Local Artisan Sends Toronto Adults Living in Poverty to Camp This Summer

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Local artisan Darlene Martin has partnered with Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) to provide a Canadian camp experience for adults living in poverty through proceeds from her "Summer in Parkdale" exhibit.

After my first opening in the neighbourhood, I decided that I would have a special exhibition in Parkdale to benefit PARC

For over two decades, PARC (http://www.parc.on.ca) has provided a safe haven and personal betterment opportunities for adults living in poverty in Toronto through extensive programming. Each year PARC serves over 2000 individuals (referred to as members), half of whom have a significant history with the mental health system and half living in poverty - many with addictions, many with multiple barriers such as developmental delays, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Acquired Brain Injury.

Members are predominantly single, male, and between the ages of 36 and 65. In keeping with a Canadian tradition, one of PARC's programs provides the opportunity for 40-50 of its members to experience the great outdoors at Camp Kandalore in Minden, Ontario. This summer, Darlene Martin of Bijouxbead (http://www.bijouxbead.com) will be helping to fund these efforts through her "Summer in Parkdale" collection being shown at Made You Look Jewellery Gallery, 1338 Queen Street West until August 31st.

Victor Willis, Executive Director of PARC, has been involved with the organization for twenty years and has seen the positive effects of the Camp Kandalore program first hand. "From day one we observed the dramatic effect of providing members with a respite from their daily surroundings. As PARC members got off the bus and walked around the grounds, sat on the dock, explored the trails and paddled on the lake, it was as if many of the symptoms simply melted away," Willis recalls. "This experience reinforced for us that often the symptoms of mental illness are the symptoms of poverty, lack of options, few choices and the environments people are relegated to live and survive within."

Learning of PARC's programs after a previous showing of her work in the area, Martin realized that she could combine her business with fundraising. "After my first opening in the neighbourhood, I decided that I would have a special exhibition in Parkdale to benefit PARC," Martin says. "I also want to inspire people to learn more about Parkdale's history, challenges, art and culture." To meet these goals, Martin created the Summer in Parkdale collection with a portion of sales directed to PARC. The collection includes necklaces named for the three main estates forming Parkdale - O'Hara, Gwynne, and Dunn - and local landmarks. Martin says the colour palette was specifically chosen to represent a toughness paired with a calm, soft feel that echoes the dichotomy of the neighbourhood. Willis notes that 100% of the donated funds from Summer in Parkdale will go directly to supporting programs. "We were fortunate to be approached by Darlene and are thrilled with her identifying us as the beneficiaries of her generosity," Willis comments.

About PARC
The Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC) is a drop-in community centre located in the west end of Toronto, an area known for its harsh social climate. PARC has been operating for over two decades and offers support to help sort out a life; it is a springboard for self-improvement, finding shelter, getting education, and getting work. PARC is located at 1499 Queen Street West and can be reached at 416-537-2262 or online at http://www.parc.on.ca.

About Summer in Parkdale
Honouring Parkdale's story, challenges and reputation as a destination for local contemporary art & culture, this exclusive collection from Bijouxbead combines alluring metal, stone and glass in hues ranging from steel to pewter to blue. Named after significant Parkdale historical landmarks, a portion of the proceeds from Summer in Parkdale is being put back into the community, benefiting PARC, "a community where people rebuild their lives". Exhibition currently open until August 31, 2009 at Made You Look Jewellery Gallery, 1338 Queen Street West.

For further information please contact:
Michelle Halsey, mCommunications


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