.   Whether or not another crisis occurs, collectively build community resilience: together we are able and ready to respond to the challenges and successes that come with community work. 

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