Those who knew Gordon, speak of him with great admiration and respect. Gordy, as he was fondly called, was a man of passion – passion for his family, camp, JF&CS and for the community in which he lived.
Gordy met his wife Linda at Camp Ogama during the summer of 1956. Little did Linda know at the time, that she would be spending the next 24 summers at camp, the last eleven of which were at Camp Wabikon which they owned and operated from 1969 – 1980. They were married in June of 1959 and were blessed with 3 wonderful children – Deborah, Michael and Carrie. In 1994, Michael and his wife, Beverley, became the parents of triplets—Samantha, Jake, and Amanda. Gordy was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
It was in 1967 that Gordy first began his professional involvement with Jewish Family and Child Service of Metropolitan Toronto when he was hired as a supervisor of Detached Youth Services. In his first year at the Agency, Gordy spearheaded an outreach program for youth resulting in the innovative Yorkville Trailer project. He made sure that hospitals and the police were educated in dealing with the problems of the hippies and alienated youth who gathered in this location. For the next six years, Gordy held a variety of positions—Supervisor of Youth Services in 1968, Supervisor of the Aged Program in 1972, and from 1971 to 1973, he supervised the North Branch at Bathurst and Lawrence.
In 1973, Gordy was appointed Executive Director of the Big Sister Association of Metropolitan Toronto, the first male worker in that organization. He introduced counselling for boys as well as girls, and the counselling agency of the Big Sister Association was named Huntley Youth Services (now known as Youth Link). Gordy remained the Executive Director until 1981 at which time he was hired as Executive Director of Jewish Family and Child Service.
It was under his leadership that JF&CS was able to usher in an era of expansion, opening new offices and creating innovative programs across the GTA.
Gordy was a visionary and brought to the agency new and controversial programs that targeted some of the most vulnerable members of the community – abused women and children. In 1984, JF&CS implemented Woman Abuse Services and in 1985, a Child Abuse Prevention Program. In addition to these programs, JF&CS expanded to York Region and offered a Jewish Hospice Program among other programs.
Gordy was a consultant for a number of agencies and organizations, and served on a variety of committees, Boards of Directors and task forces affecting children and families in Ontario. He was associated with the Ontario Welfare Council; C.M. Hinks Treatment Centre; Ontario Legal Aid; Youthdale Treatment Centres—to name a few.
In the 2001/2002 JF&CS Annual Report, Gordy wrote “Our tradition teaches that the measure of a community is how the community cares for its most needy members, those who are most vulnerable. We are directed to advocate for those who may be unable to advocate for themselves. When a need is identified, we are compelled to respond. Our tradition does not permit us to stand idly by. These teachings and values are embodied in the services and mission of Jewish Family & Child Service”.
In 2006, JF&CS named the downtown branch, “The Gordon Wolfe Branch”. At the dedication, Gordy said, “It is my hope that my name on the door will mean that JF&CS will continue its mission as the champion of those who have no champion.” In 2007, Gordy lost his courageous battle with cancer.
Establishing the Gordon S. Wolfe Legacy Society honours his memory and provides an opportunity for everyone to be a champion of JF&CS’s mission.