Agape sees light at the end of the tunnel, after a challenging year

Chomedey social services provider plans expansion to Duvernay-Laval

“It’s been a tough year or two, to say the least,” Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod said at the beginning of the Chomedey-based social services organization’s annual general meeting on June 29, as he emphasized the challenges they’ve faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic around 17 months ago.

Rainbow in view

“The good news is that we can see the rainbow at the end of the tunnel – it’s looking good,” he added. According to Agape’s 2020-2021 report, the COVID 19 pandemic made community support stronger, given the emergency funding that was provided by numerous sources at different governmental levels.

However, there was a slight decrease in demand for food and other material assistance seeing that Agape was closed (except for its food bank) from March to July 2020, and potentially new resources started providing food assistance.

Christmas requests cut

Agape said it had to scale back requests for Christmas baskets in December 2020. All the same, some 400 were prepared. Those who did not qualify for Agape’s services were asked to register at the Centre de Bénévolat and Moisson Laval. McLeod said that surplus food donations have helped and will sustain Agape’s food bank for the remainder of 2021.

Since August 2020, 28 new individual and family client files were opened at Agape for assistance, of which 20 were retained. This represents 32 adults and 21 children. Among these, a total of five were single-parent families who were responsible for 5 children in total.

Fewer refugees as clients

Although Agape did not have as many refugees for clients as in recent years, they still served six new sponsored refugee families as well as one refugee-claimant family. As in the past, a large portion of families served represent those who were recent immigrants.

Seven countries were represented among the files that were opened during the 2020-2021 time period. Agape still served clients who opened files for assistance in previous years and the average ranged from 15-20 food orders per month, including basic non-perishable food items and frozen bread and pastries. Some families requested help 2-3 times per month.

Psychotherapy not being used

In an outline of some of Agape’s other activities, the annual report noted that a psychotherapy service offered within a mental health project conducted in conjunction with the CISSS de Laval “continues but has seen a slight decrease and continued decline in clients mainly because of a need for more promotion and reminding partners about the availability of this service. The counsellor was seeing about 2-3 clients in a given month throughout the year.”

According to the annual report, Agape agreed initially with its health partners that Agape would phase this part of the project out once the Quebec government implemented a public psychotherapy program that was announced in 2017, although “this project is not yet activated,” says Agape.

No PQPTM yet in Laval

With regards to planning for the same program in 2021-2022 (which is scheduled to end on March 31 in 2023), the annual report says, “The therapist is still available seeing that the public Psychotherapy program (PQPTM) is still not fully implemented, and is gradually being phased in, in different regions, but not yet in Laval.”

(On a Quebec health ministry website, the Québec Program for Mental Disorders: from Self-Care to Psychotherapy (PQPTM) is described as relying on “a range of services, including self-care, groups, professional support interventions or psychotherapy.” Once it has been deployed, the PQPTM will be available free of charge to all Quebec residents covered by the province’s public health insurance plan.)

Eastern satellite office

As previously announced in the Laval News, Agape will be hiring an additional project coordinator who will focus on community development in the eastern part of Laval. Through the secretariat for relations with Quebec English-speakers, Agape was offered funding for a three-year project that will mainly consist of continuing to represent the needs and priorities of Laval English-speakers.

Agape is contemplating opening its new satellite office somewhere near the Centre Duvernay shopping centre on de la Concorde Blvd. East

The project will also see Agape opening a satellite office in eastern Laval which will be used as a resource, activity and donation centre, although this might not be for several years. McLeod said the organization was contemplating opening the location somewhere near the Centre Duvernay shopping centre on de la Concorde Blvd. East, where the presence of several English-language schools indicates there is a significant English-speaking population.

Positive financials

Despite the enormous challenges presented by the pandemic over the past year-and-a-half, Agape’s financial picture for 2020-2021 is positive.

The organization’s total reported revenues for the period were $776,074, while expenses amounted to $751,245, leaving a surplus of $24,829. Provincial grants provided 37 per cent of revenue, while federal grants accounted for 43 per cent.

Twenty per cent of Agape’s revenues came from donations, self-financing, sales, rent revenues and other sources.