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Sponsored feature: presented by Fife House
A Taste For Life, a fundraiser for Fife House. Dozens of Toronto restaurants are set to donate a portion of their gross proceeds from evening sales on April 25 to support people and families living with HIV/AIDS. Full information here.
Life within marginalized communities is difficult on the best days, but things get exponentially more complicated when you’re living with HIV. Maintaining stable employment while accessing critical healthcare resources and raising a healthy family would be nearly impossible without help.
Celebrating a 30-year anniversary, Fife House is the largest provider of housing and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Greater Toronto Area. These services can range from accessing housing or crisis intervention services, to basic assistance for refugee claims and a variety of legal issues. As one of Toronto’s first points of contact with underprivileged communities, Fife House has grown significantly over its decades-long evolution and now serves hundreds of residents and clients through outreach and housing programs.
This spring will bring about the construction of a new housing initiative, which will transform the former Casey House hospital for HIV/AIDS care into 20 rooms of transitional housing. While government support at the City and Provincial levels is crucial for ongoing operations, regular donations from individuals can make all the difference for maintaining and expanding support services.
On April 25, Fife House will be coordinating with dozens of Toronto restaurants for its annual Taste for Life fundraiser. A portion of each restaurant’s gross sales will be donated – but only for this one evening. Participating restaurants in this year’s event include Allen’s, Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, Le Montmartre French Restaurant, The Pilot Tavern, Tabülè Middle Eastern Cuisine and many more.
The impact of city-wide fundraisers like this will be felt primarily by the more than 450 people that Fife House supports through its Homeless Outreach Program. We’ve collected snapshots from some of their stories below.
After arriving in Toronto in 2011 and having nowhere to live, Eustace moved from shelter to shelter. But soon he developed glaucoma and his sight began to fail. Once he connected with Fife House’s outreach program, he was able to simplify the application process for numerous housing programs and services. Eustace qualified for a nine-month stay in a Fife House transitional home, then he was offered a permanent residence in their Sherbourne Apartments building.
“It had been a long time since I had a room of my own,” says Eustace. “I took that room and I went to school in that room. I reflected on what I needed to do, what I should do and what I shouldn’t do.”
Grace fled an abusive husband and immigrated to Canada, successfully claiming refugee status. As part of her claimant process, she had a routine medical exam and learned that she had HIV. This came as a shock and she thought she was going to die. Grace met a local women’s group who brought her to the attention of Fife House, where she gained the support necessary to find safe housing, build her English-language skills and commence the legal proceedings for bringing her children to Canada.
“They gave me a home, support to go to school,” says Grace. “It was easy for me to get help when I called. Fife House made me where I am today, they gave me shelter. Now I’m a happy woman with a family.”
Although he has worked periodically in the restaurant business over his 60-plus years, George’s housing situation was precarious for a long time. His life with HIV/AIDS has also made the aging process more difficult than others might experience. After a nurse visiting him at home and witnessed his state of need, she connected him with Fife House, where he was able to enlist in a care project that specifically aims to support those who are aging with HIV. Now he’s living in a much better home with regular access to services and therapies.
“Without this house and all of you people, I’d be a thing of the past,” says George.
When Elizabeth was 16 years old in Uganda, her family married her to a man as his fourth wife. She was pregnant with her fourth child when a doctor diagnosed her as HIV-positive – but her husband withheld this information from her. The doctor eventually intervened and assisted with her emigration. She arrived in Canada in 2006 as a refugee. Fife House referred her into their women’s shelter program, where she lived for over two years and managed to successfully reunite her family here in Canada.
“I can’t imagine my life without Fife House and the people there who helped me,” says Elizabeth. “My life would be different. Everything of mine – especially immigration, school for my kids – I have it all because of Fife House and support workers and referring me to good doctors and lawyers.”
Find out more about A Taste for Life (April 25, 2018) here.