The Harold E. Ballard Foundation donated $50,000 to the Agapè Centre’s “Within These Walls” Building Campaign to help with the purchase of a new HVAC system.
The not-for-profit foundation’s mission to address social problems at their roots and to make a difference for those most vulnerable among us was a perfect fit with the local charity that works to make sure no family goes hungry or without the basic necessities of life.
“It’s very inspiring to receive a gift like this and we’re very grateful for the support of the Harold E. Ballard Foundation,” said Alyssa Blais, Executive Director of the Agapè Centre.
The donation came at an ideal time since construction for the five necessary major infrastructure improvements to the charity’s building is set to begin this weekend.
“The current heating system won’t make it through another winter, so even though we haven’t hit our target goal with the campaign we have to start the work now,” she said.
Along with the installation of a new heating and ventilation system, the Agapè Centre will undergo many other changes throughout the next 18 weeks, like the renovation of its washrooms (with an additional one added), the construction of an accessibility ramp at the store entrance, the replacement of windows and the redesign of its food bank.
“The generosity of this foundation is enormous,” said Blais. “This investment will aid us in creating a safer, more secure and warmer space for our most vulnerable people in our community.”
The Agapè Centre provides food and clothing to more than 1,000 people each month, and the modifications to the building will help the charity to serve people in a more dignified way.
Food bank and soup kitchen services will continue to be provided throughout the process, and the New For You store will remain open (though a portion of the retail space will be sealed off temporarily).
The following is a first hand account of the experience of Jillian Hendry, a placement student from St. Lawrence College who spent 2 days a week over the last few months with us.
As a 3rd year student in the Business Administration program at St. Lawrence College, I knew I wanted to do my final year work placement somewhere where I was not only learning valuable business skills, but also somewhere I was making a difference in the community. I have always been interested in non-profit organizations, so when the opportunity to work at the Agapè Centre presented itself I couldn’t say no.
When I first walked through the doors at the Agapè Centre I had no idea what to expect. Although I had heard about The Agapè Centre and had read about some of the things they do, it did not compare to seeing firsthand how much work goes into providing people in need with necessities such as food and clothing, that I had so much taken for granted. After only working here for one day, the building, welcoming staff, and grateful clients had changed my entire outlook on life.
Throughout my time here at Agapè Centre I worked on a variety of different projects, and although I wasn’t directly working with the community, before starting each project, Kendra (the volunteer coordinator) always made a point of tell me how the project would benefit the clients, and the community.
One project I was able to work on was “Lunch Money Day” – a fundraiser that was geared towards providing individuals and families in our community with fresh and nutritious food from both the soup kitchen and food bank. I was able to work on this fundraiser from beginning to end, mailing out letters, following up with businesses, scheduling pick up times, and I even had the opportunity to get interviewed by TV Cogeco to talk about it and how people could get involved. Being able to work on a project from start to finish opened my eyes to just how much goes into one small fundraiser. I can only imagine how much work goes into the larger fundraisers that Agapè organizes every year.
Another project I was able to work on was interviewing volunteers and staff members to write profiles on them. After interviewing a few volunteers it became clear that although everyone started volunteering for different reasons, when asked why they kept coming back the same answer kept reoccurring- “because I enjoy it.” Not only did they enjoy the people they worked with, they loved the smile on the clients face when they received their meal, clothing or groceries.
While working here I was also able to work on a project that, in my opinion, should be one of the most important aspects of a food bank- providing clients with healthy, fresh, and nutritious food. My job was to create a contact list of farmers in the area in the hopes that in the near future Agapè would be able to work with farmers and educate them on the benefits of donating produce. This project is one of many ways Agapè is trying to make sure their clients are receiving the nutrients they need.
One of my most memorable moments here was when I was working in the food bank bringing groceries out to clients. After bringing the client their food I went to walk away and they stopped me and said “I just want you to know how much this means to me and how much I rely on this food to get me through the week.” That person continued on to say that when they were back on their feet they would donate anything they could to repay us. So many of us take food for granted and don’t think twice about all the healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, yet someone who has nothing is so grateful for the little they receive. That moment will stay with me forever.
This placement has taught me so much about what it really takes to run a non-profit-organization. Not only what you see when you use their services but what goes on behind that. I am beyond grateful to all the dedicated staff and volunteers here at Agapè Centre for being so welcoming and friendly the minute I walk through the doors.
The Agapè Centre would like to thank Jillian for the passion, professionalism, and incredible work that she offered during her placement. She was warm, friendly, and wonderful with everyone she worked with and served. Jillian was a tremendous asset, and we are thankful for all of the ways she helped.
Cornwall’s Agapè Centre has joined 36 other organizations from across Canada to work for a healthy and fair food system, and in doing so has been named a Good Food Organization.
“We are very excited to have been selected as a Good Food Organization,” says Alyssa Blais, Executive Director of the Agapè Centre. “We have been working hard to create a culture at Agapè which places a premium on delivering healthy nutritious meals to our clients.”
Good Food Organizations are making a commitment to offering respectful, responsive, and impactful food programs in their communities as a way of decreasing hunger, building better physical and mental health, and reducing social isolation. The program has been developed by Community Food Centres Canada.
“We launched this initiative to provide support and inspiration to organizations across the country, be they health centres, food banks, or community organizations, that are doing important grassroots food work,” says Kathryn Scharf, VP National Programs for Community Food Centres Canada. “We want to amplify these voices and program outcomes to show what effects an investment in healthy food can have.”
Community Food Centres Canada is a national organization with the mandate to work with partners to develop welcoming spaces where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. People learn cooking skills and get their hands dirty in the garden – in ways that expand their taste buds and help them make healthier food choices.
Good Food Organizations will gain access to centralized resources, customized training as well as a granting stream.
The Agapè Centre has undertaken a number of initiatives to support the concept of “good food”. The Centre has created and maintains its own fresh garden, and it regularly receives donations of fresh spinach and other leafy vegetables from Smart Greens in Cornwall. It has been encouraging donations of healthy food items and wherever possible has been using fresh, organic ingredients in meal preparation.
“We’ve received over 10,000 pounds of vegetables from local farmers and gardeners this summer,” said Ms. Blais. “Marlin Orchards alone has donated thousands of pounds of apples.”
Agapè Centre staff have also been working hard to educate the community about the importance of healthy eating.
“Today, there is a lot more awareness about the benefits of making healthy food choices,” says Ms. Blais. “Good food leads to good health which creates more opportunity for personal growth.”
It’s Giving Tuesday – a global day of giving – and we’re celebrating with our many regular volunteers, as well as a few special guests today.
The Agapè Centre relies on the community to give their time, food, clothing, and funds. Without this support, we would not be able to continue to serve the many families and individuals in need.
Today we are reminded of the many, many, people in our community who give.
Councilor Carilyne Hebert is volunteering this afternoon in the food bank, helping to give out packages of 3 to 5 days’ worth of groceries to people in need. With her is an Agapè vet, Remi Gillet, who volunteers every Tuesday.
In the kitchen, a team of volunteers from Paroisse Sainte-Thérèse-de-Lisieux helped to prepare and serve a hot lunch of beef stew, soup and dessert to about 100 people. Pictured are Rita Besner, Lise Leblanc and Diane Burelle from Sainte-Thérèse-de-Lisieux, as well as weekly soup kitchen volunteers Maurice, Cecile and Kaitlyn.
The Agapè Centre is thrilled to announce the launch of a new program that invites community groups to help feed those in need by sponsoring, preparing and serving a meal in the soup kitchen: “Hunger Heroes”.
Every day, Agapè serves a hearty and nutritious lunch to 150 or more people. For many, it’s their only hot meal of the day.
Four teams have already jumped on board to help eradicate hunger in our city, one meal at a time.
Chief Dan Parkinson and his team of CCPS servers were happy to show another side of the badge: caring and compassion.
“There can be almost no greater cause than to satisfy the most basic human physiological need: hunger,” said Parkinson. “Food security has to be a priority for any caring community,” he added.
The complex issues of poverty and hunger can often seem overwhelming, but the Agape Centre hopes the Hunger Heroes program can show just how easy it is for anyone to help.
Unfortunately, Cornwall has a high level of poverty, with a quarter of the population living below the poverty line. These are working people, people who have lost their jobs, those looking for work, seniors, those who depend on ODSP, and many with metal health struggles. When their very limited income just doesn’t cut it, the Agape Center is there for them.
Here’s how it works: Teams arrive in the soup kitchen for 8 a.m. and spend the morning preparing lunch, which consists of a home-made soup, a main meal, coffee or tea and dessert. Then from noon to 1:30p.m., the volunteers serve the free meal they sponsored.
It requires a minimum time commitment, and the benefits largely outweigh any costs. ‘Hunger Heroes’ will see the tangible results of their day and will experiencing what something as simple as a hot meal means to someone who really needs it. Groups will not soon forget this enriching, empowering, and fun team-building activity.
The Agapè Centre invites community businesses, organizations, schools, families, churches, and other groups to consider taking part in this community challenge. For more information contact the Johanne Couture by phone at 613-938-9297 ext. 27, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’ll be a new home for the Agape Centre, but the busy soup kitchen and food bank in Cornwall isn’t going anywhere.
The Centre on Thursday morning officially kicked off its “Within These Walls” building campaign, an aggressive and ambitious fundraising program to raise $1 million for much-needed renovations and repairs at the Fifth Street West site.
“The goal is $1 million, it’s a big number but the list of repairs needed is long,” said Bernadette Clément, co-chair of the building campaign, at a kick-off breakfast held at the Navy Club.
“The Agape Centre is a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s a welcoming place, an oasis, a safe haven to a lot of people in need. . .within those walls are all the services provided to people. (But) we need to fix the building if we want those services to continue to be provided.”
The Centre in a glossy magazine handed out Thursday had pictures of holes in walls and ceilings and outdated, crumbling infrastructure.
Clément noted the building’s heating system needs to be replaced, which will eat up a big chunk of the project costs, but there’s also plenty of work to be done on flooring, bathrooms and entrances – and many other areas.
The campaign is off to a great start, Clément noted, with $138,000 raised even before the official kickoff. Donations will be accepted from now until Sept. of 2017, but the major lifting in the fundraising efforts are between now and next May, because “repairs are urgently needed,” Clément said. “It’s a big campaign, but we feel confident, (and) things are moving (financially) already.” READ MORE HERE
Please join us Thursday, September 4th from 7am to 8:30am at the Navy Club on 30 Sixth Street East in Cornwall. You are encouraged to bring a friend or two to the breakfast. The cost to attend is $20.00.
Some are surprised to realize that there is so much need in our community. The Agapè Centre has been providing food assistance since 1971 to over 1,100 individuals every month, about 50% of whom are families. Individuals and families come to us at a point of crisis in their lives. The Agapè Centre meets them where they are at and responds to their immediate needs.
The food bank relies on donations of both food and funds from the community to be able to meet the growing necessities of those coming to us for help. Yet, over the past three years, we have seen a 30% increase in the number of requests and our building has deteriorated due to the upsurge and it’s not ok.
The building that houses our very efforts to help those in need is inviting you to support us in a very special way. We are asking you to come to our Kick-Off breakfast. The kick-off to our building campaign is on a Thursday morning and will give you a rare inside look at how hunger affects those in our community. We will also hear from Sheila Burnett, who started working with the poor in 1983 and she just recently finished her 30th year at the Shepherds of Good Hope, Ottawa.
New program for kids: “Curious Chefs: Cooking Club for Kids”, is based on healthy eating on a budget. The Club will be focusing on the four major food groups, kitchen safety, healthy school snacks and lunches, portion size, food labels, a grocery store tour and of course, lots of cooking and eating. Children between the ages of 7-11 will be able to participate FREE of charge and also receive an excellent starter kit to take home at the end of the 6 weeks. The program also offers many creative activities and learning opportunities and a little “Fear Factor” each week.
This year Hunger Awareness Week is taking place from May 5-9, 2014. We hope you will join us to increase awareness of the issue of hunger and the important work of food banks across Canada.
The theme for this year’s Hunger Awareness Week campaign is “Give Hunger a Voice.” We want to break the silence surrounding hunger in Canada and move it from a taboo topic to a mainstream one. We want to show the multitude and strength of the voices of hunger in Canada and show that that hunger can no longer be ignored.
To “Give Hunger a Voice” we are asking concerned community members to contribute to our online story wall of hunger. Contributing is easy. Simply post a short written submission, video, or photo to www.facebook.com/FoodBanksCanada to one of the following categories:
Voice Your Story – Tell your own personal story of hunger or the story of someone close to you.
Voice Your Support – Provide a supportive message to Canadians living with food uncertainty. Let them know you are behind them and will help them break the silence surrounding hunger in Canada.
Voice Your Concern – Add a post directed to Canadian policymakers showing why you think hunger in Canada is unacceptable.
Voice Your Solution – Share what you are doing to ease hunger in your community. It could be a story of volunteering, donating or anything else that helps those who are hungry.
To show the voice of hunger in Canada is strong and cannot be ignored we encourage all Canadians to contribute to the story wall and participate in activities supporting Hunger Awareness Week. For more information please visit: www.hungerawarenessweek.ca.