Toldo Foundation Gives a Lift to Connections Early Years Family Centre

Feb 15, 2022

Monday, December 20, Windsor, ON  Connections Early Years Family Centre is thrilled to receive a $200,000 funding commitment from the Toldo Foundation to cover the costs of installing an elevator. Connections, a non-profit organization that provides free programs and services for children 0 to 6 years old and their families, is renovating the centre as part of its “Building UP!” campaign to improve capacity and accessibility.

The Toldo Foundation has been a philanthropic leader dedicated to investments in the Windsor-Essex County community since its inception in 1996. “Today the Toldo Foundation is pleased to announce its commitment to Connections Early Years Family Centre,” said Alex Toldo, trustee of the Toldo Foundation. “We are excited about this new partnership and look forward to assisting them as they improve accessibility to the Connections facility and the breadth of their programs!”

Connections is the lead agency for several children’s health and developmental programs, such as the Talk 2 Me Preschool Speech & Language Program, the Infant Hearing Program and the Blind-Low Vision Early Intervention Program. It is also home to an EarlyON Centre and the region’s only free, short-term childcare program called Be Back Soon. Recently, Connections started a Caregiver-Mediated Early Years program through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), supporting parents with children 1 to 4 years old registered in the OAP. Over 15,000 individual children and adults accessed services through Connections in 2020.

Formerly known as St. Mary’s Family Learning Centre, Connections has been in the central Windsor area in a former church building since 1974. When faced with the decision to move and rebuild or to renovate the aging building, the agency opted to remain at Giles and Marentette. Since 2018, Connections has raised funds to widen doorways, install ramps, construct accessible washrooms, add therapy spaces and more.

“It was important to us to continue to be part of this neighbourhood and make our services accessible to everyone with young children,” says Barb Brown, Executive Director of Connections Early Years Family Centre. “Being able to install an elevator thanks to the Toldo Foundation is an incredible way to support local families. This will also have a profound impact on staff, volunteers and placement students at Connections.”

After three years of renovations to the building, Connections is in the last phase of its “Building UP!” campaign and perhaps the biggest undertaking: the creation of an accessible entrance. The plans include a three-stop elevator, interior ramps, barrier-free emergency exits and an expanded entrance with accessible service desk. The estimated cost of these activities is $1,035,000.

Connections Early Years Family Centre is committed to preserving its space and ensuring that it remains accessible for many community activities for years to come. If you wish to enquire about the “Building UP!” campaign, please visit the organization’s website at or call 519-252-9696.