Guiding light of anglo social services group recognized for her contributions
Agape secretary-treasurer Elizabeth ‘Betty’ McLeod, who for many years was the driving force behind the Notre Dame Blvd. social services provider, was reacted with modesty after being presented with the City of Laval’s Hosia Award for social development on Nov. 17.
Although the City of Laval cancelled the usual activities this year surrounding the annual Hosia Awards for volunteerism because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards themselves were presented individually to the 25 people chosen in 2020.
A Hosia statuette was presented to McLeod by Laval city councillor for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, the district where she resides. The presentation took place outside the front entrance of Agape Inc., where staff, family members and friends gathered for several minutes with social distancing to congratulate Betty for her well-deserved recognition from the city.
“Mrs. McLeod has been a volunteer for many, many years, and, of course, volunteerism in Laval is what keeps all our organizations running,” said Trottier, who is also leader of the official opposition in Laval city council.
Betty McLeod said her Hosia Award was “for the wonderful work of all the people who are here [at Agape]. They’re beautiful people.“
‘Extraordinary work,’ said Trottier
“I want to thank you Mrs. McLeod for your dedication, and also to Agape which provides services to an Anglophone clientèle,” he added. “It is very important that all the Anglophones in Laval have access to these kinds of services close to their homes. We will be working with her to meet this objective. Your work is truly extraordinary.”
For her part, Betty, who was momentarily overwhelmed by emotion, said she was “humbled by the experience,” while emphasizing that she felt the Agape staff should also be recognized for their efforts. “I want my staff to enjoy this glorious day, because this is not for me,” she said. “It’s for the wonderful work of all the people who are here. They’re beautiful people. You couldn’t ask for better.”
Importance of volunteerism
In a description of the Hosia Awards on its website, the City of Laval refers to volunteerism as a great asset and “one of the unshakeable foundations of our community. The City of Laval thus hopes to encourage and thank all those women and men who contribute to the 460 organizations in the domains of arts and culture, the environment, leisure, social development and sports,” through a wide range of programs.
The city has been giving out the Hosia Awards since 1984. This year was exceptional, in that normally the awards are handed out during a large gala held in an auditorium, and usually with a major Quebec entertainer performing a show. The COVID-19 pandemic made this impossible this year.
Agape Senior Wellness Centre Provides Flu Vaccine to over 100 Seniors
On Nov. 6 and 11, the Agape charitable organization provided flu shots to approximately 117 seniors at the Senior Wellness Centre in Laval in its latest effort to promote the health and well-being of Laval’s English-speaking language minority community.
“This was such an important event for us,” said Kevin McLeod, executive director at Agape. “This would never have been possible if it weren’t for our local partners at the 24-hour Pharmaprix close to our centre. When we approached pharmacist-owners Issam Merrouni, Mohamed Suhel Jetha and Mahmoud El-Achkar, they were very excited about the idea, stating that they wanted to give back to the community.”
The event aligned well with Agape’s Networking Partnership Initiative (NPI) program, which supports the development and mobilization of community health and social services networks throughout Laval.
Funded by Health Canada and managed by the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), this program engages networks across Quebec with local and regional partners in order to improve access to health and social services for the minority English-speaking population.
“We’re providing support to the public heath system that is so overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic right now,” said McLeod. “We’re building major partnerships with local organizations such as Pharmaprix (situated at 965 boul. Curé-Labelle in Chomedey) and we’re improving access to health services for English-speaking seniors.”
Agape is also in the planning phases, from 2020 to 2023, to hopefully create a larger Senior Wellness Centre that will offer a wide variety of activities, wellness presentations, workshops, outings and courses. McLeod said he is hopeful that once the centre reopens in 2021, it will be bigger and better than ever.
“I’m very thankful to the Agape team who put this together,” he said. “Carla, Varun, Natalina and Ian did a fantastic job and we received many compliments from seniors themselves. Andrew and Marlene were also instrumental in making phone calls to seniors.
“I believe that we were successful in not only providing seniors with hard to get flu shots,” McLeod added. “We were also successful in offering a safe environment including several hand sanitizers, free pens, marked pathways, face masks and 2-metre distancing rules at all times. Important to mention is that we also had two of the most polite pharmacist-owners on the planet who administered the vaccines themselves. Issam and Mohamed were awesome.”
Legion Branch 251 donates $1,000 to Agape
On Nov. 16, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 251’s Christopher Wheatley presented Agape with a donation of $1,000 for Agape’s annual Christmas Food Basket Drive.
“The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 251 has been supporting Agape for many years now and we are so grateful for their support,” said Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod.
“This donation comes at a key time, as we suspect that with the COVID-19 pandemic, donations will be likely to decrease this year,” he added.
Agape’s Annual Christmas Basket campaign will run from Dec. 10 to Dec. 19, and Agape is only receiving monetary, food and new toy donations until the end of 2020. For more information about donations, please visit www.agapeassociationinc.com/donate.