Community group gets a little help from their friends

Marc Lalonde
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More than 80 pitch in to help spruce up Amcal Family Services building

At the Amcal Family Services residence building in Pointe Claire last Tuesday, the furnished rooms were in disarray, plastic drop cloths lay pell-mell and paint was splattered everywhere – and the place never looked better.

More than 80 volunteers from a number of community organizations took up Amcal executive director Heather Holmes’ call for help with a project made possible thanks to a grant from the Home Depot Canada Foundation.

The $4,500 grant allowed the non-profit family-services organization to re-paint the 5,000-square-foot building, which houses Amcal’s residential program and offices inPointe Claire Village.

“It’s really nice because the décor we had didn’t match what we are doing here,” Holmes said. “Now we can deliver the high-quality services in a setting that better reflects the level of commitment we have to young people and their families in this community,” she added.

The décor, according to Holmes, “was stuck in the ‘80s,” and a more contemporary setting will help morale for both staff and the group’s clients.

Amcal Family Services is a non-profit organization specializing in helping heal broken families, be it through the group’s residential programs for teens, in-school anti-bullying programs, the Our Place program for young parents and keeps an eye on supervised-visitation programs for estranged parents, among other services.

Amcal residential child-care specialist and supervised-visitation facilitator Jeff Andrews supervised volunteers in the residence’s upstairs bedrooms and thinks the teens in the program will get a kick out of their temporary home’s new look.

“I think they will – it’s a lot more modern. The approach we take here is that we’re all one unit, and I think they’ll appreciate the hard work we put in today. We have a good group of teens here now, and I think they’ll like what we’ve done,” said Andrews, adding the current group of teen residents – who were conveniently, out of the building during the busiest part of the renovation -- will be “contributing as part of the cleanup effort.”

Volunteers came from the Beaconsfield Oldtimers Association, the Lac St. Louis CLSC, Amcal’s board of directors, West Island Community Shares, service organizations and old-fashioned friends and family.

Pointe Claire resident Natasha Neveu braved the stifling humidity in the building to paint from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The 24-year-old volunteered her time at the building because “wanted to help out,” after going through the Our Place program, while fellow Pointe Claire resident Jesse Paterson – a longtime friend of Holmes’ –said he wanted to help out because this is the best way he could.

“I don’t have enough money to give them, but I have the time. I’ve also known Heather since I was 11, so that’s why I’m here,” he said.

Organizations: Amcal, Home Depot Canada Foundation, Beaconsfield Oldtimers Association

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, Claire Village, West Island Community

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