Watch above: A charity in Pierrefonds was supposed to hold a fundraiser at the Diamond Spa in Dorval, but after handing over the money to book the venue for the event, there was a problem. Anne Leclair reports.
MONTREAL – Overture with the Arts is a dynamic non-profit organisation that operates out of Riverdale High School in Pierrefonds. It offers dozens of after-school performing arts classes to underprivileged youth.
Teachers have seen first hand how it changes lives in a positive way.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster, it allows them to express themselves and get affiliated with their body and what they’re able to do,” said Chris Eagleton, a breakdancing instructor.
The classes are free for all students, thanks to generous donations and year-round fundraising efforts.
“We really rely on donations from individuals, we don’t really get funding from the government big grants, so we really do rely on these fundraisers that we hold,” said Akilah Newton, Executive Director and founder of Overture with the Arts.
The last fundraiser was supposed to be held at the Diamond Spa in Dorval, but after handing over the money to book the venue for the event, Newton said the owner was nowhere to be found.
“They have our money, we gave them with a cheque for the venue rental, but they have not contacted us and they owe us about $600 right now,” said Newton.
Just one week before the fundraiser, the charity’s team of volunteers said they were forced to find a new location, and that’s when another business owner stepped in to help.
Mike Vallée of Canvas Montreal even tried to reach out to the Diamond Spa to see what went wrong, before offering to rent out his venue at a low cost.
“It was pretty sketchy, so we were just happy to help out.” said Vallée.
Diamond Spa’s owner refused to respond to the latest allegation, but in a recent interview, Sanaz Noroozi defended her questionable business practices after a long list of customers came forward about an alleged scam.
Watch: Customers feel duped by Diamond Spa
“I don’t think I’ve done a crime, I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I haven’t harmed anybody we haven’t stolen anything from people,” insisted Noroozi, in response to allegations that the spa failed to honour its package deals.
Diamond Spa is currently facing 20 complaints at Quebec’s Office de la protection du consommateur, and about a dozen more with the Commission des normes du travail, for allegedly failing to pay former employees.
Watch: Diamond Spa consumers left high and dry
“I’m trying my best to accommodate everybody for what they’ve purchased,” said Noroozi in a previous interview.
Noroozi finally contacted the charity to refund the full amount, only after she was told that Global News would be broadcasting the story.
She also apparently offered to lend her venue free of charge for the charity’s next fundraising event. An offer they have already refused.
“I think it’s a terrible thing that happened I think it’s horrible to take advantage of a non-profit organization, particularly one like overture with the arts that does so much to contribute to the community,” said Audrey Ottier of the Riverdale Community Learning Centre in Pierrefonds.
Despite the refund, the charity’s founder finds it frustrating to see so many people on the West Island duped by a local business.
“What she’s doing is low, it’s unacceptable and she can’t continue to do this to people.”