The summer BBQ held annually by Accueil Bonneau (AB) is a happy event in the lives of the many disadvantaged people who use the services provided by this 143-year-old charity. Started by the Grey Nuns of Montreal as a mission to feed the poor in old Montreal, the charity today provides 298,000 meals every year for anyone in the community who is hungry.
Wells Fargo volunteers, led by Youssef Jaber, have shown their commitment to their community by dedicating many hours of their personal time to support the charity. In addition to helping out with the summer event, they have also arranged for Wells Fargo to make a monetary contribution annually to support the charity’s important work.
Along with the meals served, the managers and social workers at AB provide numerous other free services – from help with medical and addiction issues, to providing clothing and haircuts. A major area of concern is helping the homeless find temporary, and eventually long-term housing. The charity runs four buildings locally, with fifty apartments in each building, where homeless individuals can live until they are able to re-integrate back into society.
There are many reasons that may lead to a person becoming homeless – separation, divorce, alcohol, drugs, mental illness, or just a run of bad luck. Many of the current volunteers at the charity were once individuals who received help from AB to get back on their feet. Now they are giving back to AB.
It’s not easy. Sometimes people are in a very bad state, yet the AB workers persist against the odds and often it pays off. A recent example was a man who had been living on the streets down by the port for over twenty years, refusing all social assistance. He would come into AB for meals and eventually, over a long period, he grew to trust the workers and accepted their help. As a result, he spent the last 6 months of his life in a warm apartment and was able to pass with dignity.
For the Wells Fargo team, volunteering and spending time with AB provides a new perspective on their community and the challenges to be overcome. For all participants, the BBQ is a focal point that builds relationships, provides some fun, and supports the great work done by AB on a daily basis.