The place to be in community

Photo: Vadim Daniel

On any given Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, you can find hundreds of people with smiles on their faces, enjoying good food and good company in a warm and welcoming environment. This is not the newest hot spot restaurant, it is not a trendy bistro and it is not the upscale, popular coffee shop – what it is, is Le Café.

“The people who come and dine at Le Café come from all walks of life. They are old, young, some employed, some not. Whole families come in. The bigger the crowd, the happier I am. That means that we are important, that we are making a difference. We can be counted on to be there for community and it’s great to be part of that,” said Marshall Duskes, who volunteers weekly at Le Café.

Le Café was started in March of 2009, at the height of the economic crisis, to offer people in need free, hot, nutritious meals in a dignified environment. Open every Tuesday and Thursday, almost three years later, it’s obvious that the need not only still exists, but is also growing. The demand has led to Le Café opening on Wednesday evenings as well, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and the volunteers who keep Le Café running.

“Le Café is extremely vital. I heard the other day that one Tuesday or Thursday, we gave out over 320 meals, so you can see the impact that it has. Le Cafe is special because the results are immediate. We see people who are happy and not hungry. When I’m working my table and getting the meals out, I feel the importance of the Le Cafe mandate,” Duskes explained. “The hardest part for me is seeing the children come in….wonderful kids, all smiling. They don’t know the situation….. When I first started volunteering and I saw them, it broke my heart. But when I thought about it more, I felt that it was better that their parents came in as opposed to maybe having too much pride and not coming to dine with us and the kids possibly not getting the nourishment they need.”

Photo: Vadim Daniel

Thanks to the support of UPS Canada, Le Café will now be better able to serve people in need. Just announced this week, UPS is giving a one-time grant of $85,300 USD to Le Café to provide for the necessary upgrades to the cafeteria facilities to “go green”, as well as to increase the capacity of the kitchen.

“UPS’s extraordinary generosity is exemplary of how the corporate and non-profit sectors can partner together to ensure the betterment of community. Through UPS’s outstanding commitment to Le Café, Federation CJA will be able to improve service to the thousands of people who depend on the kitchen annually,” David Cape, President of Federation CJA said. “With over 60,000 meals having been served since Le Café’s inception, this grant will enable the upgrade of the kitchen and facilities and the purchase of new equipment.”

While this welcome news will allow Le Café to continue to serve so many people in a much more effective and efficient manner, including expanding by an additional 55 seats, what’s most important for volunteers and patrons is simply that Le Café is here for all those in need.

“Le Café is an incredibly important part of what we do in the community,” Duskes said, encouraging people to volunteer there. “If you want to see how the Jewish community uses its resources to help others and you want to see it first-hand, Le Café is the place. It is one hundred per cent hands-on and you are face-to-face with those who directly benefit. When I finish my work at Le Café, there is a part of me that feels topped off – a void has been filled.”

Located in the heart of Cote-des-Neiges / Snowdon, Le Café is open and welcoming to all those who are hungry and in need of help in the Montreal community. People from all backgrounds and walks of life benefit from Le Café, from seniors to families to those with intellectual difficulties. Le Café is located at the Cummings Centre cafeteria, 5700 Westbury Avenue. Dinner service is every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

Leave a comment

Reader comments are the opinion of the comment writer, not Federation CJA

Comments that make false or unsubstantiated allegations will not be published, nor will comments that contain defamatory, inaccurate, rude, distasteful, disrespectful, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or threatening language.

Comments that use hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge also may not be permitted.

Federation CJA reserves the right to withhold from publication comments that are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted. Comments that include personal attacks on other people taking part in this website and/or are invasive of another's privacy may also be withheld from publication.

Spelling and grammatical mistakes will not be corrected.