Compassion, empathy, listening, openness to others
Have you ever wondered about the women who provide the services for Montreal’s homeless women at the Old Brewery Mission? It turns out they’re extremely strong and filled with hope. We caught up with them to talk about what they do to help others on a daily basis and how they make a difference to Montreal’s most vulnerable women.
Misery doesn’t keep to a schedule, which is why the staff at the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion are on standby 24/7. Because it’s not uncommon for a crisis to break out on Christmas Eve, the support teams who work with the homeless are poised to swing into action whenever they’re needed. The women who end up at 1301 de Maisonneuve E. can show up at any time—be it in the middle of the night or just before supper time—and when they do, they’re always greeted by a warm and friendly team willing to listen to them and offer them a safe place to rest and a bite to eat. But those are just the bare necessities, and unless we can meet basic needs, anything more is impossible.
The Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion is the largest women’s shelter in Canada, with 55 emergency and transition beds. Director Florence Portes is supported by a team of workers, intervention counsellors, supervisors and coordinators, and together they step up every day to help the women who turn to the Old Brewery Mission in their time of need.
Twenty years helping homeless women in Montreal: Now, that’s something to celebrate! For more information about the benefit gala that took place on May 7, visit the Mission pour Elles website.
Challenging and rewarding work
The employees in Women’s Services offer homeless women a sympathetic ear, a warm welcome and psychosocial support, and that takes no shortage of strength and courage. Their ability to keep the faith for these women is a key factor in staying motivated in the long term. As a team, the employees discuss the best strategies for helping and supporting the women at their own pace, in a way that best meets their needs. Ultimately, their goal is to make sure that each woman at the Mission has access to clean, affordable and safe housing, allowing her to one day return to the community. We firmly believe in the principle of social mixing and refuse to relegate the homeless population to just one part of the city. This is no small feat given the cost and availability of housing units, yet the team still manages to make it work.
The face of women’s homelessness
Each woman who turns up on our doorstep has a story and a distinctive personality. As a team, it’s our duty to help each one of them with kindness and compassion. Homelessness is often the product of other underlying problems. The team of workers and intervention counsellors who work with these women are confronted with a range of mental health issues and addiction problems, and it’s not uncommon to see women who are dealing with several issues at the same time. Other women have suffered sexual, physical or financial abuse, and our role as a team is to pair them with community or public partners who can back us up in giving these women the help they need. At the Patricia Mackenzie Pavilion, empowerment isn’t a word we take lightly—we truly want to give women power back over their own lives.
Join our team
Think you have what it takes to become part of our team? You believe in our Mission and have experience counselling adults?