FILIA Association for Seniors holds fourth annual Walk a Thon in Laval

Group has been focusing on making more services available in Laval

The 17th annual FILIA Walk a Thon on Sept 16, which was also the fourth held in Laval, drew a loyal following of FILIA supporters, as well as elected officials who have provided help to the organization over the years.

It was a good day for a refreshing walk in and around the streets surrounding St. Norbert Park in eastern Chomedey, in order to raise awareness of the needs of senior citizens – which include regular physical exercise.

FILIA executive-director Johanna Tsoublekas speaks to FILIA supporters before they set off on their walk around Saint Norbert Park on Sept. 16. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

An expanding mission

The Walk a Thon is held in September every year as a fundraiser for the FILIA meals-on-wheels program. While FILIA’s mission at one time was to provide assistance to Greek women of the Parc Extension Hellenic community, although later throughout Montreal, the organization’s mandate now is to serve senior citizens and people from all backgrounds.

While FILIA held its Walk a Thon during its first 13 years in Parc Extension (which is still regarded by most Hellenic Montrealers as the centre of the Montreal Greek community), the organization has been focusing increasingly on making its services available in Laval, while continuing to offer services in Parc Ex.

Crucial Meals on Wheels

Led for many years by Johanna Tsoublekas who continues to provide leadership, FILIA’s services include home housekeeping and supervision, volunteer training and a healthcare clinic for the feet.

Walkers make their way along streets around Saint Norbert Park on Sept. 16 during the FILIA 2023 Walk a Thon event. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

“Meals on wheels is an important service that FILIA provides,” said Mary Deros, the Montreal city councillor for Parc Extension where FILIA used to stage the Walk a Thon.

FILIA volunteers Rikard Shpori (left) and Zissis Fotopoulos prepare lunch for participants in the 2023 FILIA Walk a Thon event. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

(It’s held in Laval now as the demographics for the organization’s base clientele have shifted from Parc Ex to Chomedey.) “It means a lot to the people who receive Johanna’s services,” she added. “The support that FILIA offers is priceless.”

Laval needs FILIA

Laval city councillor for the district of Souvenir-Labelle Sandra El-Helou, an associate member of the executive-committee with responsibilities for senior citizens’ issues, has been focusing increasingly on FILIA, as well as on how the group can help the city meet Laval senior citizens’ needs.

“Every year I come to the walk to show my support for FILIA and also to thank them for the amazing job they do on the ground with our elderly population,” she told the Laval News. She said that following the Covid pandemic, FILIA has been responding to a valuable need by helping to get many seniors back on their feet for some exercise outdoors.

Greetings from Koutrakis

Aaron Stafford, a political attaché for Vimy Member of Parliament Annie Koutrakis, said Koutrakis was unable to attend the Walk a Thon as she was just returning from London, Ontario where members of the federal Liberal Party caucus were attending a retreat with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in preparation for Parliament’s fall session.

From the left, Laval city councillor for the district of Souvenir-Labelle Sandra El-Helou, FILIA volunteer Rikard Shpori, Montreal city councillor for Parc Extension Mary Deros and FILIA executive-director Johanna Tsoublekas were all smiles for the group’s 17th annual Walk a Thon on Sept. 16. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Laval News)

“She sends her greetings,” he said, noting that Koutrakis has always been very close to the Laval and Montreal Greek communities. “She would have loved to have been here, but she had something else very important to attend, unfortunately.”