Affectionately called “The Centre” because it is at the heart of all we do, St. George’s Drop-In Centre.
What began in 2015 as a one-off Christmas meal serving 35 guests is now a 9-3, 7-day drop in centre with daily breakfast, lunch, and two community meals that serves over 500 people each week. In addition, our meals-to-the-streets provides 150 meals brought directly to the homeless and poor at 5 Metro corridors in Montreal’s downtown core.
At our first event, the meals was prepared by one family. Now we have a core of more than 55 volunteers – not just from our own community, but from more than 6 other faith groups – including the Muslim and Jewish faiths – and more than 15 community organizations which provide volunteers – such as the YMCA Compensatory Work program – and many food and supply providers in our immediate neighborhood. All told, a diverse group of more than 25 different community organizations are working in harmony to feed, support and provide referrals and resources to the homeless and poor in our neighborhood and beyond. Not only has growth and diversity touched our partners and volunteers, more importantly, it is reflected in the nature of the guests that we seek to serve.
Initially our guests comprised of middle-aged francophone, homeless males. Now that our program has expanded so much and we have offered resources such as phone, computer, Wi-Fi, and a legal clinic – those who come to our program come for a variety of reasons from many different walks of life.
We now cater to as almost as many women as men. Moreover, the ethnic and linguistic composition of our guests now includes more than 11 languages, 40 different cultures, and several different ethnicities. We now serve guests as young as 16 and as old as 88. This mosaic has enriched the program by the guests themselves being nurtured by the diversity of each other’s presence.
Lastly, the program has matured through relationships with other service providers. In our regular dialogue with groups like the
Maison Benoit Labre, Mile End Mission, Pas de la rue, St James Drop-In Centre, St Michael’s Mission [Red Roof Church],The Open Door, and Wolf-Pack Street Patrol, and YMCA, we collaborate to ensure that we are providing a solid core of the direct services that are required in every neighborhood, while not reduplicating services that are better supported by other agencies. We also are working with St James Drop-In Centre on the development of a real-time, web-based, social services app for the clients of drop-in centres that will provide accurate, timely information and links to resources.