A Neighbourhood Begins Anew
After a devastating fire destroyed the Children’s Storefront in 2009, the dedicated full-time staff, Roona Maloney and Michele De Souza, took stock. They had lost their precious toys, beloved books and the incredible space they had been in since 1975. Surveying the extensive damage, they quickly realized that what they had lost was just “stuff”. Out of the ashes, the community that The Children’s Storefront had built and nurtured was still intact. A beloved community drop-in centre is re-built and better than before. The Children’s Storefront re-opened in February, 2011.
Designed by architect Adam Thom, he generously volunteered his services to build a bright and open space that allows light and sound to flow through. No matter how cold and grey it might be outside, the inside of The Children’s Storefront is colourful and happy.
Not Your Average Drop-In Centre
Once you have signed your child in (at no cost), roam around the upper level: toys, puzzles, generous floor space and a book nook await. In the centre of the room is a community kitchen. Coffee and tea are on tap all day, as well as juice and cookies. Bring your own lunch or sample the wonderful organic and vegetarian food cooked by the friendly kitchen staff. Kids eat well for only $2; adults, $5. Two days a week, The Children’s Storefront also offers community cooking workshops on the lower level. Counters are available at kid height should your little ones want to knead some dough or stir something delicious. Before heading to the lower level, check out the busy art centre: easels, small children’s table, paint, glue, sparkles, markers and crayons galore.
Downstairs is cheery and spacious. Costumes, a crib for naps and toys kids of all ages will covet, this cozy space lends itself to wonderful parent and kid interaction. A massive train table draws most of the attention, and like so many of the toys, it has also been generously donated. Fifteen percent of the budget to run The Children’s Storefront is not covered by government funding, and this amazing kids’ centre thrives because of an extended family of community.
The kids’ bathroom in the basement has everything for your potty training tot. A toilet and sink at kid level, it gives the kids a feeling of ownership. And this is the epitome of The Children’s Storefront: it belongs to the community. No set programming, the kids have total freedom to choose what they want to do and the space in which to grow and develop.
This welcoming community has managed to recreate the magic of the original Children’s Storefront. With incredible neighbourhood support, the tireless dedication of Roona and Michele, and an amazing group of parents and kids, this drop-in centre will become a second home. And anyone who’s at home with a little one for the first, or sixth time, needs that.
The Children’s Storefront
826 Bloor Street West, Toronto, 416-531-8151