Montreal’s Dans la rue showcased its new outreach van at Emmet Johns Park on Wednesday.
Father Emmet Johns, more commonly known as “Pops,” founded Dans la rue in 1988 to help homeless youth in Montreal. After Father Johns’ passing in 2018, his influence is still leading the way for those who continue to make a difference.
“The one thing he showed us is, helping people is contagious, and people do feel better about themselves when they help others, and people receiving the help are probably more likely to pass that on to somebody else in the future as well” said Kristin McNulty, an intervention worker for Dans la rue.
McNulty stressed that without the van, it would be harder to help at-risk youth.
“This is usually the first step to getting them off the streets,” she said. “Without having that first base, youth wouldn’t learn about the rest of the programs we have to offer.”
Dans la rue has an emergency shelter, a day centre, an apartment complex and a school program called “Chez Pops” to help cater to any needs for youth experiencing homelessness.
Van crew chief Eddie Dikranian, says he’s worried about more than getting youth fed and clothed. For him it’s about establishing personal relationships that will encourage the youth to continue to use their services.
“This new bus is more friendly for the kids, it’s set up like a school bus” he said. “There’s benches so we can speak to them one-on-one instead of having everyone hearing what what they have to say.”
Not only is Dans la rue helping youth in need, but the organization is doing it’s part to help the environment as well. The new van runs entirely on renewable natural gas, which emits, a smaller carbon footprint. It is the first vehicle of it’s kind to hit the road in Montreal.