As the holiday season approaches, I am filled with gratitude for your incredible generosity and involvement. Your support has made an extraordinary impact on the lives of those we serve.

In this fall newsletter, we share stories that highlight how your kindness changes lives. From providing warm meals to bringing holiday cheer, your contributions make a real difference every day.

You’ll hear about our Back to School event and how you ensured that children have the tools they need to succeed academically, setting them on a path to a brighter future.

We also have an update on our PRISM program and how it’s bridging the gap between mental health care and homelessness.

Your support is not just providing services today; it’s an investment in a better tomorrow. It’s about setting people up for their own version of success and independence, creating lasting change that ripples through generations.

Thank you for being a part of our mission. Together, we are making the holiday season—and every season—brighter for Montreal’s most vulnerable!

With heartfelt thanks,

Samuel Watts

CEO/Executive Director

Albert’s Journey Through Homelessness and Mental Illness

Born in Montreal in the late 1950s, Albert will never forget the day he was admitted to the Douglas Mental Health Hospital at just ten years old. 

His family left him there for treatment. In the six years Albert spent there, his family visited so seldom that he doesn’t even remember who used to come. Eventually, they stopped coming altogether.

“I felt very alone… abandoned. I was heavily medicated, which made me feel wired and at the same time entirely unable to express myself,” Albert recalls with a somber note in his voice.

When he was just 17, he was released from the mental health hospital. From there, he lived for less than a year with a foster family. Then he officially became homeless at 18 years old. 

Albert spent the next 40 years on the streets. He struggled on and off with substances over the years, but they were never his biggest obstacle. His problem was always his untreated mental illness. 

“I just don’t have the ability to do some of the things that people take for granted,” says Albert. “Like looking for an apartment or attending a job interview. No one ever taught me those kinds of skills.”

Then, just over a year ago, a social worker referred Albert to Welcome Hall Mission and the PRISM program. 

For the first time, Albert had a case manager who was fully dedicated to helping him, to getting to the root of his issues—someone who truly listened and advocated for what he needed. 

“Finally, I can ask for help. Meals at the Mission are friendship and love. After living outside for decades, I was accepted, treated with kindness and curiosity. For the first time in my life, I felt like I finally belonged.”

Through the PRISM program, he got long-needed treatment for his mental illness and received help finding housing. Today he is safely, permanently housed for the first time. And he loves it! At almost 66 years old, he appreciates being able to come home at the end of the day and just rest. 

He is still seeing his intervention worker regularly, attending appointments, and working hard to process his trauma and grief, all while trying to learn new life skills like cooking and caring for his very own space. 

Albert is so grateful for the help he has received, saying, “If it weren’t for Welcome Hall Mission, I would 100% still be homeless.” 

Thank you so much for making stories like Albert’s possible. 

PRISM is Redefining Mental Health Support

The PRISM program was specifically designed to bridge the gap between hospitals and shelters. It was launched five years ago in partnership with the other five major shelters with CIUSS West-Central Montreal and the Jewish General Hospital. 

PRISM is a short-term health unit where people are given a bed, a locker, access to a communal living space and daily consultations. The PRISM team consists of a doctor, nurse, psychiatrist and social worker who all address different needs and aspects of care.  

Generally, individuals are able to progress towards independent living after three months of personalized daily care. Once housed, a case worker continues to offer them long-term support for their unique needs. 

Dr. Vincent Laliberte, our PRISM psychologist, recently published a paper, you can find it here. Some highlights include:

  • Of the 579 users included in the study, 63% were housed when discharged from the PRISM facility (52% in permanent housing and 11% in temporary settings).
  • At program discharge, 492 (85%) were referred to and engaged in some kind of outpatient or community services support.
  • After a period of stabilization at a PRISM facility, more than half of the users (individuals experiencing homelessness and severe mental illness) were housed, usually in a permanent setting, with ongoing support provided by existing mental health services.
  • 85% of the users were referred to and engaged in one service or another.

Your generosity helps mental health experts give individuals who are struggling the tools and resources they need to improve their quality of life and focus on building a brighter future. Thank you!

Promoting Mental Health Awareness with Just for Laughs

For the third year in a row, the Just for Laughs festival once again partnered with Welcome Hall Mission to promote the transformative relief that laughter has on mental health. 

The partnership was an enormous success again this year with ambassador comedians like Alonzo Boden, Judy Gold and Neev touring the Welcome Hall Mission facilities, donation posters across festival grounds and a $10,000 donation by the Just for Laughs organization to Welcome Hall Mission.

This partnership is so special, in part due to the growing recognition of the importance of mental health awareness, understanding, and adequate services. At the Mission, we are passionate about mental health awareness, advocacy, and helping people access the care they need—removing barriers for our city’s most vulnerable to get the care they need. 

Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make this event a success!