West Island food bank was struggling with increased demand, leaky roof — then the delivery van broke down – Montreal
First, the ceiling caved in.
On Rock, a charity in Pierrefonds more than 300 families are relying on for food this winter, had to close for a couple days in early January while staff and volunteers cleared wet pieces of crumbled insulation that had fallen onto the floor.
Founder and president Kim Reid says it’s been a trying start to 2018, as the organization tries to help almost twice the number of people it has the usual capacity to help with only 9,000-square feet of space.
He said the food bank has already had to put 70 families on a waiting list.
“The worst part of it is looking them in the eye and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you right now,'” Reid said on CBC Montreal’s Daybreak Monday morning.
Then, the van broke down. The charity uses it to deliver food to 50 families every week and to pick up donations from grocery stores.
But last Friday, it started making a foreboding sound.
“We took it to a mechanic and he basically said, ‘You’ve got to scrap it,” Reid said of the vehicle donated to On Rock by Hockey Helps the Homeless.
Volunteers have had to use their own cars instead.
Asylum seekers need help in the West Island
Reid said among the people who need help this year are families who crossed the U.S. border in Lacolle to seek asylum.
“They’re arriving, a lot of them with summer shoes, no coats, nothing. They bring nothing with them,” Reid said, adding many of the asylum seekers are still waiting for their work permits and need help making ends meet.
Many asylum seekers crossed several borders in the hopes of settling in the U.S. or Canada. To have to turn them away, “it’s devastating for them … and for our volunteers as well,” Reid said.
He said he believes Haitian and African communities in the West Island are what’s attracted claimants to the area.
But without help, Reid said the waiting list for families at On Rock will just keep getting longer.
“Honestly, we really need money and we need to pay for space, and we need to come up with a van,” he said, explaining the food bank needs to find a space double its current size, but can’t afford it right now.
He says anyone willing to donate can do so on the organization’s website onrock.org.