Agape appeals for funds to city, as Senior Wellness Centre drains resources

Chomedey-based social services provider served 5,000 individuals last year

The Youth and Parents Agape Association announced a $93,809 deficit for 2024 on June 27 during the Chomedey-based charity’s annual general meeting.

In light of this, they are calling on the City of Laval to provide financial support for the Agape Senior Wellness Centre, which is drawing on more of Agape’s financial resources than had previously been expected.

From the left, Agape board members Roderick McLeod, Gregory Young, Elizabeth McLeod, are seen here during the AGM with executive-director Kevin McLeod and assistant director Ian Williams. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

From the left, Agape board members Roderick McLeod, Gregory Young, Elizabeth McLeod, are seen here during the AGM with executive-director Kevin McLeod and assistant director Ian Williams. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Situation ‘stable’

In spite of the shortfall, the social service provider’s executive-director was upbeat during an interview with The Laval News, describing Agape’s situation as “stable.”

“It’s going to get better,” said Kevin McLeod, adding that “of course, a lot of that money was due to our Senior Wellness Centre, a lack of funding that we’re having there. But we need more money for the Senior Wellness Centre.”

A drain on funding

McLeod explained during the meeting that rent alone for the Senior Wellness Centre in a Notre Dame Blvd. high-rise building costs $100,000 per year. (The Agape administration also uses the centre’s offices.)

“I’ll be honest,” he said. “This place cost us a lot of money. I’m not going to lie. It’s a big reason why we closed our year at a very big negative.”

He said Agape has been talking with the City of Laval, including Mayor Stéphane Boyer and Souvenir-Labelle city councillor Sandra El Helou, about the city providing fundingfor the Senior Wellness Centre, as it has for years to the nearby Axion 50 Plus seniors centre.

Seeking help from city

“I think that there’s misconception that the City of Laval sometimes would love that everyone goes to one place for joint services at Axion 50,” said McLeod.

“I think, realistically speaking, my argument is it’s not going to happen, because trust has been broken and it’s hard to build it back. And I think that English-speaking seniors want a place of belonging, that belongs to them, where there are English signs up, they speak in English and not feel discriminated against. I think that’s what it comes down to.”

Overall $1.2 million budget

According to Agape’s2024 audited financial statements, operating the Senior Wellness Centre cost $96,995, ata $53,000 loss for Agape. The association’s projected revenues for 2024-2025, from close to two dozen provincial, federal, private and self-financing sources, are a little over $1.2 million.

In spite of the challenges, the board said in their foreword to Agape’s published report of activities that “this has been an exceptional year for Agape, with 2023-2024 marking a record in the number of English speakers served by our organization.”

‘Pride in our achievements’

From April 2023 to March 2024, according to the directors, Agape provided services, resources, presentations, referrals, emergency food relief and other essential support to more than 5,000 individuals.

Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod.(Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

“We take great pride in our achievements and firmly believe that our initiatives have significantly contributed to the mental and physical well-being of many English speakers,” said the directors.

Agape benefited from a major cash windfall when the board decided to divest the organization of its children’s daycare centre, selling it to a private operator. The six-figure sum, according to McLeod, has been deposited into a special fund to accumulate interest.

Handling clothes donations

While explaining some of the inner workings of Agape’s operations, McLeod revealed that a certain portion of the items received as donations, such as clothes, are sometimes thrown out immediately if they are unusably defective because of damage, dirt or infestation. Better quality clothing may be sold to raise money.

Although he pointed out that food isnever sold and always given away to the needy, McLeod said clothing is sold at a nominal cost, although “families in need are given clothing a hundred percent.” Assistant director Ian Williams added that thrift shoppers hunting for fashionable used clothing will often drop by the Agape outlet on Notre Dame Blvd.