Winning Goals

Montreal Canadiens Alumni came out to feed the hungry at Federation CJA’s Hockey Night at Le Café. 

Chris Nilan and Gilbert Delorme: Shutting out hunger.

Chris Nilan and Gilbert Delorme: Shutting out hunger.

The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Association and Federation CJA joined forces March 4th for a charity power play that saw former Canadiens hockey players Chris Nilan and Gilbert Delorme volunteering at Le Café where thrilled diners were treated to the surprise of a lifetime.

Established in 2009 to address the needs of people most affected by the global economic crisis, Le Café provides free hot, kosher meals twice weekly in a warm, respectful environment. Every week, more than 450 people in need benefit from the services at Le Café, with over 120,000 meals served to date. More than 10 percent of patrons are children.

Diners are treated to a hockey-themed evening at Federation CJA’s Le Café.

Diners are treated to a hockey-themed evening at Federation CJA’s Le Café.

“When I moved back to Montreal I wanted to be involved in the community and be of service to others“, said Nilan, who the recipients warmly greeted as “Knuckles”.  “It’s great that our President Réjean Houle always encourages the guys in the Alumni Association to volunteer, and opportunities like this – being here tonight— it means a lot to me.”

Nilan, who won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with Montreal and is currently hosting his own program, “Off the Cuff”, on TSN Radio 690, talks openly about his past problems with addiction. He is involved in numerous social and charitable causes, and was eager to volunteer when he heard about Le Café.  As was Gilbert Delorme, who spent nine seasons as a defenceman in the NHL after he was selected by Montreal in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft in the first round.

“I think it’s important to give back, and I enjoy people, so I like doing this,” Delorme reflected while slicing into lasagna.  “We’re involved in a lot of charitable causes with the Alumni Association and while it’s fun for the recipients, it’s always fun and rewarding for us, too. I like doing this. No; I love doing this!”

“And he cuts lasagna better than he stick handles,” laughs Nilan.

Gilbert Delorme helps prep food in the kitchen before dinner is served at Le Café.

Gilbert Delorme helps prep food in the kitchen before dinner is served at Le Café.

While Le Café feeds the hungry, it also offers an important opportunity to socialize with other diners, and with the volunteers and staff.  “Regardless of what happens outside the walls of Le Café, when we sit down together for dinner during the winter months, the conversation almost always turns to hockey. It’s something we all have in common, no matter where we come from.  It makes everyone feel as though they belong, it unites,” said longtime volunteer Marnie Welikovitch.

“I knew the Alumni Association was involved in philanthropic causes and wondered if I could get the ball rolling…  Seeing the smiles on the faces here tonight, the outcome has been nothing short of perfect.”

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