Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dans la Rue - Fighting Poverty in Montreal

Dans La Rue was started in 1988 by Father Emmett Johns as a non-governmental organization aimed at helping youths experiencing poverty in his home city of Montreal, Canada. Dans la rue has since been aiding homeless youth in Montreal for over 20 years and are not ever going to give up on Montreal’s homeless youth population. This report is an Instrumental Case Study of the Dans la Rue organization. It gives insight into what Pops and Dans la Rue have done to help Montreal youth experiencing poverty.

Dans la Rue is a non-governmental, volunteer and donation run organization devoted to helping homeless teens get of the streets and seek a better life. The Dans la Rue organization is very close to home as it is situated in the region of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Dans la Rue organization was founded by Father Emmett Johns in 1988 over twenty years ago, and has been run by him to date. He has become so tightly wound into the Montreal homeless community that he has been given the nickname “Pops” by many of the workers and homeless youth who have come to or been helped by the Dans la Rue organization; this is due to the fact that he has acted like a father figure to so many misguided and homeless youth in his 20 years of helping those in poverty in Montreal. Emmett John started the organization with his very own donation of ten thousand dollars and a Winnebago. Pops later said himself said “The whole operation started with the van in 1988. At that time, we offered hot dogs, hot chocolate and friendship - with no conditions and no judgement” (Canada NewsWire, 2005). He and a small amount of volunteer personnel hand delivering blankets, and hotdogs, and other foods to the homeless youth experiencing poverty they found on the streets of Montreal. Seeing so many young people in poverty with nope hope for a better life in such an economically stable country really got to Pops and he always felt he needed to do more. He said “Twenty years ago, I discovered that some young people were having such terrible experiences that they had lost all hope of a better life. They were alone, living under difficult conditions, without anyone to talk to. They were in need of a friend who would accept them for what they were. A friend who respected and didn't judge them.” (Canada NewsWire 2008) Pops became that friend to so many street youth experiencing poverty in Montreal.

From 1988 to 1993 Pops aimed and worked towards building his very own shelter in the downtown Montreal region to house these youth in poverty for overnight stays. In 1993 this dream was made true when he opened his very own shelter, which he called “The Bunker”. The Bunker was aimed to be a comforting, warm, and open environment in which Montreal’s homeless youth could rise out of their situation and develop hope for a better life; and to help himself learn more about poverty among youth in Montreal and how he could help them the most. The Bunker later purchased by the organization from city of Montreal in 2003 and renovated to feed and house more homeless youths in Montreal; the Dans la Rue organization receives all of its funds from donations from generous donors and big corporations. Pops opened the Chez Pops day centre in 1997 as a place for the youth to come do classes, see counsellors and have something to eat. The Dans la Rue organization acquired several trucks and custom-made motor-homes over their 20 years of existence for distributing donated emergency food bags, clothes, sleeping bags and blankets; from generous donations from large corporations such as Gaz Metropolitain Canadian Pacific, and also anonymous donors. In 2002 Dans la Rue opens a second-hand clothing store called Frip à Froc that hires homeless youth to be trained by Dans la Rue to work there. Dans la Rue is a vital part of the fight against poverty in Montreal; they have and are still contributing enormous amounts of help to the homeless youth in Montreal.