Second Base Youth Shelter’s prayers have been answered in the form of new funding that will help it keep its breakfast program running.
The breakfast program it replaces feeds 50 youth every morning and was in danger of being scaled back because of the shelter’s budget concerns.
“It’s a great example to the world that people from different faiths, cultures and nationalities … come together for a common good,” said Waris Malik, executive director of the Islamic Foundation. “Although people might think it’s unheard of that something jointly has been done by Jews and Muslims, I think the relationship we have developed can be a learning experience.”
Myer Siemiatycki, Darchei Noam’s congregation president, added that both the Jewish and Muslim communities place great value on helping the less fortunate and think it only natural.
The synagogue, which has partnered with the Islamic Foundation in the past, has agreed to contribute volunteers on launch day and hopes to give money to support Feeding Faithfully once its own budget allows, Siemiatycki said.
The Feeding Faithfully program is expected to need nearly $6,900 in funding for the year.
The Islamic Foundation has secured half that amount so far, and both it and the shelter are hopeful the city and private donors will step forward.
Second Base is the only youth shelter in Scarborough, providing meals, shelter and learning programs to youth from across the city.
A tightly stretched budget had the shelter looking to make needed cuts, and the breakfast program was high on that list.
“I don’t want to say it was on the verge of closing because we would never do that,” said Jacqueline Manji, manager of fund development and communications at the shelter. “All our programs were in jeopardy of being either cut or seriously reduced, including the healthy breakfast program [which] was a huge drain on our financial resources.”
Paul Taylor, executive director of the shelter, approached the Islamic Foundation after seeing Malik in a CBC feature, Champions of Change.
Malik told Taylor his foundation would not let the breakfast program falter.
“There was a tear in the corner of my eye,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen the incredible effects of young people being able to focus in school [after having breakfast].”
Manji attributes the Muslim-Jewish partnership to Canadian culture.
“It can only happen in the city of Toronto and in … Canada,” she said. “I think it’s a positive reflection of the larger community we belong to.”