FILIA Association for Senior Citizens celebrates 35th anniversary

With services in Montreal and Laval, group has been helping seniors since 1984

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FILIA Association for Senior Citizens celebrates 35th anniversary
From the left, former MP Eleni Bakopanos, Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros, FILIA founder Joanna Tsoublekas and Peter Deros. Photo: Martin C. Barry
Martin C. Barry

Members and friends of the FILIA Association for Senior Citizens gathered at the Château Royal convention centre in Chomedey on Nov. 24 to celebrate a rare milestone – the organization’s 35th anniversary.

Since its establishment in February 1984, the FILIA Senior Citizens Association has been promoting the care and well-being of senior citizens. Initially it was in Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood. In more recent years it has been active in Chomedey and Laval.

Helping the seniors

Through a number of diverse activities and charitable events, FILIA works to ensure that elderly members of the community can continue to enjoy an independent and dignified life in a comfortable environment, while remaining connected to their rich culture and heritage.

“Not enough attention is paid to older people,” FILIA founder Joanna Tsoublekas said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia. “We are an organization that has a mission and dreams to build and meet the needs to make life easier for the older generation.”

A big guest list

Among the special guests at the early afternoon gala were the Consul General for Greece in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis, the MNA for Chomedey Guy Ouellette, Laval city councillor for Souvenir-Labelle Sandra El Helou, Liberal MP for Saint-Laurent Emmanuella Lambropoulos, Montreal city councillor for Park Extension Mary Deros, Laurier-Dorion MNA Andrés Fontecilla and former Liberal MP for Ahuntsic Eleni Bakopanos.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent a message to the guests. “Tonight, we gather to celebrate Canada’s seniors, and to recognize the many contributions that seniors have made, and continue to make to our communities,” he said.

FILIA Association for Senior Citizens celebrates 35th anniversary
From the left, Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette, FILIA founder Joanna Tsoublekas, Laval city councillor Sandra El Helou (representing the mayor) and George Tsoublekas (Joanna’s husband). Photo: Martin C. Barry

Trudeau sends a message

“Events such as today’s are great because they not only help foster new relationships, but encourage more seniors to lead active and healthy lifestyles,” Trudeau added. Montreal mayor Valérie Plante also sent a message.

“As Mayor, I am particularly proud of the contribution of all the communities that shape the identity of our city, such as yours,” she said. “Montreal can be proud of its diversity and vibrancy. Your contribution to the vitality of our metropolis is important.”

Elected officials’ greetings

Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli also sent greetings.

“I am especially proud to participate in the celebrations surrounding the 35th anniversary of the Association du troisième âge FILIA,” she said. “Thanks to diversified and accessible programming, the association is creating more than social occasions: it is offering to seniors an environment that is dynamic and stimulating.”

And Laval mayor Marc Demers sent this message. “For the past 35 years, the Association du troisième âge FILIA has been an example of kindness by offering direct assistance to seniors, including 4,500 meals prepared over the past year,” he said.

FILIA has heart, says Demers

As Demers pointed out, “some problems take a lot more heart to overcome. And that is exactly what the Association du troisième âge FILIA has: heart!” Although FILIA started in Park Extension, the group’s influence has been felt increasingly in Chomedey in recent years.

“I’ve been around for 12 years and Joanna and FILIA have been around for at least 10 of the past 12 years,” Guy Ouellette said in an interview. “They are working hard to provide services to older people in Chomedey, so obviously we feel very much like supporting FILIA.”

FILIA Association for Senior Citizens celebrates 35th anniversary
In keeping with FILIA’s origins in Montreal’s Greek community, the afternoon’s entertainment was Hellenic.

Just like family, says Deros

Councillor Deros said in an interview, “I am extremely proud of the services that Joanna Tsoublekas has been offering seniors. Everyone is welcome. FILIA offers a lot of individual as well as group support.

“With a lot of the people who go to FILIA their children are grown and they feel alone and neglected,” Deros continued. “With FILIA you feel like you have a family to be with and do things together. For that we are all very grateful and we hope that Joanna and FILIA will continue for many more years.”

A valuable resource

Laurier-Dorion MNA Fontecilla said, “It’s very, very important to have an association like FILIA for the elderly in the community, for their rights and for the services they need. It is very important for all of us to have such an important resource in our community.”

Saint-Laurent MP Lambropoulos said, “Thanks to Joanna Tsoublekas, FILIA continues to be strong every year. And so we need more people like her in the community who are willing to give their all for the benefit of others. And the seniors in the Greek community definitely benefit from having FILIA. It helps break social isolation, helps get them active and helps with all the problems seniors today face.”