Our History

Romero House came to life in 1991 when a small group of people, including several refugee families, took over a refugee shelter threatened with closure. They had a unique idea: that newly arrived refugee families could live together with others seeking to be a community. They lived together in a spirit of trust, interacting as neighbours rather than clients and settlement workers. They had no plan, no sense of what their little experiment would become.

Over the past 30 years, Romero House has grown beyond what was ever imagined. Dive into the story of Romero House with some of our founders and long time community members.

What We Do

Romero House provides comprehensive support to refugee families who live in our houses and who come to our walk-in program. Some of our primary activities include:

  • Transitional Housing
    We offer transitional housing and wrap around support for one year to 10 newly arrived refugee families
  • Settlement Support
    We accompany families in accessing education, income assistance, employment, food security, and health care
  • Legal Support
    We offer support in navigating the refugee determination system and accessing quality legal representation
  • Food Security
    We work with local partners to provide weekly food hampers and care for our community garden
  • Community
    We offer regular programs for adults and children, including a whole lot of celebrations
  • Clothing
    We provide gently used seasonal clothing and various household items in the Romero House Boutique

Meet Our Team

In addition to our wonderful permanent staff team, Romero House is held up by a team of generous workers who commit one or two years of their lives to living and serving in community. This year Romero House has welcomed six workers, half of whom have stuck around from last year. The workers, together with our staff of Mary Jo, Jenn McIntyre, Jenn Stephenson, John, Ann, and a dedicated group of volunteers, continue to support and build the ever-growing community of Romero House

Francesca Allodi-Ross

Francesca Allodi-Ross

Executive Director

Francesca has been part of the Romero community for more than 15 years. She started as Executive Director in 2022, bringing experience in frontline social service work, law, and facilitation. She loves dancing and singing and is grateful that this community celebrates both.

Mary Jo Leddy

Mary Jo Leddy

Founder

Renowned for her creative use of leftovers in making delicious meals, and her dedication to our neighborhood. She is a social activist, teacher, and writer, whose long term commitment to Romero House has formed the foundation of this community.

Jenn Stephenson

Jenn Stephenson

Assistant Director

Our Assistant Director brings an extremely helpful enthusiasm for operational management and organization. She is our health and safety guru and knows far more about social media than anyone else on the team.

Ann Khatter

Ann Khatter

Bookkeeper

Our wonderful bookkeeper, is a bright light in our office, bringing with her a very welcome love of organizing our cluttered spaces.

Amelia Marfisi

Amelia Marfisi

Worker

Returning to Romero for her second year, Amelia is from Guelph, ON. She loves spending her free time outside, especially anywhere near the Lakeshore. Amelia is the Communications Coordinator at Romero House.

Elaina Mohr

Elaina Mohr

Worker

We are welcoming Elaina as a first year worker. She is from Grimsby, ON. Elaina has enthusiastically stepped into the role of Housing Worker. She is also on the intake team.

Sarah Buisman

Sarah Buisman

Worker

  Sarah is joining us for her first year from Guelph, ON. She loves music and dreams of starting a Romero House choir. Sarah is the very organized volunteer coordinator.

Laura Friesen

Laura Friesen

Worker

Second-timer at Romero from Grimsby, ON. Laura is an avid dancer and music lover. Laura is our Food Security Coordinator and on the Centre intake team.

Robbie Arzumanov

Robbie Arzumanov

Community Services Coordinator

Robbie is from Georgia and is taking on a new role at Romero House. He is excited to continue to share his Georgian food recipes with the Romero community.

Sayan Das

Sayan Das

Worker

Sayan is from India and is returning to Romero for a third year. He is our resident jokester and lover of all things Canada (except maybe the winter weather). Sayan is the coordinator of the intake program.

Robelin Severino

Robelin Severino

Maintenance Manager

Our Buildings and Maintenance Manager Robelin brings amazing enthusiasm to Romero House while keeping our houses in great shape. He loves to make music, is a talented bachata dancer and a great cook!