The Guildwood Village Community Association’s Communication Team has launched a special series called the Guildwood Village Community Hero in which the GVCA on its social media will feature community volunteers and their work.
A Guildwood resident for over 35 years (broken up by one six-year stint in Vancouver – she couldn’t stay away for long!), Allison Murray is a passionate community leader and organizer who has dedicated countless hours to engaging Guildwoodians in causes that strengthen our neighbourhood and the people in it.
In late 2015, Allison spearheaded the launch of the Guildwood Refugee Action Committee (GRACE) in response to the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq. After she placed a notice in News and Views about her plans to start the group, many members of the community and Church of the Holy Trinity Guildwood joined Allison to form a steering committee and volunteer their time and energy. Over the next two years, GRACE was overwhelmed with donations of furniture, winter clothes, money and assistance of all kinds for refugee families from neighbours throughout Guildwood and beyond, and the group raised enough funds to sponsor two families and a single man (a total of 10 people). GRACE has also advocated on behalf of a Nigerian woman who arrived in Canada in 2017 claiming asylum for herself and her three children.
An avid and expert gardener, Allison is also the lead of the Guildwood Butterflyway Project, an initiative of the David Suzuki Foundation that encourages communities to create “highways of habitat” for birds, bees and butterflies – the pollinators that are vital for maintaining our ecosystems. Originally focusing on supporting monarch butterflies, a threatened species that passes through Guildwood each year along its migratory route, the Butterflyway group has since expanded to promote the importance of planting native plants, which are critical to biodiversity.
Allison now leads an army of “Butterflyway Rangers,” passionate gardeners throughout the Guild who are committed to planting for pollinators and educating the community. Although many Butterflyway events for 2020 have had to be cancelled, the group hopes to host a native plant sale in September.
Allison has also successfully advocated for the creation of a Guild Park volunteer team to work under the direction of City of Toronto staff maintaining the gardens. After two years of “checking in” with the City about her request, her idea was finally granted approval in June 2019. Last summer, a group of 10 volunteer gardeners focused on the west end of the property, weeding and cleaning up the beds near the Osterhout Cabin. This year, over 20 community members have volunteered to garden at Guild Park but plans have been put on hold due to COVID-19.
This past January, Allison also launched and hosted the Guildwood Community Climate Conversation, a special event attended by around 40 Guildwood residents who shared ideas about local solutions for combating climate change. It was out of this event that the new Green Guildwood group emerged.
Allison says that her experiences leading a range of community initiatives over the years have underscored for her the generosity of her neighbours. “I take the most pride in the residents of Guildwood, who confirmed my belief that our community is full of good people who care about people and nature and important issues, and are willing to volunteer their time and energy to make our community (and our world) a better place,” she says.
Allison is grateful to have been named a Guildwood Village Community Hero and would like to use this opportunity to thank the steering committee members and many volunteers who have been integral to the success of GRACE and Guildwood Butterflyway.
If you’d like to nominate someone for this new series, send an email with the person’s name and description to firstname.lastname@example.org