Happy New Year! I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters for an incredible 125th year at Welcome Hall Mission. Because of you, Thanksgiving and Christmas were seasons of celebration, hope and joy. We are just a few weeks into 2018, and already so much is happening at the Mission!

This year I am particularly excited to see the young adults in our programs find the stability, support, and resources they need to build a brighter future. Youth make up approximately 20% of the Canadian homeless population, and the challenges they face can be very complex. In this newest edition of Info Mission, you’ll read about a unique initiative that is helping at-risk adults develop the life skills they need for a brighter future.

In the meantime, winter is not over yet and for thousands of Montrealers facing homelessness, every day is a battle for survival. Please remember to continue to support those in need. Your gift could be saving someone’s life.


Samuel Watts

CEO/Executive Director

Skills Acquisition Program

Anyone who has walked past our kitchens during one of the culinary training sessions will tell you that the cooks are hard-working and enthusiastic about their job! In this year-long training program, participants are developing new practical skills in the culinary arts, and preparing to reintegrate into the workforce.

Mélissa Clément has coordinated the program with creativity and professionalism for over a year. She has 20 years of experience in the culinary industry and a diploma from the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ). Mélissa is passionate about her work! Every day she helps mentor her students, many of whom have lived through challenging circumstances, by developing their culinary skills.

Throughout the course, participants learn to work with fresh, local ingredients they can find easily and cook at home. Participants spend ten hours each week working in our three kitchens on several projects, including catering for our events. They spend an additional ten hours per week receiving support from an intervention worker.

“Our mission is to help underprivileged Montrealers who need the food they are cooking as much as they need the experience of cooking it themselves.” ‑ Mélissa.

This program has an obvious focus on food, but also on love. There is a strong emphasis on giving back. “Their favourite project is preparing and packaging the lunch boxes for the children in our Academic Support program,” Mélissa says, “Many children with stories similar to theirs are benefitting from their work, their art. It’s a beautiful full-circle.”

Participants’ self-confidence and self-discipline soar during the program. They are responsible for their work and take pride in what they accomplish. They are expected to develop an overall vision for their creative projects.

One participant who started the program last January shares her experience: “When I started, I didn’t even know how to cut a carrot or even cook pasta. Now, after 12 months, I have proper knife skills that I could take into a professional kitchen. I used to be quite shy, but now I have more self-confidence. I have been sharing my newfound talent by cooking for my family. It’s great!”

Many of our new cooks are also clients of our Marché Bon Accueil. Mélissa’s vision is to empower participants to create delicious and healthy meals from the ingredients they’re able to access for free.

The culinary training program is proving to be a powerful source of transformation. Thank you to all of our donors who help make this program possible!

To learn more about our other life-changing services, please visit welcomehallmission.com/services

Ross Fraser’s Story of Giving Back

Ross Fraser, former owner of the iconic Montreal furniture store, Fraser Furniture, has become one of Welcome Hall Mission’s most dedicated volunteers and a loyal donor. It started three years ago at Christmas, when Ross was looking for a way to give back to the community and had a strong desire to serve meals to those less fortunate.

After hearing about the Mission through his workplace, he reached out to see if we needed more volunteers. Of course we said yes! He was directed to the men’s emergency shelter where he started volunteering three times a week.

“Serving others has made me appreciate life in all its fullness.” ‑ Ross Fraser, Volunteer Ambassador

Today Ross has taken on the role of volunteer ambassador, welcoming new volunteers to the kitchen team. He is inspired to see many young people getting involved and hopes the community of volunteers will continue to grow. He says, “Serving others has made me appreciate my life in all its fullness. I may be giving, but I’m gaining meaning and perspective in my life in return.”

Welcome Hall Mission wouldn’t be here without our generous supporters—whether you’re volunteering or giving financially. Thank you to everyone who has chosen to be part of our team. Together we are transforming Montreal, one life at a time.

Coming Up in 2018:

Feeding Hungry Montrealers
We are already starting to plan our annual Easter meal and with your help, we’ll be serving plates piled high with delicious and nutritious food. We’re expecting to serve more than 28,000 meals at our various points of service in the four weeks leading up to Easter!

Distributing Free Groceries to Families in Need
Your gifts allow Welcome Hall Mission to distribute food each week to thousands of families in need who are registered with our Marché Bon Accueil.

Our newly acquired building will soon house our second Marché Bon Accueil!

Did you know that 15% of Marché clients travel from Montreal North to Saint- Henri to get their free groceries? That can mean over an hour and a half on public transport each way! In order to help meet these clients’ needs, we are excited to announce we’ll be expanding our services by opening a second Marché Bon Accueil in the heart of Montreal North! The building, constructed as a small grocery store, will need a major renovation. We’ll be launching a campaign to raise funds for the renovations in the weeks to come.