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Montreal homeless drop-in centre keeps doors open throughout holidays

Creating a new holiday tradition for the homeless
WATCH: A new drop-in centre for the homeless near Cabot Square is proving very popular during the holiday season as Raquel Fletcher discovered.

Resilience Montreal, a drop-in day centre that opened its doors to the homeless last month, is staying open throughout the Christmas holidays to provide hot Christmas lunch and a warm place to relax for those who need it most.

Jesse Blacksmith comes to the centre everyday while his wife, Rachel is at work.

The couple is spending the holidays together, but on Tuesday they wanted to come and share some Christmas cheer with the people who got them through a rough year.

READ MORE: New drop-in centre for Montreal’s homeless opens near Cabot Square

“I came here to wish my friends Merry Christmas and came here for the warm meal, too,” Jesse said.

Thanks to Resilience Montreal, he has been sober for one month.

“I had a major drinking problem and they sent me to detox,” he said.

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“It would have taken weeks, but they helped him get in as soon as possible,” Rachel explained. “And I was very grateful for that and so I wanted to show my appreciation by coming here.

READ MORE: Chez Doris hosts its annual Christmas Party for vulnerable and homeless women

“Right now, there’s definitely a lot of gratitude, a lot of gratitude. I think that’s what you feel when you walk in the building,” said Margo Buchanan.

Buchanan, a university student, has put in 300 volunteer hours since the day centre opened last month.

Focus Montreal: Homelessness in winter
Focus Montreal: Homelessness in winter

The centre provides food as well as medical and mental health support for those struggling with addiction or homelessness and it is one of the few centres open during the holidays.

READ MORE: ‘Someone needs to step up’: Homeless crisis brewing in Montreal’s Cabot Square

“Come here, there’s amazing food. I mean, seriously, there’s food everywhere,” said Nakuset, Resilience Montreal co-administrator.

“I’m on vacation, but I’m still going to be there to make sure things are running smoothly, to run out to get whatever’s needed, to make sure there’s enough food, make sure there’s eggnog,” she said.

“Whatever is considered festive, we’re going to do.”

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The centre has received a generous amount of donations this Christmas season, even if they could use a few more volunteers.

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“We don’t need food donations now on the holidays, we don’t necessarily even need more clothes donations,” Buchanan said.

“We don’t need those things, we just need people who are willing to come fold it.”

READ MORE: In fight against homelessness, Montreal and Quebec announce funding for local services, wet shelter

Volunteers and staff want to make the holidays at Resilience memorable for people who might otherwise not have had a very merry Christmas.

“We’re really hoping to make this special for them,” Nakuset said, “and to have this become like a tradition for them.”

This week and next week, Resilience will be open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. In January, it will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

From homelessness to academia
From homelessness to academia