"It broke my heart to see refugees were not being welcomed and I longed to do something about it."
— Anne Woolger, Founder & Executive Director
THE MATTHEW HOUSE STORY
Matthew House grew out of the vision of its founder and current director, Anne Woolger, who had worked for many years at a city-run shelter for refugees in Toronto. There, her eyes were opened to the plight of refugee claimants who were arriving in Canada seeking asylum as refugees but had no place to stay. Recognizing the need for caring shelters geared specifically toward the unique settlement needs of refugee claimants, Anne approached her denominational leaders and shared her vision of establishing a Christian-based reception home that would provide a warm welcome for refugee claimants in a caring home-like setting.
In 1992, a Board of Directors was formed and Matthew House was incorporated as a non-profit charity. Four years later in October 1996, Anne, appointed as the first director, was mandated to find and establish a permanent home for the refugee ministry. Since opening in 1998, over 1,300 refugees from 88 different nations have been warmly welcomed by caring volunteers and staff who provide the residents help with all their settlement needs, including assistance with paperwork, preparing for the refugee hearing, orientation to Canada, connection with social services and finding and furnishing apartments with donated furniture. Matthew House receives very little direct government support but exists simply through the generosity of individuals, churches, and foundations that care about the plight of refugees.
Matthew House Toronto has expanded from having just one main shelter to having two additional homes that provide second-stage transitional housing for the most vulnerable refugees who pass through its doors. In all three of its homes, Matthew House continues to fulfill its mission of providing expert settlement support to refugees in beautiful, family-like homes where their dignity and hope are restored.
Matthew House has also been a catalyst behind the establishment of more than half a dozen other refugee shelters across Canada ( some by the same name) based on the Matthew House Toronto model.
Matthew House welcomes newly arrived refugees with God’s love by providing safe shelter, settlement assistance and bridges into the community while inspiring others through its replicable model and its advocacy.
Our Core Values
Operating out of a Christian faith, we trust in a God who cares and provides for His people. As such, we value prayer and regularly communicate to God our thanks and requests, relying on Him in all circumstances.
We believe that each person is created in the image of God, and, therefore sacred. From this conviction we seek to respect, and to protect, the value and dignity of each person staying at Matthew House regardless of their race, religion or political opinion, as well as those we work alongside.
We recognize that people have physical, spiritual and emotional needs. As such, we value holistic ministry and seek to express that in how we help each person staying with us.
We value healthy community and work to develop one within Matthew House. We also build bridges with individuals and organizations on behalf of our residents, so that they may continue to experience healthy community beyond their lives at Matthew House.
We seek to continually develop and upgrade our skills, operations, systems and working environment. We strive to have integrity, professionalism and transparency in all that we do, using our gifts and resources in ways that honour and glorify God.