BUILDING STRONG AND VIBRANT COMMUNITIES, 1990 – 2025
Youth at PEACH are experiencing compound challenges such as housing instability, academic disruption or disengagement, contact with the justice system, family breakdown, poverty, homelessness and precarious shelter, trauma and violence, mental health challenges and addiction. PEACH works to enhance equity for the city’s most historically disadvantaged residents, employing a social determinants of health approach to tackle marginalization through a comprehensive approach to wellbeing at the individual, family and community scales. By emphasizing the principles of emotional intelligence and civic engagement, in addition to intensive individual support, PEACH offers a trauma- informed and asset-based approach, focusing on building capacity for self-determination according to the unique needs, aspirations and challenges of individuals and the community at large.
2025 will mark the 35th Anniversary of the organization. Stay tuned for exciting new developments and programs that will bring us closer together and support the community, young and old, to be at their very best.
2018-2022: PEACH as a Creative Cultures Hub
In the summer of 2021 a decision was made to strategically orient PEACH as a Creative Cultures hub. This is based on the organization’s many art assets, such as a professional-grade recording studio, performance space and a legacy of quality arts programming. It also responds to a huge gap in the Jane Finch community around accessible arts programming and amenities, particularly for youth. Given the extreme value of neutral space that is welcoming to youth from all sectors of the Jane Finch community, PEACH staff and board members collectively identified Creative Cultures as a strategic priority going forward. PEACH already enjoys a rich reputation as a creative space, honed through music programming like Rhyme to Reason and our music studio drop-in programming. Going forward, Creative Cultures is the lens through which program delivery is modelled. This approach is envisioned as a means to cultivate new dialogues among youth to express their needs, experiences and aspirations with a view to advancing overall positive youth development. It infuses all programming with an art therapy approach to youth engagement, emphasizing self-reflection, creative expression, emotional intelligence and collective discourse.
3 PILLARS AND OUR 25TH ANNIVERSARY, 2013-2015
PEACH continues to grow and respond to youth issues in the community. Since moving into a new 4300 sq ft facility in 2014, we continue to seek innovative programs that engage youth and support the development of assets. The 3 pillars that guide our work: 1) Extraordinary Learning Opportunities; 2) Wraparound Support; and 3) Community Engagement.
PEACH is the only organization in the Jane Finch community to develop a technology hub and offer free programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to youth.
We continue to work with our community partners and the youth themselves to develop a common vision for the community and youth programs that are youth friendly and more effectively meet their needs.
2015 marked the 25th Anniversary of the organization. We have only the highest expectations that our continued work and partnerships will support youth to become the best of themselves.
STABILIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT, 2008-2012
PEACH has strengthened organizational infrastructure, to insure our sustainability. To articulate our philosophy and coordinate our work, we have adopted a Resiliency Model. To serve youth better, we have developed an integrated team approach. We have strategically joined key coalitions and initiatives related to youth educational attainment.
FOCUS ON EDUCATION, 2004-2008
PEACH developed programs to keep marginalized youth connected to their education. PEACH pioneered a community-based program to support youth suspended from school, called “Suspended and Studying”. PEACH joined a provincially-inspired Youth Outreach Program initiative. We connected marginalized youth with summer employment, implemented a successful Summer Credit Recovery program with grade 9 youth, and developed a Music Studio.
NEW RESPONSES, NEW DIRECTIONS, 2002-2004
PEACH focused on the Impact of Zero Tolerance policies on youth in the Jane Finch community. PEACH developed a major initiative called Community Response to Zero Tolerance that included public legal education, as well as individual support to youth and families involved in the courts and in the Safe Schools measures. Through partnership and training with Oolagen Community Services, PEACH provided Wraparound support to youth in reaching their goals. We completed a research project with York University School of Social Work (through the Black Creek West Community Capacity Building Project), and implemented a youth employment project called “Get on the Bus”.
PEACH DEVELOPED AS A STAND-ALONE ORGANIZATION, 1998-2002
When the FOCUS initiative ended, PEACH became a stand-alone non-profit charitable organization with an anti-poverty mandate. Ruth Morris, who had been a key leader in FOCUS, became PEACH’s first Executive Director. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Morris) PEACH focused on Community Economic Development. Fred Hayes, a bank manager, was seconded to PEACH by Royal Bank to work on Community Economic Development and access to basic banking for disadvantaged populations. The community newsletter grew and thrived, taking on more of youths voices. Staff and youth developed a radio show, “Jane Finch Mosaic’. The Community Garden of Friends drew residents from a rich variety of backgrounds. ARAPO continued at PEACH until 2001.
EARLY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, 1990-1998
PEACH was a partner in community development in Jane-Finch, through Black Creek Anti-Drug Focus Community Coalition. The Coalition worked towards enhancing community capacity and safety, and addressing alcohol and drug abuse. Activities included a community newspaper in five languages, grassroots training in community issues, Community Health/ ARAPO (Association for the Reduction of Alcohol Promotion in Ontario), Coalition Against Neighbourhoodism, and a Community Banking Project.