City Centre Mirror
With a lack of subsidies for child-care spaces, downtown Toronto’s Bond Child and Family Development has had its share of struggles.
The nursery school, which operates out of the Metropolitan United Church at King and Church streets, was slated for closure in December 2011 and was only saved when the children of the couple who founded the organization came up with funding.
Now, a group of opera singers is holding a fundraiser to bring in new money to help subsidize more youngsters from Regent Park, St. James Town and the downtown community.
Led by Renee Salewski and Anthony Cleverton, a married couple whose son Sebastien attends the school, the singers will perform a combination of well-known and less celebrated arias on the subject of love.
“As parents, we receive calls for help and my husband and I would love to give more than just Sebastien’s daily rate, but we didn’t feel we were in a position to do that this year,” Salewski said. “We were trying to think of what we could do and my husband said, ‘Well, we’re singers so we could put on a show.’”
Salewski said she was immediately impressed by the services provided at the Bond nursery school, crediting the staff for helping three-year-old Sebastien overcome motor speech difficulties.
“He could barely say two words at Christmas and look at him now,” she said of the outgoing, talkative child. “The environment here’s so nurturing and attentive and they take great pains to attend to each child’s individual development needs.”
She added Bond staff members make home visits and helped Sebastien with his potty training.
“Their level of commitment and service to these children goes above and beyond,” she said.
Bond was founded in 1937, giving it 75 years of history in the downtown core. It offers bus service for many of its students, whose parents might otherwise be hard-pressed to bring them in. The nursery school provides integrated care for children with and without autism spectrum disorders, a Snoezelen room, an outdoor play area complete with a garden, healthy meals, family and intervention support and more.
Bond Child and Family Development Executive Director Rosemary White said the school is constantly finding new ways to raise funds to complement the United Way funding it receives for its work in helping children and families at risk.
“We have enough money to stay open into 2013, but if we could get enough funding, we could take in more children,” she said.
White pointed out the community the nursery school serves consists largely of families struggling to make ends meet. Without additional funding, the school cannot accept more children even though there is space for them.
“We have 30 vacancies and 36 kids waiting to get in,” she said. “The child-care system has so many problems with it.”
For the fundraising concert, Salewski and Cleverton will be joined by Michael Barrett and Marcelle Boisjoli, along with one of Salewski’s pupils.
The fundraiser, titled A Night of Opera, will take place at Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. E., at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28.
Tickets are $55 for general admission or $75 for VIP tickets that include a pre-show reception, early access to a silent auction and a chance to meet the performers.
Tickets can be purchased by following the link to the show at www.bondchildandfamilydevelopment.ca