Appalled by the ongoing situation plaguing Toronto’s homeless population during the pandemic, Dale Burshtein decided to band together with her friends to help those choosing to stay in encampments this winter.
Burshtein is a producer who has worked on several culinary shows. When the pandemic hit, she began sending calls out in an effort to use her connections and get donations for those in need.
In a matter of weeks, she says several people reached out to contribute, including a violinist she has worked with in the past.
Now, she’s working with chefs and home cooks to make fresh gourmet meals for those living in Alexandra Park.
The group goes to the park multiple times a week — bringing music, supplies and a sense of community to those experiencing homelessness.
Volunteers come with food, clothing and tent supplies
“We’re here to offer food and supplies, warm clothing, whatever actually they request, we try to find,” Burshstein said.
“And we’re here just visiting people that have become our friends.”
Burshtein, right, Kelly Fanson, centre, and Serena Bufalino, pictured at the park on Feb. 12.
Bufalino, right, who runs the charity Help Heal Humanity, said “the absolute basics are not being met.”
Eugene Draw plays violin for residents of the encampment.
Residents of the park encampment
“They’re using their own powers, their own resources, and they come around and they treat us like people,” said this man who goes by the name Dredd. “They don’t fence us off.”
Here, he shares a laugh at the entrance to his tent.
Bufalino delivers supplies to Domenico Saxida, who also goes by the nickname Bubbles.
“Good people have been coming out in droves now,” he said. “They’re kind of like our lifelines.”
“They come to the park to help us, and it just [does] millions and millions of wonders,” said River. “It actually probably saves lives.”
The makeshift shelters
A complex of insulated shelters and tents built by Saxida is pictured in the park.
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