On the first Sunday of each month, those attending the worship service are invited to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the NDG Food Depot.
Sharing the Plate
The Unitarian Church of Montreal shares our weekly offering collected during the Sunday service with local organizations in need of support and whose missions coincide with ours. We are pleased to support the following excellent programs:
January: Head & Hands
From the website: "At Head & Hands we envision a society in which all youth are participants and are inspired by the endless possibilities available to them. Head & Hands' mission is to work with youth to promote their physical and mental well-being. Our approach is preventative, inclusive, non-judgmental, and holistic, with a fundamental commitment to providing an environment that welcomes youth without discrimination. We facilitate social change and the empowerment of youth based on their current needs within our community and society at large." They provide health, legal, and social services, a program for young parents, a food pantry, and many other resources.
February: N.D.G. Food Depot
From the website: “The NDG Food Depot is a community-based non-profit organization that works collaboratively with other community partners to address issues of food security in NDG and the surrounding areas.
" Our objectives are to reduce the hardship of living in poverty by:
- improving food security for people with insufficient income,
- increasing access to healthy food,
- alleviating social isolation and fostering social integration of all community members, reducating the public at large about issues of poverty and hunger."
March: Chez Doris
From the website: “Our drop-in program, in a home-like setting, receives up to 100 women per day. To the best of our ability, we try to provide an environment that is safe, and is inclusive, confidential, respectful, supportive, and helpful. We are a welcome relief to those who suffer from loneliness, isolation and depression and we assist women who struggle with financial insecurity, homelessness, mental illness, addictions, and/or other adversities. Our services and programs include: breakfast and lunch; access to showers and hygienic products; emergency food bags; 6 respite beds; telephone information and referral assistance; a financial management program; an Inuit assistance program; an Aboriginal housing program; health and mental health services; legal services; as well as educational and socio-recreational programs.”
April: Santropol Roulant
From the website: “Santropol Roulant is an intergenerational community food hub where we grow, prepare and deliver food. In doing so, we create a continuum of engaging services that help build a stronger social fabric, and increase food security and social inclusion for Montrealers.
While the Roulant welcomes people of all generations and walks of life, our activities and programs benefit two groups of people in particular: young Montrealers and those living with a loss of autonomy. Through volunteering, attending or leading workshops, or working at the Roulant as an intern or staff member, new generations are encouraged gain experience and knowledge, share ideas and take on leadership roles in the community. Our meals-on-wheels serves clients living with a loss of autonomy who need support to cook and access healthy food. Client-members, 80% of which are seniors, increase their food autonomy and social connections through regular meal deliveries, intergenerational events and a variety of projects and activities where clients take on various roles and levels of engagement.”
Among other programs, Santropol Roulant runs collective gardens and promotes urban agriculture, delivers meals on wheels, offers a variety of community workshops, and operates a bike shop where volunteers teach you how to fix your bike.
May: Bienvenue à Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
Bienvenue à NDG is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating the integration of immigrants (newly arrived or other) in the community of Notre-Dame-de-Grace as well as promoting intercultural relations. Bienvenue à NDG has operated since 2009 in partnership with the NDG Community Council, the Comite Action 6-12 and the Table de Concertation Jeunesse NDG (Youth Table). Things they do:
• Welcoming: Information kiosks directly inform immigrants about services, organizations, and the activities of the community. Kiosks are staffed by Intervenants that speak many languages, in the hope of connecting with Immigrants. There are members of Bienvenue à NDG who speak Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, etc.
• Breaking Isolation: strengthen the sense of belonging by organizing and animating social integration activities that bring individuals together.
• Training and Preparation for Employment: Organize and facilitate workshops about skills and information needed. Offer career development opportunities and encourage their participation to the development of the community.
• Accompanying: Assist newcomers in their efforts of integration through meetings with an Agent of Integration • Partnership and Intercultural Dialogue: Work with community partners to better meet the needs of immigrant families.
Money donated by the Unitarian Church of Montreal will be used towards Bienvenue à NDG's French courses. Bienvenue à NDG has come to understand that the inability to speak French has become a major stress in the lives of newly arrived immigrants. It limits their access to services (that lack a staff that speaks other languages) and therefore makes it more difficult to integrate into the community. As each family arrives and is matched up with an Agent of Integration, their first conversations are about the need to learn French—they try to find French courses that are most practical for the family in terms of cost and schedule. Bienvenue à NDG worked with volunteer teachers and NDG residents to develop a series of workshops teaching practical French to their participants (and other interested residents) for free. As many of their participants are parents, free childcare was offered to make attendance possible. Unfortunately, Bienvenue à NDG no longer has the funding or resources to continue this program and has had to shut it down. The UCM’s contributions will go to support it.
June: St. Michael's Mission
From the website: “The Mission provides an important link in the chain of services for the city’s disadvantaged and marginalized population, offering breakfast and lunch, showers and hygiene products, clothing and emergency food to a multilingual and multicultural clientele.
“Other basic services include crisis intervention, as a first step in the process of rehabilitation as well as assistance in welfare, unemployment, immigration and refugee issues enabling clients to take their place in today’s society. In addition, information and referral services are given on mental health and addiction problems.”
July & August: The NDG Art Hive
Art Hives believe in the power of building community through art by breaking social isolation, welcoming a diversity of people together, inspiring and providing unique opportunities for individual and collective expression and action in the world. An Art Hive:
• welcomes everyone as an artist and believes art making is a human behavior.
• celebrates the strengths and creative capacities of individuals and communities.
• fosters self-directed experiences of creativity, learning, and skill sharing.
• encourages emerging grass roots leaders of all ages.
• provides free access as promoted by gift economy.
• shares resources, including the abundant materials available for creative reuse.
• experiments with ideas through humble inquiry and arts-based research.
• exchanges knowledge about funding strategies and economic development.
• partners with colleges and universities to promote engaged scholarship.
• gardens wherever possible to renew, regenerate, and spread seeds of social change.
The NDG Art Hive has have offered a free, bilingual community arts studio in NDG Park for two summers in partnership with the Ville de Montreal, which has welcomed more than 100 attendees each week: families, young adults and seniors from diverse backgrounds and experiences. In addition, we have provided ‘Pop-Up’ Art Hives at the Unitarian Church, Benny Library, and Intercultural Festival, among other places. The all-inclusive aspect of Art Hives fits the First Principle, allowing participants to come as they are: their presence, not their product, is valuable.
The UCM's contribution will help enable the Art Hive to offer programming in other neighbourhoods of NDG—often the more underserved ones, such as Westhaven and Walkley, where there is a high percentage of single-parent families and recent immigrants. UCM members are welcome to continue participating at the Art Hive, and "pop-up" (mobile) Art Hives can be set up at UCM events. As part of the 8th Principle, materials are donated and/or eco-responsibly attained (saved from the dump).
September: Gender Creative Kids
From the website: “Gender creative kids are kids who identify and express their gender in ways that differ from what others may expect. Gender creative kids are also sometimes referred to as gender nonconforming, gender variant, gender independent, transgender, and in the case of Aboriginal children, two-spirited. Sometimes gender creative kids grow up to identify with the spectrum of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two spirited (LGBTQ2) communities… and sometimes they don’t. Gender diversity is healthy and gender creative kids deserve to be supported and affirmed in their families, schools and communities.“Gender Creative Kids Canada is a non-profit volunteer run community organization, based in Montreal, initiated by a group of parents and registered in Quebec on the 29th of April 2013. Not only do our volunteers (parents and allies) run the website, they also offer support and advocacy parent groups, training to schools and other organizations, workshops and they create safe spaces for gender creative kids everywhere!”
October: Mile End Community Mission
From the website: “In this, our 25th year nourishing the community, the Mission expects to serve over 14,000 meals, fill 10,000 grocery bags and provide countless essential services to its growing membership. Not just a soup kitchen, the Mission provides structure, purpose and meaning for its chronically poor, socially excluded and disadvantaged members.
The Mile End Community Mission is a community hub that allows members to connect and support one another. Receiving only a small amount of our funding from government assistance, the Mission relies heavily on public donations and fundraising events to continue offering these crucial services.”
The mission offers free hot meals, a weekly food bank and emergency food bags, a mobile dental clinic, and affordable clothing and small household items; to promote community, they provide art and yoga programs, computer and telephone access, outings and special events, and a monthly community dinner; and it also provides information, referral, and support services (including counseling, advocacy and accompaniment) and access to the Mile End Legal Clinic.
From the website: “Stella’s primary mission is to improve quality of work and life for sex workers, to educate the greater public on the different ways that sex work happens as well as about our lived experiences as sex workers, so that sex workers might also enjoy and benefit from the same rights to safety and security that are commonplace for other people. Specifically, Stella seeks to:
• Offer support and information to sex workers so that sex workers can work and live in safety and with dignity.
• To help counter violence, the different factors that put sex workers at risk of contracting HIV and STI’s and any other threats to our community’s general well being.
• To fight discrimination towards sex workers as well as the social isolation and stigmatization that is endured by many.
• To work towards the decriminalization of all forms of sex work.
• To support the participation of sex workers involvement in our communities.
• To encourage the creation of platforms and forums used to discuss sex work on municipal, provincial, federal and international levels.
Stella’s team works towards these goals by promoting solidarity amongst sex workers and by creating spaces where sex workers can access power. Stella and our locale are geared towards female identified and trans women sex workers, whether they are or are not currently working in the industry. We are also open to allies who wish to support us in our mission.”
December: Montreal Diet Dispensary
From the website: “Founded in 1879, the Montreal Diet Dispensary provides each year nutritional and social support to more than one thousand pregnant women in need to help them to give birth to babies in good health. Recognized for its expertise in perinatal nutrition, the Dispensary’s expertise and activities are aimed at pregnancy and the first months after birth.
To achieve its mission, the Dispensary has the following objectives:
• reduce the number of disadvantaged low birthweight babies;
• encourage and support breastfeeding;
• through a social nutrition approach, prepare families to take charge of their physical and mental wellbeing and at the same time favour their social integration.”