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  • A Look Behind the Numbers

    04 February 2021 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Abrigo's latest submission to Discover Magazine

    The Abrigo Centre's Manager, Fundraising and Communications, Gerry Luciano takes us on a personal examination of the reality that each client, and their story, is far more complex than a simple reported statistic.

    Please take a look at this month's submission in Discover Magazine: https://www.magazinediscover.com/2021/02/uncovering-the-people-behind-the-numbers/

  • Abrigo is Open But Only Offering Services Virtually

    13 January 2021 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays for assistance

    The Abrigo Centre is open and staff members are working virtually by telephone to assist our clients. This practice is designed to help keep our staff members, clients and volunteers healthy and safe during this January 2021 rise in COVID-19 cases. Our office remains closed to walk-in clients and no in-person counselling sessions are being scheduled at the moment.

    If you need assistance please call us at 416-534-3434 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and one of our highly trained counsellors will return your call.

    The 2021 New Year has seen a rapid growth of COVID-19 cases. Please remain vigilant and safe and we will get through this difficult time together.

  • The Digital Divide: Technology Barriers A Reality For Clients and Staff

    06 January 2021 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Abrigo counsellors working digitally face challenges with clients without technology

    Abrigo counsellor Marta Santos works with her clients virtually on daily basis because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The days of in-person sessions disappeared mid-March 2020.

    What has been clear over the last 10 months is that some Abrigo clients do not have the digital technology - a cellphone, laptop, iPad or even an email address - they need to scrape by in the digital world. This creates challenges for both the client and the counsellor.

    Learn more about this issue and some solutions to the problem in Ms. Santos' article published in the January issue of Discover Magazine: https://www.magazinediscover.com/2021/01/technology-barriers-a-reality-for-abrigo-clients-and-counsellors/

  • 2020 Holiday Season Closure

    24 December 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Abrigo Continues Annual Tradition

    As is our annual tradition, Abrigo will be closed between Christmas Day and New Years Day. We will reopen virtually on Monday, January 4, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.

    This has been a year unlike any other in modern times, but we made it through because of you.On behalf of the entire Abrigo team, thank you to our donors, stakeholders, supporters, volunteers and clients for your generosity and ongoing belief in the important work we do.

    We wish you all a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season!

  • OXALA Livestream Events Raise $2,000 for Abrigo

    16 December 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Rising Star Makes an Impact

    Singer, songwriter OXALA recently held three benefit livestream events through the fall of 2020 for the Abrigo Centre and because of her efforts, and the generosity of her viewers and fans, just over $2,000 was raised for the west-end Toronto social service agency.

    The talented local performer reached out to Abrigo in August with the idea of connecting her three planned livestream shows to a good cause. “It’s been a true pleasure to work with OXALA over the last few months,” says Ed Graça, Executive Director for the Abrigo Centre. “It was clear from our first meeting that she was motivated to make a difference to the women and clients we serve. She was well aware of all our services, in particular, our Violence Against Women (VAW) program.”

    OXALA’s first show in September was an Amy Winehouse tribute concert. With a full band at her side, OXALA knocked out some of Winehouse’s biggest hits and a few of her own personal favourites. Backed by talented guitarist Alan Kulka, the second event was a bilingual concert featuring a variety of music including some of OXALA’s most beloved Portuguese Fado and Brazilian Bossa Nova songs. Videos from this show can be found on her website http://www.oxala.ca or below.

    The final livestream event was the premier watch party for OXALA’s new short documentary “30/TRINTA – Live at The Burdock” a behind the scenes look at her preparations for the recording of her live EP of the same name.

    During each event, the singer encouraged viewers to donate online to Abrigo, an agency that helps over 7,000 individuals each year and some 800 annually in its VAW program.

    “I’ve become passionate about the amazing work Abrigo does every day to help women facing abuse and other vulnerable populations in Toronto,” says OXALA. “It was a wonderful partnership and I was happy to generate some funds and raise awareness for the agency.”

    OXALA will be prominently featured on an episode of Nos Portugueses on OMNI TV coming soon. Please visit her website http://www.oxala.ca for more information on the artist and her music.

  • How Seniors Can Navigate the Holiday Season

    10 December 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Abrigo's December submission to Discover Magazine takes a closer look.

    Abrigo counsellor Marilia dos Santos work extensively with more than 200 seniors registered in Abrigo's Life and Hope group. Prior to the pandemic, a diverse group of 50 to 100 would show up regularly three days a week to share a meal, sing, dance, learn and bond together. That has ended for the time being but she is regularly in touch with most of her clients keeping their spirits as high as possible during this challenging time.

    Please read more about Marilia's work and how seniors can keep busy and engaged over the holiday season here: https://www.magazinediscover.com/2020/12/how-seniors-can-navigate-the-holiday-season-during-a-pandemic/

  • VAW Client Finds a New Lease on Life: A GivingTuesday Story

    30 November 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Support from Abrigo Assists Family Facing Violence

    For many, our home brings us a sense of safety and security. It gives us comfort and leaves pleasant memories. Home is where the heart is, as they say. Yet, for others, a home can be a frightening and dangerous place.

    Grace moved from Brazil to Canada with her family when she was two and grew up in a highly structured and disciplined home with very religious but loving and giving parents. John, her future husband, grew up in Ontario in a troubled family home that saw alcohol abuse relentlessly erode any fabric of stability.

    When Grace found herself in Toronto at the age of 20 and out from under her parent’s watchful eye, clubs and parties were a nightly activity and that was how she met John.

    “I knew right away that his personality and background was completely different than mine. The alcohol and drug use being prime examples,” says Grace, an outgoing, petite woman in her early 30s. “But I thought I could influence him in the right direction. Instead, he influenced me.”

    The early days of their relationship were tumultuous. His excessive alcohol use took centre-stage. Disagreements lead to arguments that often escalated further. On a few occasions, household objects would fly furiously across a room searching for the intended target. A television took a direct hit once smashing the glass, doors were broken and walls damaged. Grace admits that as a strong, outspoken woman, when provoked she often returned his fury with her own.

    After becoming pregnant with their first daughter, the couple decided to marry in part because of her religious background. After the baby’s birth, John’s alcohol use increased as did the verbal assaults, belittling and his controlling nature. Soon, the assaults became physical. Twice her size, he would slap her across the face, push her across the room, choke and spit on her and grab her wrists so strongly he would leave bruises.

    “The next morning he would say that he didn’t remember what he did the night before. Each time he promised that he would stop drinking, that it wouldn’t happen again. He would cry and plead for my forgiveness,” says Grace.

    “We never had a healthy relationship, but I never thought of myself as a victim of domestic violence because I swore at him too and hit back defending myself. I didn’t know the signs of abuse.”

    A second daughter followed rather quickly and the drinking seemingly never ended. Grace was essentially a single parent as her husband was regularly out until four o’clock in the morning or passed out drunk on the couch.

    Grace grew tired of continually apologizing to him to keep him from lashing out. A sense of hopelessness silently followed her everywhere. After yet another night of violence, Grace summoned the courage to call the police. “I decided I couldn’t continue to have my children grow up in that terrible environment at home.”

    There have been a number of challenges with her husband since that evening but it was the first step in turning her life around. Her older sister knew about Abrigo and suggested that she also contact the agency to find additional support.

    “That’s when everything changed. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Abrigo for the first time, but immediately I felt very comfortable and safe,” says Grace. Sometimes talking to a stranger is easier than talking to your family or friends, especially my family. There is no sense of shame talking about yourself with someone you don’t know. ”

    With initial knowledge of the situation, Abrigo counsellor Marta Santos quickly identified the steps they needed to take together. Marta needed to develop a safety plan for Grace and the children, get the family financial support through the Ontario Works program, refer Grace to Legal Aid to secure an experienced lawyer for what was facing her in the future, and the most difficult challenge, and find new subsidized housing for the family.

    “I was honoured to be part of the process,” states Marta, who has worked extensively with domestic abuse clients during her three years with Abrigo. “Reassuring clients that they are not alone is an important component of the work we do here.”

    Finding priority housing continues to be a difficult challenge for social workers across the city. “It took a significant amount of persistence and determination, many months in fact, but thankfully Grace and her children now have a wonderful, safe new apartment they can call home,” remarks Marta.

    Grace is glad her daughters now have a safe and loving environment in which to learn and grow. She encourages other women who are currently experiencing domestic violence or abuse to call Abrigo and get the help they need. Knowledge is power and for the thousands of women living in Toronto and beyond, there is no time like the present to take back that power.

    “Marta did so much for me, she was incredible. Marta fought for me every step of the way and I am forever grateful,” beams Grace. “I lost my confidence for three years, but I am more sure of myself today, more confident than ever before because of my association with Abrigo. What happened didn’t break me, it made me stronger and for the first time in my entire life, I’m making all the decisions. I am going to start my life again and do it right this time!”

    (Names in this story were changed to protect client confidentiality)

  • OXALA Hosts Livestream Watch Party for Premier of New Short Film

    05 November 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Circle Friday, November 13th on your calendar to watch 30/TRINTA - Live at The Burdock

    OXALA, the stage name of dynamic singer, songwriter Dianne Oliveira, will be hosting a watch party for her new short documentary “30/TRINTA – Live at The Burdock” streaming on Zoom on Friday, November 13 at 8:00 p.m.

    30/TRINTA is a behind-the-scenes, short film documenting the making of OXALA’s “LIVE at The Burdock” debut EP recorded at the beloved music venue Burdock Brewery in downtown Toronto.

    This is the third online fundraising activity OXALA has organized on behalf of Abrigo this fall. Viewers are encouraged to donate to the Abrigo Centre before or after they watch the film.

    One year ago, OXALA celebrated the release of her debut single "So Close" on her 30th birthday, performing to a packed house at the Burdock Music Hall. Cinematographer Owen Deveney captured OXALA in the days leading up to that performance and Editor Shane Preston masterfully assembled the footage to create a behind-the-scenes look at who OXALA is and how she prepares for a live show.

    “This year, live shows look a whole lot different,” says OXALA. “Please join me on Zoom for the official premiere of my new film on November 13th. Over the last few months, I’ve become passionate about the amazing work Abrigo does every day to help women facing abuse and other vulnerable populations in Toronto. In lieu of a ticket to this event, I hope everyone who watches the film can make a gift, no matter the size, to support a small organization that does big things to help seniors, youth, newcomers and women facing domestic violence.”

    The Zoom viewing party ID is 894 6775 9495. Please visit OXALA’s website www.oxala.ca/abrigo for more event information.

  • Youth the Focus in Abrigo's November Discover Magazine Submission

    03 November 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Abrgio's monthly column focuses on connecting virtually with local high school students

    Abrigo youth worker Teresa Emmanuel has a long history of working in local high schools talking to young people about healthy relationships and other issues relevant to teens. For Abrigo's November submission to Discover Magazine, Teresa talks about the work she is doing in a local school and how the young women she talks to each day are handling the stress and pressures of online learning, relationships and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Please read her story in Discover Magazine here: https://www.magazinediscover.com/2020/11/abrigo-partners-with-local-school-to-virtually-address-teen-mental-health/

  • Next OXALA Benefit Livestream for Abrigo is coming on Sun. Oct. 25th

    16 October 2020 / Uncategorized / 0 Comment

    Watch on Zoom or Heyoxala on Instagram

    OXALA, the stage moniker of breakout performer Dianne Oliveira, will be hosting “And Now in Portuguese” a bilingual livestream concert and benefit show celebrating her Portuguese roots on Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. on her HeyOXALA Instagram account and Zoom (meeting ID:889 4971 1874).

    Along with her guitarist Alan Kulka, the performance will draw on various musical styles including well known Portuguese and English Bossa Nova, Jazz, Pop and Fado songs. During the show OXALA will be performing, for the first time live, her new bilingual original “As Vozes de Nao” or “The Noise of No”.

    OXALA

    As with the rising star’s first livestream benefit event in support of Abrigo last month, in lieu of purchasing a ticket, viewers will be encouraged to financially support the Abrigo Centre. Donations can be made safely and securely at Abrigo’s website www.abrigo.ca.

    Now in its 30th year of operation, the Abrigo Centre, located in west-end Toronto, is a social service agency that assists over 6,500 clients each year with a primary focus on women who face domestic violence and abuse.

    “From their violence against women program, to their work with seniors, youth and newcomers, Abrigo does an outstanding job helping those in need in the Portuguese community and for local area residents,” says OXALA. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been open, available virtually, and a cornerstone of service assisting individuals and families during this difficult time.”

    Please visit OXALA’s website www.oxala.ca/abrigo for more event information.

    Guitarist Alan Kulka and OXALA

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