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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.

New board members needed for dynamic and diverse leadership

With three board members ending their term, chair Jim Healey says they are looking for “a few good people” to re-energize the board.

“We need community members with a passion for helping the disadvantaged, especially around food security and social programs, to reenergize the board,” Healey said.

The board of directors is made up of volunteers who set the tone and direction for the local food bank and community kitchen, providing oversight, leadership and guidance.

Healey, in his 5th year as board member, is active in community events, fundraising initiatives, and is currently acting as Chair of the Board.

“For me, the issue of the working poor really touches me. There are people working but maybe at minimum wage, and they need a little leg up, a little help to get over the hump, and three or four days of food is sufficient to keep that family going,” he said.

Three directors have recently completed their term, and the team has already recruited one new member.

Rachel Larin, a mother of 2 young adults and a teenager, joins the board, offering a unique perspective as someone with lived experience.

With a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa, Larin has worked with the National Aboriginal Women’s Association as Director of Communications, as well as a manager at St. Lawrence Parks Commission, where her biggest legacy was the implementation of the 1-800 reservation system.

But in 2005 Larin fell on some hard times.

After a difficult separation, she was left with a lot of debt and full custody of her three children, and needed a little help from her community.

“I couldn’t make ends meet,” said Larin. “On paper it looked doable, but my reality was that I was struggling to maintain a full-time job and still afford to feed my kids.”

As someone who visited the Agapè Centre food bank for a period of time, Larin says she can understand what people who are using the services are going through, and hopes to bring the link between front line services and the executive level.

“I want to offer my input based on my personal experience and to help bring ideas from the front line to the table,” she said.

Larin has volunteered at the Agapè Centre with fundraising events and Christmas basket registration. During this process people shared their stories of struggle, and Larin was happy she could genuinely say ‘I understand, I’ve been there, how can I help?’

“I’m coming in at a time when there are so many changes and opportunities,” she said.

Larin brings experience in fundraising, grant application writing, strategic planning, and marketing and communications,

“In this role, I can hone my skills and pay it forward,” she said. “I’m hoping to make an impact and help move the organization forward.”

Board membership is comprised of up to 10 directors, including 4 executive roles. Each member can serve a total of six years consecutively (3-year term renewable once).

The team meets monthly 10 times a year, and its committees (fundraising; strategic planning; membership; governance; budget and finance) meet on an ad hoc basis.

Healey says serving on the board is a great opportunity to give back to the community and open your eyes to some of the social issues that exist here that we may not be aware of.

“This role certainly puts that right in your face,” he said.

The chair also noted that some great additions to the board might include people with backgrounds in areas like project management, accounting, nursing/medicine, dietician, social work or mental health field.

The board plans to enter into strategic planning process this fall, so interested community members are encouraged to submit an application by June 13 for consideration before the summer.

For more details on the role, click here: Board Member Job Description

Click here for  Board of Directors Application Form

For more information or to submit an application, please contact Jim Healey, Chair of the Board of Directors at jim@roadsigns.ca

Summer Student Job Position: Cooking Class and Gardening Coordinator

Job Position: Cooking Class and Gardening Coordinator

Summer Student Position

Terms:  June 13th to August 5th
35 hours per week
Languages: English, French would be an asset
$15.00 per hour

**Must be returning to studies full time in the fall.

 

Responsibilities:

  • Delivery of our Curious Chefs program
  • Work with the Volunteer Coordinator to establish and maintain the garden in conjunction with the volunteers.
  • Develop and deliver a small program in conjunction with the Curious Chefs program that introduces children to the joys of gardening.
  • Other tasks as required by Volunteer Coordinator/Operations Manager
  • Relief work in Community Kitchen on a part time basis

 

Requirements:

  • Must love working with children of various ages.
  • Experience leading groups of children.
  • Ability to teach/instruct both children and adults in hands-on learning environment.
  • Must have a passion for cooking and gardening.
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision and take initiative.
  • Trustworthy, organized, flexible and have a positive attitude.
  • Someone studying in the field of education would be an asset.

 

Please forward your resume and cover letter to Johanne Gauthier, Operations Manager at the Agapè Centre by bringing it to reception.

DEADLINE for applications:  May 27th, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Cooking and Gardening Coordinator Summer 2016printable job posting

Walk with us: Coldest Night of the Year 2016

It’s cold out there!

On February 20th, The Agapè Centre is hosting the Coldest Night of the Year, a 2, 5 & 10 km winter walk hosted in 80+ cities across Canada in support of our work here in Cornwall with the hungry, homeless, and hurting.

GOAL: With your help, our goal is to raise $25,000 by February 20th, 2016!

HOW: To accomplish our goal, we’re looking for 20 team captains (of all shapes, sizes and ages) who will recruit 7-8 friends to their team, with a goal of raising $2000 per team. Of course, we’re also looking for a whole pile of walkers to join each of our teams and help us raise the funds.

TOQUE BONUS: Every walker who raises either $75 (youth 17 and under) or $150 (for adults) gets our famous Coldest Night toque.

For more info click here

Or contact: Alyssa Blais, Executive Director at 613-361-0332 or ablais@agapecentre.ca

Join us on Facebook!

“Sheldon and Friends” launch their annual food drive campaign

Sheldon Veenstra and his food-raising friends have a new goal in sight: 7,500 cans collected for the Agapè Centre.

This amazing young person has organized food drives every fall for our food bank. Last year his team surpassed their goal of 6,500 cans, and we have no doubts that they’ll reach their goal this year.

Sheldon is leaving for University soon, but that isn’t stopping him. He’s trained a new group to take over for him. And they spent at day at centre, volunteering in the soup kitchen and food bank to see where their food donations go, and who they are helping.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Sheldon dropped off a load of fresh, local produce for the food bank. There was kale, tomatoes, apples, carrots, beans, onions, celery, watermelon,and lettuce.

The food drive is off to a great start!

Sheldon1_Aug 31_2015

Thank you to the “Sheldon & Friends Food Drive / La campagne de Sheldon” group. It’s energizing to see young people who care about those in need right here in our community.

Like the group and support their efforts here.

To read more click here
and here.

 

 

Our truck has a fresh look – with space for sponsorships

truck 1 Truck 2There’s a new way for businesses to help the Agapè Centre bring fresh food to people in need.

Our pick-up and delivery truck was refinished with a large photo of fresh veggies and the Agapè Centre’s logo on one side, and a display of our resale store, New For You, on the other side.

The new look also features some prime space for corporate sponsorships.

“Since our truck travels around the city on a daily basis, it’s a moving billboard. It made sense to spruce it up in a way that shares our mission and vision, with space to generate some funding to support services through advertising,” said Johanne Gauthier, operations manager.

“Now the truck showcases what we are all about: good, fresh food driven by community support,” she said.

Between repairs, maintenance, fuel and insurance, it costs more than $12,000 to keep the vehicle on the road for a year. So the seven advertising spots on the truck will cover the annual operating costs, and then some.

The truck use has significantly changed over the past year.

“Before, it was mostly used to pick up donations for the thrift store. But now it is being used primarily for picking up fresh food for the food bank, soup kitchen, and some of our food programs such as TLC (Teach and Learn with your Child at the Early Years Centre) and the Curious Chefs program,” said Gauthier.

So far, we have four businesses on board: Bourgon Construction, Olymel, Cornwall Truck Maintenance, and Marleau Mechanical.

“Bourgon Construction is pleased to be involved in the restoration and renovation of the Agapè Centre’s building and are proud to support the excellent work they do for the community,” said the construction company’s President and Project Manager, Chris Markell.

The Agapè Centre will provide great care to ensure that the advertising spaces are not sold to two competing businesses.

“We’re the biggest food manufacturer in town, so it makes sense to support the food bank,” said Jay Willyard, plant manager of Olymel.

Gerry ten Brink has been driving our truck for eight years, and enjoys the opportunity to get out into the community and meet the people Agapè works with.

“The truck brings visibility and awareness to what we’re doing, so the sponsorships are a great way to show the community involvement of the businesses in the area,” he said.

Jason Pascheck, owner of Cornwall Truck Maintenance, explained that his company sets aside funds in the budget to support charities.

“Our father believed in giving back to the community and started donating to Agape years ago, and it has been a part of our business’ core belief. We’ve also been helping with Agape’s truck maintenance for years,” he said

There are only three spaces left, so any company hoping to see its logo traveling around the city every weekday, will have to act fast. The agreements are renewable on an annual basis.

“By buying an ad space on the vehicle, sponsors are directly helping us bring fresh food to local people,” said Gauthier.

We also hope the fresh look will help people to become more familiar with our thrift store that was rebranded last fall to the name ‘New For You’. Its sales provide a large portion of the Agapè Centre’s operating budget.

For more information about the sponsorship program, contact Johanne Gauthier at 613-938-9297 ext. 27 or operationsmanager@agapecentre.ca.

Our doors are still open

Renovation projects are underway, but it’s business as usual for the Agapè Centre .

“We don’t want to close our doors to those who need us. It’s the whole reason we’re doing the work, and we are doing everything we can to keep services running,” said the Agapè Centre executive director Alyssa Blais.

The building will undergo many changes during the 18-week construction plan. The much needed infrastructure improvements include: removal of hazardous designated substances remaining in the 1950s-era building; replacement of the weathered main entrance stairs with a new ramp and stair; parking and walkway improvements; replacement of single-glazed windows and the building’s heating and ventilation systems, which have reached the end of their design lives; complete washroom renovations throughout the building to improve sanitary conditions and barrier-free accessibility.

The modifications will create a safer, more secure and warmer space to serve people in a more dignified way.

“Bourgon Construction, our construction manager, has been accommodating,” said Blais. “They understand that so many people rely on us, and they’re working to make sure that we can stay open during the process.”

Food bank and soup kitchen services will continue to be provided with regular hours, and the resale store ‘New For You’ will remain open (though a portion of the retail space will be sealed off temporarily).

‘New For You’ relies on its sales to make up a large portion of the operating budget for the charity, which provides food and clothing to more than 1,000 people each month.

“We NEED people to keep shopping in our store,” she said.

“Some days will be loud, and the store will lose some space for a while, but we want to make sure our customers know that our dedicated staff and volunteers will continue to restock the store daily.”

The building campaign is still ongoing, but the work had to be started in order for it to be completed by the winter, since the current heating system will not make it through another season.

“The Agape Centre is fortunate to be located in such a spacious, solid building, but having been built in the early 50s, with only patchwork renovations done over the years, the time has come for the replacement of most or all of the building’s main systems, along with improvements to accessibility,” said Chris Markell, Bourgon Construction’s President and Project Manager. “The management team prepared a list of priorities so that we could help them phase the work into cost-effective parcels.”

Work on the exterior west-side entrance has already begun. The stairs, vestibule and elevator have been removed, to make room for an accessibility ramp, thanks to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

There are also some exciting changes to the way services are provided coming with the renovations. The food bank is being redesigned which will change the way it operates, and a clothing referral room, separate from the store, is being added so clients can come and shop for clothes with privacy.

“Bourgon Construction and Architecture 49 / WSP Group are proud to be working with Agape on the overall planning of this important community project,” said Markell.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of October 2015.

Agape Reno 4

To access the store, use the entrance on 5th Street.

Agape Reno 2 Agape Reno 3 Agape 5

Keeping it Fresh

Thank you to Hoople Creek, Transition Cornwall + and Bill and Karen Carriere for donating these beautiful vegetable plants!

We’ve added them to our garden, and gave some away through the food bank, and to gardeners who will harvest the food at home for the Agape Centre. We’re also adding a second garden on the side of the building for the plants that need more sunshine.

All of the produce harvested from the garden here will be used in meals in the soup kitchen, given away in the food bank, and used in the Curious Chefs kids cooking program.

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