COMMUNITAS ANNUAL APPEAL
November 1, 2022
To our dear friends and supporters!
2022 is almost over, and Communitas has much to report on. On the staffing front, we said goodbye to Monika, our Coordinator, and Brent, our part-time Coordinator for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), as funding for the five-year CoSA project ended in 2021, and the Ministry of Public Safety has decided not to continue to fund this Canada-wide programme.
Open Door – our signature program has gone from strength to strength with the Hybrid model of Zoom, plus in-person attendance, becoming the norm. As we have experimented over the months with mics and mixer boards for optimal sound quality, we think that we have finally struck a happy balance where everyone – in-person or remote, can enjoy a quality experience of Open Door.
In-person participation has been particularly rewarding as we see more and more men attending who were unable to access on Zoom and are now happily taking part again at Open Door and even spreading the word to others. In addition, with the prisons now easing up on their Covid restrictions, Open Door now has a maximum of 5 men on Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA) attending the meeting three times a month from the two Minimum Security Prisons – Montée Saint Francois and Ste-Anne-des-Plaines. These outings have been made possible by our volunteer escort drivers, who have stepped up to help, and we are very pleased to say that two new escort drivers are currently being trained, which will allow Communitas to do even more.
Another great success marking 2022 has been the resumption of Table Talk – our weekly Friday lunch and conversation activity, which now takes place in our new premises at the Undercroft. It started small in June 2022 with some 8 attendees and has now grown to the point that all our tables were filled last week with 19 persons having lunch. Volunteers have again stepped up to prepare the food. Somewhat like Open Door, you never know what to expect – it’s an enjoyable surprise!
In other good news, more and more of our volunteers have been certified by the Correctional Service of Canada and are now able to participate in Chapel visits. The enjoyment of both inmates and volunteers continues to be expressed to the Chaplains at the two institutions, and as one noted recently – the number of men attending is steady or rising – which is always a good sign.
Other prison visits continue to take place as we are offering one-on-one pastoral accompaniment to the men during their incarceration. This is also an opportunity to identify men wishing to have a Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) when they are released.
As we start our annual fundraising drive, Communitas welcomes your donations for our activities and appeals for your support. This is particularly relevant at this time given the loss of funding in 2021 from the Government and from Montreal Community Chaplaincy (ACM) – our other historical source of funds – leaving us wholly dependent on donations received from our members, supporters and the general public.
Donors are invited to contribute to Communitas through the Canada Helps Donate button on our website www.communitasmontreal.org. Cheques are also welcome and can be mailed to the new Communitas office address, 1444 Union Avenue, Montreal, H3A 2B8, QC. We also encourage you to become a monthly contributor to our Organization. This will assist with our long-term planning. Charitable receipts will be issued for all donations over $20.00.
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all members, supporters and well-wishers for your financial and moral support, without which our work could not succeed.
Michele Rattray-Huish, President
Mouvement Communitas Inc.