Community shows support for co-working space in east end Toronto after break-in
People are donating toys, buying day passes to The Workaround after interior wall smashed
Residents of Toronto's east end are rallying behind a local small business that was broken into only days before it was set to reopen with expanded child care.
The Workaround, a shared workspace that provides child-care services on site, sustained significant damage in the break-in discovered last Friday. The parent-friendly co-working space is at the corner of Danforth and Woodbine avenues in an old bank building.
Someone broke the front door lock and hacked away at a supporting brick wall in its brand new child-care room. A large hole has been smashed in the wall. Bricks and drywall were damaged and pieces left on the floor. Metal beams were torn.
Amanda Munday, CEO and sole owner of the Workaround, says the break-in has left her feeling "violated," but she has asked for help online and says the response from the community has been overwhelming. She is still baffled as to why someone would want to break into a child care space.
"The community has rallied," Munday told CBC Radio's Here and Now on Monday. "We've had a lot of social media support. We've had some people amplifying the message. It's just really lovely to know overall the world is good."
Munday was told that anything the staff couldn't sterilize properly, including toys made of wood or those that used batteries, had to be thrown out as a precaution because of the dust left behind by the old brick, plaster and lath walls that were severely damaged.
Now, people in the surrounding community are donating gently used wooden toys for infants and preschoolers, buying $15-day passes to use the space and purchasing new toys through an Amazon baby registry set up after the break-in.
More than 150 day passes have been sold, which means the business has enough money for a new exterior door, Munday says.
'We're upset. We're vulnerable. We're mad'
The Workaround, open since October 2018, was to have its grand reopening this Wednesday and Munday says dealing with the fallout from the break-in has been exhausting. The business was renovated recently to add more child-care spaces.
"This isn't a small sweep up the glass and move on," she said.
"I'm emotional about it. I'm devastated. I'm a small business owner. This is financially backed by loans and sales. That's it. There aren't investors. There's no venture capital. It's really reliant on month to month sales. We just undertook an expensive renovation that I haven't paid for yet. I have three staff. I'm not going to lay anybody off, so it's just cost after cost," she added.
"We're upset. We're vulnerable. We're mad."
Munday said she wonders why the people broke into her business, did they get what they were working for, and are they going to come back. "It feels very intentional and we don't have answers and it's a child-care space."
The new childcare room is closed indefinitely and its day care space will move back to its lower level childcare room.
Const. Jen Sidhu, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said investigators believe The Workaround was not the intended target but that people who broke into the business were actually trying to enter the building next door.
"The way the break and enter was committed, it was very thought out and absolutely destroyed the interior of the day care. It's very sad, it's very unfortunate and it's very brazen," Sidhu said.
"It caused a hardship for the consumers and the owners."
Engineer has to determine if room structurally sound
Munday, meanwhile, said she was to wait for a report from an engineer as to whether the room is structurally sound, the brick has to be reconstructed, new drywall has to be added, the walls have to be painted and then she can reopen.
"I just want to reset the universe. I want people to be able to use the space. I don't want people to be afraid to come here and I want to go back to supporting parents," she said.
On a happier note, Munday said about the break-in in an email linked to Twitter: "It's another barrier in the path of proving accessible, wait-list-free childcare with parents working on site is possible. They might have slowed me down, but they have hardly stopped us."
Dear internet, something terrible happened to my friend Amanda's small business. Her parent-friendly co-working space, <a href="https://twitter.com/TheWorkaround?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheWorkaround</a>, was broken into. It was smashed up really badly. We're talking structural damage to the brick foundation. Amanda needs our help. <a href="https://t.co/VtjJGevwAH">pic.twitter.com/VtjJGevwAH</a>—@AverySwartz
With files from Natalie Kalata, Here and Now, Muriel Draaisma