In 1965, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Toronto section, pioneered the Creative Living Program as a dynamic program for seniors who could plan and direct their own activities with the assistance of volunteers of the NCJW. After eight successful years, in 1973, the program was renamed the Centre for Creative Living. The centre moved to its present location at 1003 Steeles Ave. West in 1982. The building was renamed The Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living, in memory of Bernard Betel, whose family made a significant financial contribution towards the construction of the building. The centre leases the land from the City of Toronto at a cost of $2 per annum. The lease expires in 2022.
In 1983, the centre established the Russian Golden Age Club in response to a demonstrated need for the Russian-speaking community. In 1985, the centre received funding from the Ministry of Health to operate the La’Briyut Wellness Centre. Today the La’Briyut Wellness Centre is our Health Promotion department with fitness classes, and various wellness and health promotion programs and events, including the chiropody clinic. In 1987, the centre received funding from the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services to provide community support services. In 1989, the ETROG Club (Hebrew-speaking club) was established.
In 1997, the community support services department expanded to offer service to the Russian-speaking senior community. This year, was also the introduction of the At-Home Respite Care program, the only volunteer program of its kind in Toronto. In 2001, the chiropody clinic expanded from ½ day to 2 days per week, and in 2004 expanded again to 3 days per week. Today, the chiropody clinic offers services to seniors 5 days per week.
In 2003, the centre received significant funds for renovations and the creation of our Computer Learning Centre. In 2005, the centre became part of the Central LHIN. In 2007, the centre was rebranded to the Bernard Betel Centre.
In 2015, the Bernard Betel Centre had its 50th anniversary, Celebrating 50 Years of Creative Living, rejoicing our past and present with a lens towards the future.
Today, the Bernard Betel Centre is a vibrant, growing, active centre, offering more than 120 programs each week to seniors in the community. Over 2,200 members, and many more non-members, participate year round in our special events, courses, volunteer opportunities and myriad other offerings. Many long-standing friendships have been formed because of the warm and welcoming environment the Bernard Betel Centre provides. We are proud of our history and are dedicated to ensuring our programs are vital and significant now, and into the future.