Malvern Family Resource Centre provides wide range of Scarborough community programming

The Malvern Family Resource Centre is an in-demand hub of various supports and programming in Morningside Heights and northeast Scarborough. Nick Westoll has more on what's on offer.

When it comes to community gathering spaces in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Morningside Heights, the Malvern Family Resource Centre (MFRC) is arguably near the top.

The centre, located at Littles and Sewells roads, is a busy destination with intergenerational interactions and a sense of togetherness commonplace. During a visit by CityNews on Friday, seniors could be seen playing badminton with younger adults while delicious meals were being prepared in the kitchen.

Balasingham Arumujam is one of the volunteer leaders of the wood-burning art program at the centre for several years. He’s been in Canada since 2007.

“I just want to give back something for the community … and a number of students, seniors … they have learned and they have mastered the art very well, and I am proud of it,” Arumujam told CityNews.

“MFRC is a place where love is ‘overjoying,’ overflowing and the staff is very nice, very understanding.”

One of the participants of the program said it does more than just fill time.

“It’s a relaxing hobby and we come and meet our friends,” she said.

In the Early Years child care room nearby, dozens of parents and children gather regularly. Idania Perez said she visits with her two-year-old daughter.

“It’s just like a really good place for the kids to come in and socialize and there’s like just great activities for them. The staff is super helpful,” she said.

“I like to bring her here to just … get out of the house, to engage. If it wasn’t here, it would be pretty, pretty sad.”

Josh Berman, the centre’s executive director, has overseen the centre for the past two years.

“There’s a gym, it’s multi-purpose. We have basketball (and) badminton drop-in programs. We have early literacy programs in our early-on rooms. We have counselling rooms that support youth and mental health. We have a computer lab that runs STEM programming,” he said.

While the large, two-storey facility has been in operation for nine years. The organization’s beginning 40 years ago was more humble.

“We started in a church basement and really have grown over the years as Morningside Heights and Malvern has grown. More people need more programs,” Berman said.

Multiple youth hubs run by the centre are also operated in the area alongside an urban farm on Morningside Avenue near McNicoll Avenue to address food insecurity. Farmers there grew up to 40,000 pounds of vegetation over a year-long period.

“We grow peppers, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, potatoes, all of that goes into culturally relevant meals,” said Berman.

These and other initiatives help support newcomers from various regions. There’s also a strong Tamil community in the area. But as northeast Scarborough’s population increases, Berman said he hopes to centre expand to meet the needs

“Child care is an area of focus for us and we will look into that more,” he said.

“We will need to support the mental health of our residents. We’ll continue to grow as the population ages to continue to cater for more seniors. MFRC has a bright future.”

The centre is about to kick off its holiday campaign to help neighbours in need and address some of the food insecurity concerns in the area. You can find more details on their website.

With files from Meredith Bond

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