Brazil & Portugal  


Abrigo Centre continues to make connections during the pandemic

Programs Updates

By  Ed Graça | Published 8/06/2020

The doors to the Abrigo Centre temporarily closed in mid-March but every day staff members continue to work from home to connect people to possibilities. That phrase captures the essence of our work, giving people information and options and letting them decide how to proceed.

The changes

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way our agency works, for now. However, it has not changed the incredible impact we make on our clients and the community. For more than three months now, staff members have worked remotely from home in order to stop the spread and keep everyone as safe as possible. Providing counselling sessions or assisting newcomers over the phone has simply become the norm.


The transition to working remotely was not without its challenges. New laptops needed to be purchased for some staff members and we all needed our computers to be configured to work from home. Throughout it all, the process was relatively smooth and it is essential to point out that Abrigo staff did an incredible job throughout this transition and for that, I am extremely proud of the team.

Weekday on-site Open Intake Program

Our old weekday on-site Open Intake program from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. has now transitioned to a Virtual Intake over the phone from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. New clients can call 416-534-3434 and one of our skilled staff members will return your call as soon as possible.

Community Development and Integration and Violence Against Women Programs

Clients in our Community Development and Integration and Violence Against Women programs are meeting as scheduled with their counsellors over the phone. What became clear early in March was that many in our community were worried about how to make ends meet after losing a job. Many who suddenly found themselves out of work  and living with low English literacy levels needed assistance to sign up for government assistance programs. Women continue to be worried about their personal safety and that of their children as days in isolation turned to weeks and months with an abusive spouse. Many others have simply been worried all this time about getting sick from the virus.

Partner Assault Response (PAR) program

Abrigo’s Partner Assault Response (PAR) program postponed all in-person group activities until further notice. Participants who started the program in March are receiving individual one-on-one telephone sessions at this time and many have since graduated. As a continued priority, victims or partners are receiving counselling via the telephone on a regular basis.

Seniors Program

Our dynamic seniors program has also been on hold since mid-March. This has been one of the most heartbreaking results of the pandemic. Many seniors in our Life and Hope Educational and Recreational group live alone and rely on the companionship of their peers to get through the difficult times they face. Their happy chatter, laughter, singing and dancing was silenced by an invisible menace. However, a new “by invitation only” Facebook group has created to replace in-person activities. All members get regular check-in calls from staff members or an inspiring array of volunteers form the community. We are truly grateful for their assistance but hope that a safe return to face-to-face group activities takes place soon.

Delivering outstanding service will remain a priority for us with special attention paid to our most vulnerable clients. Our agency appreciates your support and patience as we navigate through this difficult time.

If you would like more information about Abrigo or make a donation, you can do so safely and securely at our website

Please continue to monitor your health, stay safe and stay in touch if you need assistance. Through it all, we will continue to connect people to possibilities. Please call us if you need assistance during these unprecedented times, it will be our pleasure to assist you.



Digital platform created by Discover magazine to connect, integrate and support the Portuguese speaking community  in Canada during and after the pandemic. Learn more:


Ed Graça

Graça has been a social work professional since 1981 and the Executive Director of the Abrigo Centre for 28 of its 30 years serving the Portuguese speaking community of Toronto, those living in the GTA and all residents of west Toronto.

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