5 questions with non-profit leader Deanna Lentini of Fix the 6ix

Fix the 6ix is a grassroots organization that addresses poverty in Toronto. Launched by students at York University, Fix the 6ix’s philosophy is that Toronto belongs to everyone. The organization’s two major programs are: ReGiftcard, which invites people to donate new or partially used gift cards and distributing items purchased with those cards to Torontonians in need; and 100 for the Homies, an initiative created for Toronto Raptors fans to help feed the city’s homeless by collecting ticket stubs after every 100+ point home Raptors win and donating it to homeless shelter so they too can enjoy a free slice of pizza. 

When someone asks you what Fix the 6ix is all about, how do you explain it to them?

Fix the 6ix is a grassroots organization that addresses poverty in Toronto, our organization is trusteed by the charity West Neighbourhood House. I launched this as a pilot project at York University in 2016, with the idea for the ReGiftcard program. The idea was to collect new and partly-used gift cards, and pool them together to benefit the homeless community of Toronto. Since then the project and organization has grown, and we have two programs to support individuals experiencing homelessness using no-cost donation models.

Tell us about the motivation behind Fix the 6ix. What are you trying to achieve through your organization?

Fix the 6ix is rooted in the philosophy that Toronto belongs equally to everyone, and that much is to be gained by supporting all individuals who call the 6ix ‘home.’ Our social mission is to Humanize Homelessness. We are working to share stories of the homeless community of Toronto to inspire a new understanding of those experiencing homelessness. We are trying to reframe the narratives around poverty in Toronto, and advocating for the homeless community to help Toronto understand that wealth does not determine worth.

Since the launch of Fix the 6ix, what has been the most exciting part about running this organization?

The most exciting part for me is getting to speak to people at the tabling events across the city, and seeing people believe in what we do. My biggest success is seeing people understand that humanizing homelessness is important. When people donate or purchase our apparel, it is showing me that people want to Fix the 6ix, that people want Toronto to be the best city that it can be. When people stop to check if they have gift cards to donate, or even when they donate gift cards that might be empty, I am over the moon. The concept that this little idea I had can get people to stop and think and give to help people in need – it floors me. That means the world to me.

What has been the most challenging part about running this organization?

The whole thing is a challenge. Grassroots movement has challenge written all over it because it is a start from scratch, get people to care and make things happen movement. It is dynamic and unpredictable and there are a lot of moving pieces. It doesn’t happen overnight – but in a sense, it does because you are up all night doing it. The ongoing and most difficult challenge for me is facing burn out and strenuous schedules. It is all volunteer work, so you don’t always have all the time you would like after school and work to work on Fix the 6ix.

When you see the lives of people living in poverty impacted by your work, how does that make you feel?

I wouldn’t say it makes me feel good. I would say it makes me feel like the work I do matters and that I matter. My work on Fix the 6ix doesn’t necessarily make me feel ‘good’ because the reason I am spending all hours starting an organization is a sad one, because poverty in Toronto is a problem for too many of our neighbours. The work I do is hard and sometimes it is sad. I would say that my work makes me feel like I matter because I am doing something important and meaningful. I am doing work that is unique and heartfelt and something that only I can do. It makes me feel like I matter because I’m honestly giving everything I have inside me for people who need help, and that is important to me.




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