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Chez Doris to reopen weekend shelter in downtown Montreal

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Chez Doris will finally be able to reopen its weekend day shelter this Saturday after it was closed down 10 months ago.

It's welcome news as the needs continue to grow.

In the past few weeks, the shelter has seen an increase in the number of women it supports, with two to three new clients everyday.

"Maybe for people two to three it's nothing, but it's already 150 that we help everyday. so it's a lot," said Chez Doris Executive Director Diane Pilote.

The weekend program has been on pause since last September due to staff shortage.

"They really need us more than ever and we feel it. And that's why we opened on the weekends because on the weekend there is less services for women only," Pilote said.

Recruiting and training new support staff has been a priority. Clementine Mwabange is one of them and she's concerned especially as Moving Day approaches.

"There's a lot of needs in Montreal. Even if they have welfare, they don't have welfare, they don't have more to keep for food, just to live," Mwabange said.

Monique Boulay first came to Chez Doris 40 years ago when she was a single mother.

"I had an apartment but I was really poor. So they helped put me up when I was real low," Boulay said.

She still comes to the centre on occasion for a meal and to socialize — an important aspect of the centre, says Pilote.

"You will be in contact with other women, other vulnerable women, but the staff will also be women and they will take care of you," she said.

Julia Blanco, a retired Concordia University professor, became a regular at Chez Doris three months ago.

"It's very welcoming. Anything you need you ask and you have it," she said.

The 66-year-old says she never expected to experience homelessness herself.

"I always say to people, nobody wants to live on the street and life can change very quickly so, please, when we look at people, we should look at them in a different way," Blanco said.

Staff at the centre are helping her look for a home. 

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