Posts - Communitas Montreal
As we head into the Fall, Communitas wishes to thank all our benefactors who have supported us financially – whether with membership fees, through Open Door Book purchases, or by donating to the Organization, via cash, cheques or through our Canada Helps account.
We would like to express a special note of thanks to the individuals who have decided to contribute to Communitas on a monthly basis. At present Communitas has a total of 10 such individual benefactors who donate a fixed sum to us every month.
Given the recent change in our funding base – with the end of Government financial support, this dependability of funding is very much appreciated in planning our activities for the future – be it Open Door, Table Talk, Prison Chapel activities, Prison In-Reach, Circles of Support and Accountability, the Sou’Wester or simply accompaniment of men recently released from prison.
I would encourage anyone who feels able to make such a monthly contribution to Communitas, to consider doing so. The monthly amount need not be onerous – any amount that you can afford will be greatly welcomed. To do so, visit our Donate page.
We hope to double the number of monthly donors from 10 to 20 by the next Annual General Meeting in May 2024.
Thank you for all the support that you provide to Communitas.
Michele Rattray-Huish, President/Treasurer
The latest edition of the Communitas Sou’Wester is now online. Read about volunteer activity at Cowansville, the Communitas Appreciation Brunch , Mostly Legal looks at the controversy surrounding the Bernardo transfer, and the latest entries in the Sou’Wester art, poem and prose contest!
COMMUNITAS’ Annual General Meeting took place on 24 May 2023 via Zoom. Attended by 29 members, the AGM approved the Financial Statements for 2022-2023 as well as the 2023-2024 budget.
A new Board of Directors was acclaimed and Communitas is very pleased to welcome Donald as the newest member of the Board. Six members of the previous Board returned to serve – Michele, Steve, Jeri, Pauline, Sabrina and Dave.
We said farewell to Roch our invaluable Treasurer for the past 2 years, who stepped down from the Board of Directors after yeoman’s service.
A more complete account of the meeting results will be published in the next edition of the Sou’Wester.
The latest edition of the Communitas Sou’Wester is now online. Read about the amazing community that Table Talk has become, Olivia’s internship, Mostly Legal looks at what its like to eat in prison, and Marlyn’s Woodstock adventure, and much, much more!
The latest edition of the Communitas Sou’Wester is now online. Read about longtime Communitas member Bob’s Journey into the world of photography, an interview with Board member Dave, the Communitas 2022 Open Door Christmas party and much, much more!
Tom Gero was a much-loved member of Communitas. We learned recently that he passed away two weeks ago after a short illness.
Tom had been a member of Communitas from back in the day when we were still called Montreal Southwest Community Ministries (MSCM). He was a faithful participant at both Open Door and Table Talk – when Table Talk was held at our offices at Notre Dame. Tom would arrive early for Open Door and make sure that the coffee was ready for when people started showing up. At Table Talk, he had his special chair in the corner that everyone knew was ‘Tom’s chair.’ There he would sit, sometimes appearing to be asleep as the hubbub of Table Talk took place around him.
Although he was a very quiet person, Tom had many friends – and a sly sense of humour. His understated but warm personality drew people to him, and even in the times when he was going through especially hard times, friends and even strangers would stop by to talk with him, bring him food or money and generally show him love. We even heard that someone placed a chair outside a Provigo he was known to frequent so that he could be more comfortable.
His friends at Communitas will miss him greatly.
Rest in Peace, Tom.
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.
It’s already been more than three months since Communitas restarted its Table Talk activity since being shut down in March 2020 as a result of the Covid Pandemic. A lot has changed. Firstly we moved from our previous location in St. Henri and relocated to our new office space in the Undercroft on St. Catherine Street. The change has had its positives and negatives – we are more central in downtown Montreal – right on the McGill metro line – and our new space is larger – but without access to the outdoors – sorry smokers!
So far, it has been going very well – we have received on average 11 persons attending the lunch each Friday – with a high of 14 people, with lots of regulars and some drop-ins.
The food has been fantastic – including Torrin’s vegetarian specialty, Peter’s Chilaquille, Marlyn’s lentils and rice delight, Rosalie’s meatloaf dish and Michele’s Jamaican chicken. In addition to these gifts, we have also enjoyed pizza, lasagna, chicken pot pie, hamburgers, and it goes on. All complemented by salads, coffee and juices.
Let us not forget the delicious desserts on offer every week – again mostly brought by those arriving to share in the Table Talk – from chocolate truffles to
pies, homemade cakes, chocolate cupcakes, Italian biscuits, donuts and cinnamon buns – the array has been breathtaking. Last but by no means least are the ubiquitous potato chips of every possible flavour.
The talk in Table Talk has also been instructive. Most Fridays, we observe the usual chit-chat and catching up that people partake in as they move from table to table to chat, depending on who is sitting where and who has just come in. At other times, however, we have had occasion to have short group discussions depending on what was happening in the world – eg. The death of Queen Elizabeth; Orange Shirt Day; what it meant to us to restart Table Talk after more than two years…
As you might be able to tell, things are moving along at a nice pace – last week, another ex-prisoner dropped in, having heard we were back – and brought a friend.
We continue to slowly build this activity back up and invite anyone wishing to support its expense to donate the $40 (on average) needed to provide one weekly meal to get in touch or simply donate to Communitas via our Canada Helps donate button in the link below. You can indicate in the description that the donation is to provide one Table Talk Meal.
Your support for Communitas, whether financial or otherwise, is always welcomed.