East Toronto resident Leslie Cringan will be forever grateful to WoodGreen Community Services for providing her with a safe, secure and affordable place to live during a challenging time in her life.
“WoodGreen was there to offer me support and housing and they really gave me a hand up,” said Cringan, a Toronto native who has lived in Leslieville near Queen Street East and Pape Avenue for the last four years.
“I really wanted to give back what was so freely given to me.”
Over the past four years, Cringan has given of her time to better her community.
Starting off small, she partnered with a fellow tenant in her WoodGreen housing complex to create a safe and secure committee.
“From there other committees grew,” Cringan said.
In recent years, she’s helped plan Neighbours Night Out events and has organized monthly eat ‘n’ greet dinners for her fellow tenants among countless other things.
She tries to help out where she can as both a WoodGreen tenant and a member of the Leslieville community and said she is excited when others are inspired by her work.
”When you get the spark going, it really grows. Each year the involvement grows with the neighbours and fellow tenants,” said Cringan, who is now studying at George Brown College with the goal of completing the assaulted women and children’s program and community engagement program.
“Because of volunteering in the community, many doors have opened. Community has always been very important to me.”
Last month, Cringan received a Tenant Achievement Recognition Award from the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), the voice of non-profit housing in Ontario, for her commitment to tenant leadership.
She learned of her win in late June.
“I was quite honoured. When I was nominated I really didn’t expect to win this award,” said Cringan, crediting the staff at WoodGreen for their ongoing support and encouragement.
“I feel I’m part of a team. For me, there’s a job that needs to be done and I just sort of do it. It’s truly an honour to have won this award.”
Angela Cook, vice-president of housing and facilities for the east-end social service agency, said Cringan is more than deserving of the honour.
“She’s an extremely committed individual who likes to participate in the community and try to improve the living environment for not only herself, but also for her fellow resident,” said Cook, calling Cringan a great example for other tenants.
“We actively encourage our residents to volunteer and participate in the communities in which they reside. We’re extremely proud of the work Leslie is doing and this award is a nice way to recognize that.”
Cook said the honour is especially meaningful as WoodGreen, which nominated Cringan for the award, is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
“Volunteering is an integral part of what we’re all about and Leslie is a great reflection of that. We’d like to congratulate and thank Leslie for all the hard work in the community,” she said.
John Wilson, an ONPHA spokesperson, said Cringan is an ideal recipient.
“Leslie was selected for this award because of her hard work building and strengthening relationships,” he wrote in a recent email to The Mirror.
“She’s been a champion, resource, role model and friend to her fellow tenants and staff and her hard work has paid off. She is committed to creating a healthy and successful tenant community and to fostering positive and productive connections with the broader Leslieville community.”