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At the Mid-Scarborough Sewing Club, Quick Start Funds helped provide valuable training, offered an opportunity to save money and practice English, brought people together to reduce isolation, and created vital social networks that continue to benefit the community.

Resident Action Grant success story

The Mid-Scarborough Sewing Club

Many newcomers, particularly women who are responsible for childcare at home, feel isolated when they first come to Canada. They often lack a cultural network and the support of family and friends.

The original members of the Mid-Scarborough Sewing Club met at an Action for Neighbourhood Change Learning and Development Group, where they discovered a common interest in learning to sew. Having found items like sari blouses and salwar kameeze expensive in Toronto, many were looking for ways to make culturally specific clothing for themselves and their children.

With a leg up from Quick Start funding, the women were able to buy seven sewing machines and two sergers. Bins of fabric, thread and sewing notions were donated by people in the community, allowing them to produce clothing, pot-holders and shopping bags. In time, these budding seamstresses also found they were developing important community connections and language skills.

"Resident Action Grants are used to pay for initial expenses like equipment, space and training. These smaller one-time grants facilitate the development of the Quick Start projects into full-scale programs that succeed in rallying wide community interest. Quick Start initiatives prove that it doesn’t take a big investment to make a big difference."

As they sew, these women are improving their English, a valuable skill for anyone looking for employment. They share stories and learn about local services that many of them need.

Important frienships have developed between club members, creating a social support system. The network around the club has grown to include volunteers, ANC workers and staff at the Don Montgomery Community Centre where the classes take place.

The sewing club continues to make a difference in the lives of participants and the Mid-Scarborough community. Best of all, its membership continues to grow.

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