Community’s pilot run supplied Toronto’s Salvation Army Gateway drop-in centre with a dozen chairs. Jake Aikenhead, Gateway’s Director, says the drop-in space in their building serves three meals a day and, in between, offers a safe, welcoming gathering space. From there, Gateway staff work with those who come by to guide them towards finding housing and greater stability.
The furniture at Gateway is used 18 hours a day and so, historically, it breaks down multiple times a year. Community was built to withstand this use. The chair’s one-piece shell, for instance, means that the back will never dislodge while at the same time providing those seated with a comfortable flex. Jake explained that the chair’s aesthetic is also an improvement. Gateway recently installed new wood floors to give the room a more homelike feeling. “These chairs have the same effect,” Jake said. “They are affordable without looking cheap, and they make the space inviting and warm.”
While Community’s design takes into account the needs of a drop-in centre, its contemporary look and quality manufacturing will also appeal to a wide range of institutions, companies, and individuals. Jake knows well the benefit that anyone who sources Community chairs for their space will have on those employed to assemble them. “Getting a chance to have responsibility and take pride in your work can make an immeasurable difference in your mental health and sense of self,” he said.
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Since its opening in downtown Toronto on Valentine's Day of 2000, Gateway has functioned as street outreach, a drop-in centre, and a shelter. As part of its mission to spread real change, Gateway also offers programs and services to help community members get back on their feet.