Brazil & Portugal  


Rama Toronto East Volunteers Turn Time into Treasure

In today’s fast-paced world, one of life’s most precious commodities is time. People keep it, lose it, use it to simmer over a decision and often, we take it for granted. The one thing an inordinate number of individuals do not do is, share it.

by Gerry Luciano, Manager, Fundraising and Communications | December 8, 2022

That’s why Abrigo Centre volunteers who donate their time to the agency’s charitable gaming initiative at Rama Gaming House Toronto East are so cherished. The gift of their time translates to valuable fundraising dollars returning to our organization.




(photo) Ed Graça, Abrigo Centre’s Executive Director   


Our participation in the Rama Toronto East charitable gaming program makes a huge difference for Abrigo clients in our Life and Hope seniors’ program,” says Ed Graça, the agency’s Executive Director. “The financial support derived from their efforts helps to pay our monthly rent for their space on our second floor and has led to massive program improvements. Rama funds help with the procurement of food for our seniors’ lunches. Our new commercial dishwasher was funded in part because of our c-gaming volunteering and a new exhaust fan and safety system was purchased for the gas stove that helps cook the seniors’ meals.”

All of this would not have been possible without the efforts of Abrigo’s team of 15 committed volunteers and the generosity of the leadership team at Rama Toronto East and the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association (OCGA).


Abrigo volunteers and signage greet visitors at Rama Toronto East.


Abrigo initial involvement with Rama began back in the summer of 2019 at the suggestion of former Toronto Deputy Mayor, Davenport City Councillor, and friend of Abrigo Ana Bailao  ( photo). Abrigo had never participated in a program like this before. After meeting with the c-gaming team at the City of Toronto and completing the detailed application process, Abrigo was approved. A team of volunteers was recruited, polo shirts ordered, training completed and a schedule of dates to work shared. It was an exciting time and our volunteers loved the initial experience.

Needless to say, Abrigo’s participation was cut short after only a few months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did the loss of anticipated revenue hurt, the extended time away during the provincial shutdowns saw a number of Abrigo volunteers step away from donating their time. Our agency was certainly not alone in this experience and it has been a slow process to rebuild the team.

The chair of Abrigo’s Board of Directors, Lena Barreto (left) with the Consul General of Portugal in Toronto, Sofia Batalha (middle) and Abrigo’s VAW Counselling Team Leader, Cidalia Pereira (right).  


“Our current volunteers come from all walks of life, they really are the face of our community,” says Lena Barreto, Chair of Abrigo’s Board of Directors and a Rama volunteer herself.  “We have Board members, former Abrigo students, volunteers and clients on the team. Spouses of staff members as well. Each one of them has been touched by the incredible work Abrigo does on a daily basis around gender-based violence, youth outreach and issues like food and income insecurity for the Portuguese-language community and those living in the west-end of Toronto. The funds we receive from Rama Toronto East make a big difference for our agency and we could not be more thankful for the partnership we have with them and their wonderful support.”

As 2022 approaches its natural conclusion, it will be remembered as year of rebirth and growth for our agency at Rama Toronto East. Despite the challenges the pandemic presented in the past, the connection between participating charities and Rama was never lost. That was in large part due to the leadership and expert coordination efforts by Rama Charity Coordinator Maxine Doucette and the OCGA. We thank Ms. Doucette for her wonderful direction during uncertain times and her continued guidance today.

Abrigo looks forward to continuing its partnership in 2023 and providing more of its volunteers’ valuable time to serve and assist the guests at Rama Gaming House Toronto East.

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The summer issue of DISCOVER magazine is available on our website.


Gerry Luciano

Luciano has been the Abrigo Centre’s Manager of Fundraising and Communications for the last six years. He has an extensive background in both disciplines in the healthcare and social service sectors.

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