Founded in 1977, Chez Doris is a day shelter for vulnerable women living in Montreal, offering a safe environment for up to 100 women every day. The shelter is open seven days a week and provides women with various essentials such as breakfast and lunch, access to showers, hygienic products, emergency food bags, respite beds, custodial services, financial management programs, an Inuit assistance program, an aboriginal housing placement service, health and mental health services, legal services, and educational and socio-recreational programs.
A few months ago, B’nai Brith Canada’s Community Services Chair Joanne Cutler took a tour of the facility in downtown Montreal alongside B’nai Brith Quebec’s Regional Director Harvey Levine. “The cupboards were bare,” Cutler said, “so we decided to help. Our motto is, after all, ‘People helping people.’”
On Dec. 9, the fruits of B’nai Brith’s labour came to fruition, as the donation arrived in the form of over 250 pounds of turkey, non-pe
rishable food items, and a generous cheque to Chez Doris towards their upcoming holiday meals. For Cutler, who personally helped deliver clothing and toiletries for over 200 homeless women supported by Chez Doris, it was truly an indescribable feeling.
During her visit, Cutler had the opportunity of meeting the shelter’s many volunteers who were transforming tired wool clothing into warm winter mitts. “It was so nice to walk past the arts and crafts room where this activity was taking place,” she said. “We could hear the volunteers helping one another and chatting about their lives.”
Cutler herself purchased five pairs of mittens that day. “They are not only warm, but beautiful – each one completely unique,” she said.
During her previous visit as part of B’nai Brith’s delegation, Cutler’s team unloaded seven boxes of nonperishable food items for Chez Doris, as well as boxes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, and other supplies. Cutler also thanks the “very dedicated” members of the B’nai Brith community for their donations.
Chez Doris Executive Director Marina Boulos-Winton was clearly very moved by the gesture. “Words cannot express how thankful we are to B’nai Brith Quebec, Joanne Cutler, and all of her volunteers for the donation of more than 200 pounds of turkeys, as well as the financial contribution collected by its members,” she said.
“The turkeys and the donation were used toward preparing a holiday meal for 200 women and up to 50 volunteers. Police officers and other volunteers were on hand to help prepare and serve a traditional holiday lunch to women of all faiths and backgrounds over the course of a three-day celebration truly made possible by B’nai Brith Quebec’s contribution. We hope that their collaboration with Chez Doris will be ongoing. “
Besides Chez Doris, Cutler has visited a number of other community institutions in need of help, yet another excellent example of the important role B’nai Brith plays in the community.
Mike Cohen is B’nai Brith Canada’s Quebec news bureau chief, a veteran writer and municipal politician. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mikecohencslazq