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The Community Relay of Laval

Involvement and solidarity are key actions to adapt to change and to continue the mission of love that is transmitted to them.

The great heart of our founderesses

During the preparations for Christmas 1982, one of the founders, Ms. Rita Gaudreau, was touched by the poverty around her and felt challenged to do something for the poor. In 1983 Rita contacted a friend Ms. Andrée Paquet and they decided to get involved at Accueil Bonneau (Montreal).

To their great surprise, the person in charge, Pauline Vachon, returns them to Laval and tells them “get involved in Laval and respond to the great needs of your community”. This word becomes a mission sending to debounce the Community Relay.

A third person, Nicole Gauvin, manifested some interest in setting up the organization and comes to assist our founders in finding a location in the Pont-Viau district.

Our founderesses are embarking on an unknown path.

The search for grants, partners to implement the new project; the establishment of a Board of Directors; perseverance, availability, boldness, trust and above all community solidarity were required to bring this new organism to life; Without the participation of the different partners, it would have been even more difficult to achieve the objectives set.

March 19, 1984 - Opening of the Relay, a new community organization in Laval

The Relay opens its doors in the basement of St Christophe’s Church, five lunches a week, offering free soup and sandwiches for 12 people in the neighbourhood.

The founderesses, who became employees subsidized by Canada Labour and ten volunteers took care of the various tasks of cooking, purchasing, supplying, administration and maintenance to provide quality service.

The shared meal becomes the meeting place. To better meet a need and procure a meaningful presence to the persons, they added to the lunch menu, the complete hot meal at the price of ]Le Relais ouvre ses portes au sous-sol de l’église St Christophe, cinq midis par semaine en offrant gratuitement une soupe et des sandwichs pour 12 personnes du quartier.

Les fondatrices devenues employées subventionnées par Canada Travail et dix bénévoles voient aux différentes tâches de la cuisine, des achats, d’approvisionnement, de l’administration et de l’entretien pour offrir un service de qualité.

Le repas partagé devient le lieu de la rencontre. Pour mieux répondre à un besoin, pour mieux être une présence signifiante auprès des personnes, on ajoute au menu du midi, le repas chaud complet au prix de 0.75 $

Les fondatrices aiment organiser des fêtes et dès la première année, à la suggestion de la clientèle, on célèbre la magie de Noël en offrant un repas chaud traditionnel et des cadeaux aux bénéficiaires. 170 personnes sont présentes. Tous les membres de la famille sont conviés à ce grand rassemblement.[.75

The founderesses love to organize parties and from the first year, at the suggestion of the clientele, the magic of Christmas is celebrated by offering a traditional hot meal and gifts to the beneficiaries. 170 people were present. All members of the family were invited to this great gathering.

The ousted Relay is looking for a location in the Pont-Viau district

The relay must leave its premises as soon as possible, it was evicted by the Parish.

The foundresses were put in evidence and more than ever they must believe in the merits of the Relay. Despite the disappointment and the feeling of not being recognized, they set out to save the Relay and defend it.

A press conference was held by the Courrier de Laval “The ousted Relay is looking for a local in the district of Pont-Viau”.

After many steps and several interventions, the Parish St-Julien Emard opens its doors and welcomes the organization. In 1988, the Relay relocated and moved to its new premises.

On the other hand, one of the founders, Nicole dies of a cancer, which was the greatest loss and a truely difficult moment for the founderesses, also the customers who lived this mourning.

Ms. Suzanne Labrie succeeds Ms. Nicole Gauvin.

After nine years, the Relay moves to its new premises

In the spring of 1997, the Relay became the owner of a building at 111 boul des Laurentides, in the Pont-Viau sector.

It’s a new start and everyone is winning. The space that the Relay now occupies

makes it possible to offer better customer service.

Ms. Suzanne Labrie then leaves her position as Director and Ms. Janette Delisle takes the lead.

The move, the change of management, change in the staff, new middle agent, new members of the Board. New volunteers will bring a renewed life to the Relay.

New services were set up, meals on wheels, food prepared to provide food security and the opening of thrift stores to meet clothing needs.

Personal growth workshops, painting workshops, DIY workshops, educational conferences, resourcefulness, exchange groups are offered to the members of the clientele to encourage care. All these workshops encourage people in vulnerable situations to move towards greater autonomy.

The sense of celebration is still as strong as ever. Special events to celebrate different festivities together are planned throughout the year.

The Relay became large, more than 850 Laval households come during the year and use the various services offered, which represents nearly 27,000 people.

The involvement of the Board, the solidarity of the community and the volunteers make it possible to meet the challenge

2002-2003 – Ms. Janette Delisle’s departure leads to the restruction of the organization. Always in order to continue the work undertaken by the three founderesses, Rita, Andrée and Nicole, the Relay must once again roll up the sleeves and move forward.

The relay exists thanks to the determination of several people who participated and ensured the smooth running of services and activities. Thanks to the contribution of several actors who, through their involvement, have invested in maintaining this “human” approach, which is always associated with the Relay.

A new team takes over

The change in the status of the Relay as a day centre forced a big restructuring because it leads to the expansion of the clientele. The new grant opens the doors of the Relais to Laval’s homeless by providing them a sandwich soup, a shelter for the day and clothing assistance.