What Our Members Say

Knowing your Neighbour – Freddy Lara

Despite the global village concept that many of us embrace, living in a large metropolitan city like Toronto can often be alienating. People live next to you, but who are they? Building community is easier said than done. I love living at Don Area Co-op not only for the community environment, but also the genuine friendships that lead to truly knowing your neighbours.

At Don Area Co-op we are truly blessed. We have come to trust and rely on each other. We know each other’s triumphs and shortcomings. Sure it’s not perfect, but we share a common objective. Each in our own way, we contribute. Where else do your neighbours invite you for dinner, a walk, or a random movie? Where else do you get to take part in spring and fall cleanups and actually clean up the neighbourhood with friends? Where else do your children have play dates almost every day with your neighbours’ children? Where else, when you are lacking a cooking ingredient and the store is closed, can you easily and casually ask your neighbour for it, without having to worry or second guess yourself? 

It’s here at Don Area Co-op where the big city becomes a village and a community comes alive, all because we share common values and know each other. 

Years of Community Living – Judith Blackman

I first discovered Don Area Co-op over thirty years ago. I came to the co-op shortly after my marriage ended, looking for support as a single mother. I not only found that support, I found people with whom I was compatible.

Our co-op feels like a community. It feels like home. It’s where I belong, like a little village. Don Area Co-op provides more than places to live for people who need housing and don’t have a lot of money. It takes a village to create a feeling of home. Don Area Co-op has been that for me.

I joined the Membership Committee and eventually served on the board as president for six years. I loved it. I loved conducting meetings and serving as facilitator, helping a group of my neighbours make decisions about things that mattered. I found I was good at that. This was for me an experience of really living “democracy”. A co-op is a mini democracy. It’s fascinating to watch it work and to be a part of it.

Don Area Co-op is a place that cares and takes care of its members. I was able to transition comfortably over the years from being a single parent to sharing a beautiful home communally with other adults. Not everyone gets along all the time in a co-op, but things have a way of working themselves out. I’m very happy to call this my home.

Co-operation and Action – Patricia Marson Vaughan

I first became aware of the co-operative housing movement in 1997 while working for our local member of parliament. Bill Graham undertook to encourage the federal government to remove co-ops from the impending download. It was my great pleasure to assist him in lobbying colleagues of all political stripes across the country to sign on. During my tenure with Bill, I also did a great deal of election-time campaigning in Regent Park and Cabbagetown, and became enchanted with the neighbourhood. At the same time, our family was outgrowing our apartment, which led me to apply to Don Area Co-op for membership. I continue to marvel at our good fortune.

Don Area Co-op has provided my family with the sense of community and camarederie which is rare in a city so large as Toronto. Co-operative living means joining in where one’s interests and talents are most fitting; and, it also means learning valuable life lessons in communal democracy.

I have enjoyed participating in Don Area Co-op as a Board Director, Sector Delegate, and member of the Capital Projects Committee and the Administrative Committee. As Sector Delegate, I was grateful to be able to attend the 2011 Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada Annual General Meeting in St John’s, Newfoundland. I returned with renewed vigour to promote events and activities addressing the issues of ‘Ageing in Place’, ‘2020 Vision’, and Rooftops Canada.

Recently, I was graced with the David Miller Success Becomes You Scholarship through the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto’s Diversity Scholarship Program, which will permit me to obtain the university degree necessary to contribute to the establishment of co-operatives in developing nations.