Every year, we honour our YMCA City Builders: individuals, families, foundations, and corporations who have given $1 million or more to our YMCA to help build vibrant communities.
BMO Financial Group CIBC Clark Family Foundation The Counselling Foundation of Canada Goldie Feldman, Daphne Wagner, David Green, and Lita & Michael Green Martine M. Irman Krystal Koo & Michael J. Cooper
Lorraine & Donald Lawson Jenifer & Steve McDonald The PepsiCo Canada Foundation Steve & Sally Stavro Family Foundation TD Bank Group Toronto Blue Jays – Jays Care Foundation Anonymous (1)
The “pandemic edition” of YMCA City Builders was a wonderful virtual celebration, full of joy, important moments of reflection, the sharing of donors’ impact, and comedy, courtesy of our incredible MC Mary Walsh.
This year, we did not have one City Builder; in a sense, we had many. YMCA President and CEO Medhat Mahdy recognized all of our donors for stepping up through the pandemic when our communities needed us most. Thanks to their remarkable generosity, our Y was able to offer critical services, from food banks to shelters for youth and vital social infrastructure that will support our pandemic recovery.
Canadian actor, comedian, and writer Mary Walsh; our 2021 City Builders MC
Fran Fletcher and Edmund Clark have been opening life-changing opportunities for newcomer and refugee youth for many years. They supported our YMCA’s first privately-funded Newcomer Youth Leadership Development (NYLD) group, tailored for 121 Syrian refugee-background youth in East York. Having seen the tremendous impact this program made, they increased their extraordinary commitment, making the single largest gift toward youth programming at our Y ever: a $2 million investment to create the Clark Catalyst Fund for Newcomers and Refugees. Through this incredible gift, NYLD will grow to reach 1,000 refugee-background young people; tailored groups for refugee youth will triple; and 80 paid program internships will be added. We are deeply grateful to the Clark family for giving our newest community members opportunities to build social networks, develop their language skills, and lead community service projects.
Having arrived in Toronto’s emerging east end as a boy, Steve Stavro knew first-hand what it’s like to be a newcomer in our city. Embracing his new community, he went from helping out at his father’s meat market at Queen and Coxwell, to building the Knob Hill Farms chain of food terminals that employed thousands and also served as a meeting place for kids and adults during their weekly shop. Steve was also a passionate sportsman and was inducted into both the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In 1990, he purchased a controlling interest in the Toronto Maple Leafs and, in 1996, the Toronto Raptors. He united the franchises and created Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. He also oversaw the building of the Air Canada Centre (now the Scotiabank Arena).
A generous and compassionate man, Steve genuinely believed in giving others the same opportunities he experienced as a new Canadian. Throughout his life, alongside his wife Sally, Steve always made it a priority to give back — a legacy Sally and their family carry forward today. In honour of their generous support for our Strong Start, Great Future Capital Campaign, it’s our pleasure to name our new YMCA on Kingston Road The Steve & Sally Stavro Family YMCA. Thanks to these generous City Builders, this new Y will provide essential services and a sense of community in the east end of our city that Steve knew and loved.
From those who make monthly contributions, to those who build on significant legacies with multiple major gifts, some of our most extraordinary donors give to our charity again, and again. These repeated gifts mean the Y can make a sustained impact across our communities in the long-term.
Two of our City Builder families are shining examples, stepping up with significant increases to their already-extraordinary gifts. Our deepest thanks to Jenifer and Steve McDonald, and David Green, Daphne Wagner, and Lita and Michael Green for repeatedly investing in the healthy infrastructure our communities need to shine.
"We have been so impressed with how the Y has managed through the pandemic. We wanted to show our support for all of that hard work. New Ys offer a broader and deeper footprint, and fill a big service gap. It’s important to us to support that.”
Each additional gift made by these transformational donors helps bring the new McDonald Family YMCA to life, expanding access to essential services and providing safe spaces where neighbours can gather to make new connections, nurture old ones, and ignite their community spirit.
“The Y’s response to COVID-19 was easy to support — we were very impressed by every way the Y has stepped up. Everyone sees how problems are being exacerbated and that inequities have widened even more. We want to support the Y in narrowing the gap.”
Thanks to David, Daphne, Lita, and Michael's incredible and repeated support, thousands of youth will find emergency shelter and wraparound support at The Wagner Green YMCA. Formerly known as the Vanauley Street YMCA, we renamed this shelter and drop-in centre to honour the family’s transformational gifts to our Strong Start, Great Future Capital Campaign.
Our amazing donors give people chances to overcome barriers and change their lives for the better. In our latest Gratitude Report, meet some of these inspiring supporters, hear why they give, and learn about the pressing challenges they're stepping up to address.