The new year has begun and there are still months of winter weather ahead. For those sleeping outside, the cold weather can quickly become life-threatening. We are seeing many clients arrive with cases of frostbite, hypothermia, and severe exhaustion. In times like this, the dangers of winter become devastatingly clear. But, thanks to support from donors like you, we have been able to extend our services and space on the coldest days to welcome more struggling Montrealers in from the bitter cold. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has generously given to provide warm clothing and safe shelter this winter. You are truly helping to save lives. As you read the current issue of Info Mission, you’ll read how your gifts are transforming the lives of Montrealers in need, giving them the skills they need for a fresh start. I hope you’ll enjoy the stories of hope and transformation that donors like you have made possible. Looking ahead to another year of dedicated service, I hope you will continue to work with us to provide Shelter, Food, and Love to Montrealers who need it most. With appreciation,

Samuel Watts

CEO/Executive Director

How Culinary Skills Transformed Maude’s Life

Maude’s face breaks into a sweet smile as she reaches out to accept her certificate. She’s just completed Welcome Hall Mission’s culinary skills acquisition program, and she’s the youngest from her group. Maude’s mother stands in the front row of the conference room, tears rolling down her cheeks, brimming with pride. “Bravo, Maude,” she exclaims as she leaves the audience to embrace her daughter. A few years ago, her mother couldn’t have dreamed that this day might be possible. Maude grew up in the east end of Montreal. Like many teenagers, she went through a rebellious stage, but for her, it spiralled into a destructive cycle of drug and alcohol abuse. When her stepfather passed away, Maude had nowhere to live, and drifted between friends’ houses, sleeping on their couches.

“On the streets, I was miserable. I thought I would never make it. But I have learned that if you make the effort, you can do it!” – Maude

Everything started to turn around when a friend introduced Maude to Youth Services at the Mission. Thanks to donors like you, Maude could enjoy a nutritious meal in a safe environment. She met an intervention worker who helped her start making choices for a healthier lifestyle. When Maude learned she could join our one-year culinary program, she eagerly signed up. Through this program, Maude became part of a supportive unit that not only prepared delicious food, but also gave her life the meaning she had longed for. Some days weren’t easy, but she learned how to take it one day at a time. Maude now works in the kitchen at Welcome Hall Mission’s emergency shelter, preparing meals for 250 people every night. In September, Maude was on the team when top-shelf chefs in St-Henri joined together to produce a delectable feast for 77 people in a local park. Then, she worked side-by-side with the Montreal Alouettes, serving a special Thanksgiving dinner to men in the shelter. “Sometimes, I want to pinch myself when I realize the opportunities I have been given,” says Maude. Maude is celebrating more than a year and a half drug and alcohol free. She has an apartment, and is very proud of her perseverance and determination. Stories like Maude’s are made possible by Montrealers like you. Your support helps people rewrite their life stories­—thank you for your life-changing generosity!

I’ve Walked In Their Shoes!

Before earning an Executive MBA and having a successful banking career, Gilles suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts and eventually found himself living on the streets. He had grown up in an upper middle-class family, but social standing couldn’t prevent mental illness and its associated struggles. “I’m not ashamed,” he says.

“I worked hard to get back on track but couldn’t have done it without help from shelters…I have absolute admiration for organizations like Welcome Hall Mission. My humble monthly donation is the least I can do." – Gilles

Now retired and battling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gilles has limited amounts of time during each day when he has the energy to go out, but he seized on a recent invitation to visit the Mission. “I was amazed at the scope of the Mission’s work,” says Gilles. We’re incredibly grateful to Gilles for his outstanding generosity as a monthly donor. Gilles says, “Becoming a monthly donor means I never have to worry about forgetting to make a donation.” It’s easy for you to make a big impact for Montrealers in need by joining our compassionate community of monthly donors!

Thanks to Donors Like You!

Looking back on last year, it is amazing to see how donors like you have helped to change so many lives. We can’t say thank you enough! Right now, as we all focus on keeping warm during these cold winter months, it’s hard to imagine that Easter is right around the corner. At Welcome Hall Mission, our kitchen staff are already planning the annual Easter meal. With your help, we’ll serve plates filled with delicious and nourishing food to Montrealers who may be feeling hungry, tired and alone. Generous support from donors like you makes our Easter meal possible. Thank you!