For me, the spring of 2019 represents the defining moment that led to my decision to make the big leap and get involved as an active member on the Board of Directors of Chez Doris. My goal was to share my Marketing Communications experience with others in order to help the organization as a volunteer.
In the months preceding my decision, I was searching for a meaningful cause to support. I came to the profound realisation that I wanted to get involved by helping my fellow man. Its kind of a recognition for how lucky I am to have such a good life at such a young age (33). For me, volunteering is a form of psychological balance. A way to give back and show our gratitude for everything we receive from the Universe! I humbly admit that it is my spiritual side, which comes from my mother, which drives me to give of myself without, however, being a person of faith in the literal sense. My mother was always a little involved in doing good for others, not coming from a wealthy family, she saw her parents work hard to ensure quality of life to the 6 children they had. I also grew up watching my parents give Christmas baskets to the poorest people in our city. I think those memories left a positive impression on me that would influence who I was to become as a man.
Over the course of various work terms and during my studies at l’UQAM, I had a few fundraising experiences with some well know Quebec charities without necessarily consciously choosing to be part of them. This all changed when I began fundraising for the Fondation André DD Fortin, which aims to help young people with suicide prevention. This non-profit was created by the mother of well know front man of Quebec band les Colocs, who sadly took his own life a few years ago. Spearheaded by a group of communication students I was a part of, we decided to hold a fundraiser fashion show with proceeds donated in support of the foundation. Through strategic partners, key sponsorships and ticket sales, we were able to donate nearly $10,000 to the non-profit. At the time, being in my early twenties, the sizeable donation had impressed me.
Over the course of my Bachelor in Public Relations, we had to complete two internships. One of my internships, once again through a combination of circumstances, was at the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. In many regards, this foundation is probably the most well known in Quebec, due to the worldwide reputation of this extraordinary children’s hospital. It is a privilege that many Quebecers are oblivious to, but this medical institution is one of the best in the world thanks to its modern facilities and the highly qualified personnel who work there.
Within a few weeks of my work there, I had my first major fundraising experience as an organizer of their radiothon with local celebrities and major media coverage in the greater metropolitan Montreal. This stint made me realize that not all charities have the ability to raise large amounts of funds. Trust me when I tell you that not everyone receives their fair share of the donor pie!
Later on, I joined the Festival juste pour rire organization. I would end up spending a little over 5 years there. My employers at the time Guylaine Lalonde and Gilbert Rozon, were proud supporters of La Maison du Père. La Maison du Père is a men’s shelter that helps the homeless by providing meals, a night shelter, love and a strong sense of self-worth.
Love and self-esteem are the most important elements I retained from my involvement with this foundation, learned over the course of two telethons that we organized for the cause during the Festival juste pour rire in Montreal. I was extremely troubled to learn that 10, 000 homeless live among us in Québec. They are part of our outdoor landscape in many ways and we don’t always take notice of them. Believe me, a smile can change many lives. Keep this in mind the next time you cross paths with someone who is homeless.
Today, I choose to be involved with Chez Doris – a women’s shelter that is still relatively unknown in Quebec. By sharing my various experiences with different charities, I hope to convey that we each choose a cause. Over time, the causes that touch us may change and evolve and it is always a good time to lend our support to make a difference for people in need.
In a way, the Chez Doris Foundation is a little like the little sister of La Maison du Père. I must admit that this is what piqued my initial interest. This shelter operates in the daytime and serves over 40,000 meals per year to women in need. All these women are not necessarily homeless but they are all in dire need of a shoulder to lean on.
The Chez Doris Foundation is overseen by a strong Board of Directors that I am proud to be a part of. Marina, the executive director and her team are truly impressive! They will say that working there is a calling! Ultimately, the next few years will be crucial for this shelter and its plans for growth with the acquisition of a second building in the hopes of increasing its reach. These dreams of expansion will create additional financial responsibilities.
The team currently in place will need to double in size within two years, which will lead to further financial pressure to fund their programs. I hope that during my time with this organization that I succeed in helping Chez Doris appeal to a greater Quebec audience so that the public comes to realize that these women that we help are in many ways someone’s mother. Ask yourselves, what if that were my mother?