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Chips Charities: Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive

My grandfather was a fire chief and my Dad was a fireman. In fact, my Dad was born on the day of a big parade firemen were scheduled to march in, so my Dad was made an honourary fire chief the day he was born. Even after my Dad was no longer active, I remember being awakened to “bring your pillow, we’re going to a fire.” I assumed all kids did this and never questioned it. Off we’d go in our station wagon and we’d have a front-row place to watch the excitement. Usually, my Dad would help in directing traffic or something. It was a small town, and the fire department was in his blood.

I also remember a few very special Christmases where I woke up to a bicycle under the Christmas tree. Well, the first technically was a tricycle, but no less special.  I would have been 3, 6, and 10. Great memories. I grew up to love cycling. I have done many long-distance cycling trips including Niagara, Falls, Vermont, Boston to Philadelphia, and San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Since I started in real estate, I have always given a portion of my income to a community charity. I have decided to dedicate those monies to the Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive. I thought this was just a Christmas campaign, but I found out it is a year-round effort, since fires happen all year long and children lose their toys when their family loses everything. I love the thought of giving new memories to kids who have suffered a loss. My loyal clients create the opportunity for me to do that.

This Christmas I donated four bicycles to the Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive.  Tamara Sylvan told me there was a distinct need for ages 10 and up, so I purchased two appropriate for 10-year-olds and two larger ones for older ages. Tamara told me when she delivered two of them, the children receiving them screamed with delight.

I am hoping to be able to make even more children scream with delight at Christmas 2021.

Chip’s Charities: Don Vally Refugees Resettlers

Chip’s Charities

As a Realtor®, I believe in giving back to the community. I decided, when I started my career, to donate a portion of each sale to a local charity. I recently sold a home on Dunview Avenue in Willowdale. I have made a donation from this sale to the Don Valley Refugee Resettlers (DVRR).

I have been a member of Don Valley Refugee Resettlers since 2015.

I think of home as a refuge, but sadly, for many displaced persons, they haven’t had a real home for 5 years or more. DVRR has helped over 60 people from 15 families in the last 20 years make Toronto their home.

The Don Valley Refugee Resettlers (DVRR) is a group of people who are dedicated to helping refugees who are new to Canada find their way in this new foreign land.

The individuals on the board represent a number of supporting local churches including:

Bayview United
Cummer Avenue United
Forest Grove United
Lansing United
St. George on Yonge Anglican
St. Theodore of Canterbury Anglican
Taiwanese United
Willowdale United

Each family sponsored by DVRR gets a monthly stipend to cover living expenses, furniture and household goods, and personal assistance with acclimating to our country and culture. Children are enrolled in school and parents usually in ESL classes. After the year is over, they are expected to be self-sufficient, contributing members of Canadian society.

A refugee who has been able to escape a life-threatening situation, cross borders at great risk, spend months, sometimes years, in a camp and who finally comes to Canada can, understandably, describe their arrival here as a miracle. DVRR has participated in 61 miracles, so far. I am pleased to be able to help to create some more.

Go to for more information

– Chip Barkel, MCNE, SRES, REDM, Toronto Real Estate. Extraordinary Service. Top Results. 

CHIP’s Charities: Halton Women’s Place

CHIPs CHARITIES: Halton Women's Place

Halton Womens PlaceAs a Realtor®, I believe in giving back to the community. I decided, when I started my career, to donate a portion of each sale to a local charity. I recently found a buyer for a 1950s Elizabeth Gardens bungalow in Burlington. I have made a donation from this sale to Halton Women’s Place.

I think of home as a refuge, but sadly, for many, that is not the case. Not everyone experiences a peaceful home life: domestic violence, both physical and emotional is a very real issue for many people. Living with an abusive partner or parent is painful and dangerous, and more importantly, unnecessary.

Fortunately, help is available in the form of places like Halton Women’s Place. It’s sad that there is a need for a place like Halton Women’s Place, but thank goodness they are there.

Halton Women’s Place provides a safe haven, information, and education to support a future without abuse for women and their children. They started in Milton in 1978 and subsequently, opened a second facility in Burlington. They operate 52 beds for women and children. Sadly, they have operated at or close to capacity, right from the beginning. Halton Women’s Place provides a wide range of services for both women who choose to leave their situation, and those who do not, including crisis telephone lines; counseling; court support assistance for those involved in litigation related to family abuse, whether it is moral support, or help in understanding the court process and paperwork; transitional support for clients leaving the shelter, but still needing counseling support; safe shelter (including meals and basic personal items); departure planning; recreational activities to meet the needs of both pre-school and school-aged children; and referrals to third party agencies. They even have a SafePet program, in conjunction with the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, where pets are boarded at local veterinary clinics temporarily.

Halton Women’s Place is the only women’s shelter in the region and are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All services are non-judgmental and supportive.

For those wishing to help, donations of cash, gift cards for grocery or big-box stores, non-perishable food items, crafts for kids, new baby items like strollers, car seats, or clothing (health regulations prevent donation of used baby furniture) are always welcome and needed. or 905-332-1200 Crisis lines: 905-878-8555 & 905-332-7892

– Chip Barkel, MCNE, SRES, Toronto Real Estate. Extraordinary Service. Top Results.

CHIP’sCHARITIES: St. George on Yonge Anglican Church

St. George on Yonge Anglican
St. George on Yonge Anglican

St. George on Yonge Anglican

Making the decision to sell a family home is often a difficult one. Sometimes people find themselves with a home that needs a significant amount of work and the land is worth more than the house itself.  Even if money is available to make repairs, it often just doesn’t make good sense. Deciding to sell, knowing another family will live there is hard enough, but deciding to sell, knowing that the house has outlived its useful life and will be bulldozed and replaced, can be even more difficult

A Willowdale Anglican church faced the same predicament a few years back. St George on Yonge’s 1956 red brick church was cramped, damp, in constant need of repair, and mould was an issue. The City of North York had transformed in fifty-plus years. The church was no longer an out-of-the-way suburban location, but on a vibrant urban Toronto main street. It took several years and much angst, but the congregation decided to sell a portion of its valuable Yonge Street land and replace the aging structure with a brand new house of worship.  It meant vacating for two years during construction, but the new church is better than ever. The new Yonge Street presence has injected renewed energy into the congregation.

I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between what this church faced and homeowners facing the same decision, especially when Mom or Dad stayed on in the family home into their elder years and the children had moved to a distant city. Losing a parent and then letting go of the family home can tug at the heartstrings. You know every nook and cranny of that house – good and bad. It’s not just a house made of bricks and mortar. It’s your home. Losing Mom and Dad was one thing, but losing the touchstone to them is quite another

As a Realtor®, I believe in giving back to the community. I decided, when I started my career, to donate a portion of each sale to a local charity. When I recently sold a 1955 Willowdale bungalow, which was just such an estate sale, I decided it would be fitting to earmark this donation for St. George on Yonge. Like many homeowners who build, the cost of building exceeded the budget and the church has a small mortgage.

When I shared my intention with my client, I learned the late original owner, Doreen Browning Rawlings, had been a tireless member of the St. George’s congregation, so the circle is complete. I would like to think Doreen would be pleased that she is still giving back to her new church.