Case Study: On the Merger of Dixon Hall and Mid-Toronto Community Support Services

Kate Stark and Kaarina Luoma
Community Health Ontario, April 2015

Since 1929, Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services has been the place for east Toronto residents to get the help they need to dream, grow and thrive. Over the past 85 years, their services have grown and changed to support the needs of the vibrant neighbourhoods they serve, including the recent integration (in January 2014) with Mid-Toronto Community Services to ensure strong, effective services for our community seniors. The annual operating budget for Dixon Hall is $10M, with a staff team of 250, and the assistance of over 2,000 volunteers annually. Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services is a founding member of the United Way of Toronto.

Kate Stark joined Dixon Hall as the Executive Director in November 2004. Born and raised in Toronto, Kate has worked in social services for over 35 years, joining Dixon Hall after serving as the Executive Director of Homes First Society during a time of transformative change. She values neighbourhood and safe, healthy community and uses her leadership skills to make change that results in opportunity for community members. As the surrounding community to Dixon Hall undergoes huge urban development, including the redevelopment of Regent Park and the creation of the West Don Lands Community, the agency is challenged with ensuring its services and programs work to create social cohesion and inclusion necessary for the development of healthy communities where all members are welcome. Kate is supported by a strong Board and employee group at Dixon Hall as she leads the agency through a change process that celebrates the agency’s past and strengths and readies it for the new mixed income communities of the future.

Kaarina Luoma is currently the Associate Executive Director of Dixon Hall. Kaarina has over 30 years’ experience delivering community-based health care services. As the former and final Executive Director of Mid-Toronto Community Services for 12 of those years, Kaarina stewarded a doubling of United Way funding and guided a 30% growth in programs and services. The agency’s pioneering work with the HIV/AIDS community and the partnership programs with the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) and the Toronto People with AIDS Foundations (TPWA) were introduced with her leadership. She was instrumental in having Mid-Toronto chosen as one of three lead agencies to implement a Community Navigation Access Program (CNAP), an innovative network of over 33 charitable organizations working together to serve seniors in communities across Toronto. Kaarina joined Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services as the Associate Executive Director in January 2014. She continues to use her leadership as a passionate advocate for preserving the dignity of the most vulnerable in the community.

Download: Case Study: On the Merger of Dixon Hall and Mid-Toronto Community Support Services



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