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Change in the air at Agapè Centre

A wave of change is in the air. On Tuesday February 12, 2019 the Ontario Association of Food Banks (O.A.F.B.) became FEED ONTARIO. Feed Ontario states that over the last 35 years, food banks have evolved from traditional food cupboards into multi-service agencies for community building and change. This exciting change has prompted the Agapè Centre to look internally at how we could better serve our community and be a sustainable organization.

In the last year, seven (7) new Board Directors have been added for a total of twelve (12) strong and capable individuals with a heart and passion for the Agapè Centre. One of the objectives of the Board is for the Agapè Centre to continue to serve our community by ensuring all have access to healthy food. Remaining transparent and accountable for all change within the Agapè Centre is imperative for the Board of Directors.

Since 1971, the Agapè Centre has evolved as an organization by including a Soup Kitchen and developing its own social enterprise – New for You Thrift Store. The Agapè Centre was established out of meeting a need in the community of Cornwall and stands on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights statement that ‘the right to food is a human right.’ In the last year, regulations for delivering some services have changed. The process has been streamlined, easing access to those in need of food bank services.

“What was once a lengthy intake has now been simplified to assure greater privacy, dignity and efficiency. We are pleased with how this will positively impact individuals seeking Agapè Centre services,” says Johanne Couture, Executive Director. “Ever cognizant that we rely on the generosity of the community, this also allows us to operate more sustainably and to ensure our continued viability.”

Even for the Agapè Centre, transformation is necessary to ensure individuals are served with the most respect and dignity while maintaining a high standard of efficiency, as we continue to evolve.

For more information on the services offered by the Agapè Centre, visit our website.

Agapè’s Pre-Valentine’s Day Bake Sale !

Wednesday February 13 Only! Until Supplies Last!!

Our 1st Annual Golf Tournament is happening soon!!!

Empty Bowls 2017

Thank you to everyone who joined us on November 12, 2017 at the Knights of Columbus!

And congratulations to our silent auction winners!!

All bowls were generously donated by 25 potters from the Country Harvest Pottery Show and Sale presented by Ann Marlin.

You can be our next Hunger Hero!

Do you want to be our next Hunger Hero? It’s easy…Gather your team of 4-6 people and sponsor a meal for $200. Your team will have the opportunity to prep and serve a delicious meal to the many individuals who are in need. Don’t have time to gather a team and come in to prep and serve? No problem, you can also be a Hunger Hero by simply sponsoring $200 for a meal. Contact us at 613-938-9297 ext. 25 or 27 or at info@agapecentre.ca for more information.

Thank You

A huge thank you to all of our Murder Mystery Dinner major sponsors.  Thanks to your generous sponsorship and the contributions from our many prize sponsors, we raised over ten thousand dollars!

Murder Mystery Fundraising Dinner

Do you like a good mystery? Do you like not having to cook dinner on a Friday night? If you answered yes, the Agapè has a wonderful event for you.  Join us on Friday, June 23rd at 6:00pm at the Best Western Parkway Inn & Conference Centre for our Murder Mystery Fundraising Dinner. Tickets are $60/each and are available at Scotiabank and the Agapè Centre. It promises to be an evening filled with fun, laughter and suspense!

Agapè’s new ED focused on collaboration

The Agapè Centre‘s board of directors is excited to announce they have hired Diane Plourde, who defines herself as a collaborator, to lead the organization, beginning October 3rd.

“I’m very team oriented and I think that with many people you can accomplish great things,” said Plourde. “I’m a believer in building networks.”

Plourde’s vision: to see the Agapè Centre as an agency that collaborates with everyone and is truly meeting the needs of anyone that has food insecurities.

“And maybe that’s in different ways than how it’s being done right now,” she said.

The Cornwallite is the founding Executive Director of Victim Services of SDG&A, and has worked there for the past 11 years. She sites setting up the agency from scratch as one of her biggest challenges and accomplishments to date.

“I started the program from a box of binders and went from 2 staff members and one program to 7 staff members and several programs,” she said.

Plourde says her first undertaking as Executive Director for the local food bank and soup kitchen will be to look to the community for their input.

“I have a vision for the Agapè Centre, but want to make sure it’s aligned with our community’s needs and plan on doing stakeholder consultations and an environmental scan to set an appropriate strategic direction for the agency” said Plourde. “I plan on consulting with all staff members, donors, clients and partner agencies, to see what is being done well, what may be improved, and what are some opportunities for growth.”

Jim Healey, chair of the Agapè Centre’s board of directors, stated that three key factors attracted the interview committee to select Plourde for the position: her proven leadership and experience to lead the next phase of development; she is fluently bilingual; and she has successfully worked collaboratively with other agencies.

“We believe Diane will use her collaborative skills to build relationships in the community as well as with staff and volunteers at the Agapè Centre,” said Healey. “We are excited to begin this new relationship and continue the much needed work in the community.”

Plourde is currently finishing a Master in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership at Carleton University, to complement her undergraduate degree in Psychology.

“At the base of many philanthropic actions is the issue of poverty, so that has opened up my eyes to this area of need.” she said.

Plourde says she was drawn to the position because she has seen the growing needs of people who are food insecure through her work with Victim Services.

“We see it first hand. Sometimes our responders visit the homes. We know that it’s there. Poverty is something that is real and touches upon so many things,” said Plourde. “I think that the Agapè Centre is a vital community service and would like to continue my professional journey by helping the agency reach its full potential.

The centre’s new director wants to look at facilitating connections between clients and partnering agencies to help better meet people’s needs.

“Meeting their needs for food is one thing. Maslow’s hierarchy shows that if you don’t tend to basic needs, if people are worried about eating tomorrow, they’re not going to get help for something they really need help with right now. But if they know that they have access to healthy food, then maybe they’ll feel strong enough, healthy enough to seek additional supports. Can we connect them and help them with that? Make services more accessible? I don’t know but it is worth exploring through consultations with our many stakeholders,” she said.

While the organization’s new leader is not planning on turning the Agapè Centre into an agency that ‘does everything’, she says she does want to explore enhanced collaborations.

Recognizing some of the criticism the charity has incurred over the years, Plourde wants to shed some insight and help change the public’s perspective by hosting an open house in the spring, inviting community members and agencies to see the great work that happens within the centre’s walls.

“I think people would appreciate being able to come in and see the work that goes into maintaining an operation like this. People hear a lot of things, some positive, some negative, some truthful, some less truthful, so I think the community needs the opportunity to come and see the great work that takes place and the demands of maintaining such essential services,” said Plourde. “I think that there’s a whole side of things that needs to be shown or that people don’t see.”

Previously, Diane Plourde spent 13 years at Job Zone d’emploi, and has worked in the field of addictions, probation services and has taught at St. Lawrence College.

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation

School’s out and the kids are savoring their holidays, but for many families in our community summer is one of the hardest times to keep food on the table.

Ask any food bank what time of year is their busiest for donations and they’ll tell you it’s December.

But hunger doesn’t happen just at Christmas.

Many low-income families rely on school meal programs to help their get children the nutrients they need to thrive. During the summer months, kids don’t have access to these programs so parents on low-income often struggle to be able to provide meals for their children.

Mathew, a father of three children, was recently laid off. Last week was the third time that he’s visited the Agapè Centre’s food bank.

“I was always working and now I’m laid off. It’s hard. It’s nice to get the extra help,” Matthew said.

The young father knows first-hand the particular strain of the added costs of the season.

“Kids love the fruits in the summer. They’re always hungry and more fruit is expensive on its own,” he said.

What does 1000 clients a month for the food bank look like?

We gave out over $15,000 worth of emergency food each month this June and July.

The summer months can be difficult for many families to keep food on their tables, so we’re faced with a higher need for services from families. But it’s also the time of year that we see a substantial drop in donations.

Over the summer, we see more children eating in the community kitchen.

During the month of April, 26 children were served meals in the community kitchen, but in the first month that school was out (part of June and part of July), 44 children lunch in our kitchen.

That’s an increase of 69%.

There are many ways to support your local food bank and soup kitchen, which services more than 1,000 people in our community. You can give fresh food from your garden, drop off a grocery store gift card or cash donation, or become a monthly donor.

We can issue tax receipts for any donation of $20 or more (cash or food or grocery gift cards with receipts).

What we really need right now is money for fresh produce. And if people have an aversion to giving cash, we are always happy to receive PC gift cards. The PC gift cards allow us to buy items like milk and eggs, which we don’t receive through normal donations.

The Agapè Centre spent $4,500 this past month on fresh foods alone, including potatoes, carrots, onions, milk and eggs.

We don’t want to be feeding bellies with empty calories. Low wealth is often correlated to low health, and we do not want to contribute to the costs of our health care system in the long run.

Our organization has been feeding people in need for over 40 years, and recent changes are making it easier to access services in a comfortable and dignified way.

“The upgrades at the food bank are great – I always feel welcome here. Don’t be ashamed when you actually do need the help,” said Mathew.