February 23, 2022
As a funeral and cemetery provider, we understand how devastating the pandemic has been on GTA communities. We see firsthand when our neighbours are struggling, and the last two years have made that clearer than ever. “Food insecurity,” a term used to describe a family or individual’s inability to rely on where their next meals will come from, has become a critical challenge across our communities. In 2021 we committed to giving back to fight this hidden crisis, and we're proud to continue that contribution in 2022. Many food banks have seen the need for their services double, triple or even quadruple during the pandemic. Meanwhile, they are also dealing with additional challenges like fewer volunteers, complexities associated with social distancing and increased costs for PPE and other protective equipment. These issues remain just as pressing as they were in 2021, so for a second year in a row we're donating $270,000 to local food banks. Thirty-six food banks will receive $7,500 each to help them meet the need for their services in their local communities - the full list of organizations is available at the bottom of this page. One such example is Weston Area Emergency Support, which saw an average of 660 visits each month prior to the pandemic. By March of 2021, they were averaging more than 2,200 and that upward trend has continued into 2022. Not only has there been an increase in visits, but the demographics accessing food have also evolved. Prior to COVID about 49% of the households supported were single individuals. That demographic now represents about 35% while families, many multigenerational, are now the biggest household type, and the percentage of seniors seeking support has doubled from 8% to 16%. Wherever possible, donations will be hand delivered safely to food banks by staff from the local Mount Pleasant Group cemetery or funeral home. At the end of the day, we believe that neighbours don’t let neighbours go hungry. We are proud to contribute to such remarkable organizations in our community, and humbled by the dedication of their staff. “COVID brought massive challenges to our community and our food bank. And while we’re all tired of the pandemic, the increased need we are seeing at the Weston Area Emergency Support food bank is not going away. We are grateful for the support of Mount Pleasant Group and of our community, which continues to provide invaluable support to our food bank.” - Diana Stapleton, Chair Weston Area Emergency Support
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Find a food bank near you: feedontario.ca/about-us/find-a-food-bank/#map

FOOD BANK LOCATION
Salvation Army Food Bank Oshawa 45 King St. E, Oshawa, ON L1H 1B2
Feed the Need 371A Marwood Drive, Oshawa, ON L1H 7P8
Salvation Army Food Bank Ajax 122 Hunt St., Ajax, ON  L1S 1P5
St. Paul’s On-The-Hill Food Bank 1537 Pickering Pkwy, Pickering, ON L1V 6W8
Aurora Food Pantry 350 Industrial Pkwy, S., Aurora, ON L4G 3V7
Newmarket Food Pantry 1251 Gorham Rd. Unit 8, Newmarket, ON L3Y 8Y6
Richmond Hill Food Pantry 55 Newkirk Rd., Richmond Hill, ON L4C 3G4
ANIDA (All Nations International Development Agency) 4401 Steeles Avenue West, Toronto, ON M3N 2S4
The Vaughan Food Bank 5732 Hwy#7 Unit 3 & 4, Woodbridge, ON L4L 3A2
Humanity First Canada 600 Bowes Rd., Concord, ON L4K 4A3
SEVA Food Bank Malton 2832 Slough St., Mississauga, ON L4T 1G3
Knights Table of Peel 287 Glidden Rd Unit 4, Brampton, ON L6W 1H9
St. Mary's Food Bank 6341 Mississauga Rd., Mississauga, ON L5N 1A5
St. James Food Basket 400 Burnhamthorpe Rd., Toronto, ON   M9B 2A8
SEVA Food Bank Wolfdale 2832 Slough St., Mississauga, ON L4T 1G3
The Mississauga Food Bank 3121 Universal Drive, Mississauga ON, L4X 2E2
Churches on the Hill Food Bank 230 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M4V 1R5
Salvation Army Bloor Central Food Bank 789 Dovercourt Rd., Toronto, ON M6H 2X4
Thorncliffe Food Bank 1 Leaside Pk Drive Unit 5B, Toronto, ON, M4H 1R1
Fort York Food Bank 380 College Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1S6
Allan Gardens Food Bank 353 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON M5A 2S3
St. Ann Food Bank 120 First Avenue, Toronto, ON M4M 1X1
Malvern Food Bank 4548 Sheppard Ave E., Scarborough, ON M1S 1V2
Kennedy Eglinton Food Bank 157 Byng Avenue, Scarborough, ON M1L 3P3
Warden Avenue Food Bank 20 Gilder Drive, Scarborough, ON M1K 5E1
Weston Area Emergency Support 1 King St, Weston, ON M9N 1K8
The Stop P.O. Box 69, Stn. E., Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1
Parkdale Community Food Bank 1499 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, M6R 1A3
Salvation Army - Yorkminster Citadel 1 Lord Seaton Rd., Toronto ON M2P 2C1
Salvation Army North Toronto Community Church 42 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M4P 1A6
Salvation Army - North York Temple 25 Centre Ave N., North York ON, M2M 2L4
Community Share 33 Overland Dr., North York, ON M3C 2C3
Flemingdon Food Bank 10 Gateway Blvd, North York, ON M3C 3A1
Lawrence Heights, North York Harvest Community Food Space 116 Industry St., North York ON M6M 4L8
Bathurst-Finch Community Food Bank 116 Industry St., North York ON M6M 4L8
Society For The Living Food Bank 274 Eddystone Ave, North York  M3N 1H7
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September 09, 2021
As long as people have mourned, others have stepped in to support them. But the way we mourn is always changing, and so the support has evolved along side it. At Mount Pleasant Group, our funeral directors and their teams embody that support. They work on the front lines of compassionate care, and the memorials they create have helped set us apart as an organization. Here, we’ll take a look at how the role has changed over time as the attributes and qualities that contribute to their work. Historic Undertakings In the west, the earliest incarnation of the profession that would come to be known as the funeral director was the undertaker, a role that still exists in many countries around the world. We can trace the title back to the 15th century as “funeral-undertaker,” a literal description that shortened over time. Often a carpenter or furniture maker would realize that requests for coffins were making up a considerable portion of their business. They would have access to cart large enough to transport their products, so could easily extend their services to the coffin’s delivery, and then to the transport of the remains to the cemetery. In larger communities, this could become a full-time occupation. But beyond the logistical assistance, most of the coordination of the service itself still fell to the family and priest. The classic depiction of the undertaker, somber, reserved and silent, reflects this hands-off nature: they were expected to be respectful and available to fulfil their duties, but not to offer comfort or support. As visitations and the other non-religious aspects of the funeral service moved out of the family home and into the funeral home during the 18th century, the undertaker took on a larger role, becoming the custodian of the remains at every step of the process. Storage of the body before burial, embalming, and other necessary preparation required specialized skills and tools, and over time, the undertaker’s contribution shifted from craftsman to facilitator. In many ways, the early evolution of the role mirrors the changes we see today: reflecting and accommodating the needs of the family as they arise, and taking on necessary duties that would allow the family to fully grieve and commemorate their loved one. “Undertaker” became “mortician” at the end of 19th century as the profession shifted along with many others to appear more clinical. Around the same time, “coffin” became “casket,” a phrase that remains in common use today. The mechanisms of a funeral grew ever more complex as the 20th century dawned. Families would need to navigate a wide array medical and legal processes during a time of mourning, and so would increasingly rely on expert guidance. In other words, they needed direction. One Role, Countless Skills Throughout much of the 20th century, that direction was largely one-way: prescriptive advice that would orchestrate the funeral with relatively minimal input from the family. Today the role is far more collaborative. Just as skill with woodworking gave way to embalming, now a funeral director’s greatest assets include empathy and creativity. Listening to a family’s unique needs, then crafting a service that celebrates the life of the deceased requires that they wear many hats. Planning and logistics are still as important as ever, but so are audio-visual skills, negotiation, counselling and even interior design. The cliché of the stone-faced undertaker in stovepipe hat could not be farther from reality today. Funeral directors are people from all walks of life who share an ability to connect with families in difficult times. At Mount Pleasant Group, everyone on our funeral teams brings something unique. But there are qualities that all seem to possess: they’re flexible to respond to the many different ways families express grief. They have the organization skills required to coordinate complex events in narrow timeframes. They’re problem-solvers, thinkers, listeners and connectors. They’re emotionally attuned and resilient in times of stress. Making Memories So how do our funeral directors create remarkable services and memorials? Just as there isn’t a typical kind of funeral director today, there is no one-size-fits all formula. But our directors do take an approach that lets them craft unique experiences tailored to the life they’re celebrating. This process from the National Funeral Directors Association can be a useful framework for anyone supporting those dealing with grief. CONNECT: First, funeral directors take the time to understand the customer and build trust. Fostering an open dialogue will be critical to meeting the family’s needs. DISCOVERY: By asking carefully crafted questions, they seek to discover rich information about the life of the deceased. Learning about the moments, achievements and aspirations that defined the person being celebrated LEAD: Families are guided through the choices available and recommendations are provided based on what’s learned in the previous steps. While the family may have a vision of what they’d like, they may not be aware of all the possibilities. DESIGN: The personalized memorial is developed, whether a funeral service, a celebration of life, or an artistic tribute to the deceased. This is where the previous steps come to life. SUPPORT: Throughout the entire experience, the family is offered solace and compassion. They’re engaged with on their terms while their grief is acknowledged and supported. The role of the funeral director has never been static. The language itself has changed and will continue to do so. For example, the term “arranger” is now commonly used within the industry to cover many roles critical to creating services and memorials. There will undoubtedly be more changes to come, as religious services increasingly give way to the spiritual or simply celebrations of the deceased’s passions. Personalization is more of a priority than ever, and there’s no reason to think that will diminish tomorrow. Whatever funerals look like in the future, it will always be the people that make them truly exceptional.   This article first appeared in MPG's Year in Review 2020.
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September 09, 2021
The Elgin Mills east side expansion didn’t just add 34 acres of land and decades of use: it offered a unique opportunity for environmental innovation. Just like a park or greenspace, cemeteries are thirsty. Managing water effectively is key to keeping them verdant and healthy — and to ensure they’re good environmental neighbours. In designing the new property at Elgin Mills, we made sustainability a priority with two simple changes to the way we think about — and use — the most essential element of life. The “Waterless” Cemetery Though you may not realize it, underground water lines crisscross many of our cemeteries. They’re connected to a municipal water source with a meter, which works just like the ones you’ll find at any home or business. Unfortunately, we were seeing the effects of waste, whether from leaking pipes or taps accidentally left running. When those leaks happen underground, they can go undetected for quite a while, wasting water and creating soggy, unsightly patches along roads. We knew we could be more efficient. When designing the eastern expansion, we decided to tackle waste by creating our first “waterless” cemetery. That is, one with little to no below-ground water infrastructure for public use. Today all water used by visitors on the new property, whether to water flowers or give their dogs a drink, is supplied by self-serve, above-ground tanks refilled by water trucks. This lets us maintain close control over use and eliminate the need for disruptive maintenance to below-ground pipes. Now monitoring consumption is easier, and we’re able to choose where it comes from, whether from municipal sources or recycled from the property itself. It also means that our visitors and our teams are more mindful of the water they’re using every day. Exfiltration system   Storm Water Management, Naturally Most cemeteries direct rainwater runoff from roads and other elevated sections to flow into catch basins, then to below-ground storm water management pipes and finally to large on-site retention ponds. But for the east side expansion, we wanted an alternative that would preserve as much greenspace as possible. Along with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and the community of Richmond Hill, we designed a solution directly inspired by nature. By introducing new perforated pipes, we allow for some of the water to filter cleanly back into the ground. This significantly reduces the volume at the end of the pipe, and mimics the natural world where rainwater is absorbed where it falls. The remaining storm water is now discharged into a grassy meadow that separates the developed lands from the tributary of the Rouge River. Any remaining sediment is filtered and contained naturally, protecting the tributary and removing the need for a retaining pond. This has created a self-contained, sustainable ecosystem where the water either remains within the developed land itself or is treated by nature in the meadow. And it’s a simple blueprint for responsible development tomorrow.   This article first appeared in MPG's Year in Review 2020.
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