Chez Doris Day Shelter – Chez Doris women’s day shelter is to receive an exceptional donation of $1 million from Mr. Andrew Harper, a retired Montreal businessman. Mr. Harper, now 95, owned and operated with his late wife, Carole, a company specializing in importing and distributing cookies and chocolates. In honour of this gift, Chez Doris’ building situated at 1430 Chomedey in Montreal, now bears the name of Carole and Andrew Harper. Mr. Harper was honoured at Chez Doris’ annual Tea Time event at the Reception Hall of Concordia University’s Grey Nun’s Pavilion, located at 1190 Guy Street. More than 200 participants took part in the event, as well as the Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley and the Minister responsible for Access to Information and the Reform of Democratic Institutions, and responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, Kathleen Weil.
“After having almost closed our doors in 2014, not to mention the major work that had to be done on our building in 2017, this exceptional and unexpected donation will allow Chez Doris to realize its mission on a larger scale. In addition to continuing to meet the needs of our existing clientele, we are evaluating the possibility of increasing our service offerings for women in the downtown core. Given the sheer number of women Chez Doris has helped over 41 years as well as its vision for the future, Mr. Harper was convinced that his philanthropic gift would have the greatest impact in view of its clientele’s escalating poverty and the growing number of women in Greater Montreal, who are, if not homeless, vulnerable to becoming so. During initial discussions with Mr. Harper and his accountant, his contribution went from $10,000 to $1 million!”, says Marina Boulos-Winton, Executive Director of Chez Doris.
The Harpers’ gift will have a direct impact on the lives of more than 1,600 women
“With the passing of my beloved wife and our former, professional success, I felt my growing responsibility to give back to the community. Carole and I made a good living, and I wanted to contribute to an organization which helps the most disadvantaged and which is not far from my own neighbourhood. I invite men and women who want to make a difference to invest in the organization as it plays a big role in improving our society “said Andrew Harper.
The 2015 homelessness count concluded that many homeless people use day centres to meet their basic needs. Chez Doris is the only women’s day centre open 7 days a week, without any limitations on the number of visits from beneficiaries.
Rising Needs for the Less Visible Side of Homelessness
The needs of women in difficulty continue to grow in downtown Montreal. In 2017-2018, 551 women visited Chez Doris for the first time, a 58.79% increase from last year. Chez Doris’s clientele is made up of 31% Francophones, 21% Anglophones, 19% Aboriginal women and 29% from other cultural communities.
“Recent increases in the number of clients are due to asylum seekers who are turning to Chez Doris for help in search of basic necessities such as clothing, hygiene products, and items to start a new life in Montreal. As well, we continue to see an aging segment of women who live precariously, and a migration of Inuit women from the north due to housing shortages and their over-judicialization. Among Aboriginal women we will see an increase in homelessness in the summer, as that is the time they travel to large urban centres like Montreal,” says Boulos-Winton.
Offering a Place to Rest, to Eat, and Other Essentials 7 days a Week, Thanks to All Montrealers
Even though the annual operating budget is $ 1.68 million, it’s not enough given the demand. “Chez Doris is calling on all Montrealers to meet the needs of the centre. Volunteers provide approximately 6,000 hours on a yearly basis to make Chez Doris a welcoming place. Without their help, many programs and services offered would not be available. We accept all forms of donations for our operations, be it food, hygiene and pharmaceutical products, women’s clothing, bus tickets, gift cards, household items, and of course, financial contributions.” explains Talar Dikijian, President of the Board of Directors.
Donations are gladly accepted online for Chez Doris’ day shelter at the following link: https://bit.ly/2HZyRbR.
About Chez Doris
Chez Doris offers services and programs to provide for women’s most basic and immediate needs related to coping with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and/or addictions. It is the only women’s day shelter in Montréal open 7 days a week, from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM. Services include: breakfast and lunch; access to showers, hygienic products, and a clothing depot; emergency food bags; 6 respite beds; telephone information and referral assistance; custodial services and a financial management program; an Inuit assistance program; an Aboriginal housing program; health and mental health services; legal & tax filing services; as well as educational and socio-recreational integration programs. Chez Doris receives up to 100 women per day, which represents approximately 26,000 visits per year, and provides more than 37,000 meals annually. www.chezdoris.org
Biography of Carole and Andrew Harper
Andrew Harper was born in Bucharest, Romania ninety-five years ago. When the Nazis entered and occupied Romania in 1940, Andrew’s parents were able to obtain exit visas for Andrew and his younger brother and eventually they all made their way to Havana, Cuba.
Before the end of the World War II, Andrew obtained his US visa, and went to the US, where he was immediately drafted. Possibly, because of his knowledge of foreign languages, he was assigned to the Airforce counter intelligence corps, which later became the CIA. Andrew was immediately granted US citizenship. Upon discharge, under the G.I. Bill of Rights, Andrew went to study at Columbia University and he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Then, he returned to Havana to obtain a Master of Arts degree in Spanish and Latin American Affairs.
With these credentials, he was hired by the Dupont Company, in Wilmington, Delaware as an advertising manager for many products which were exported to foreign markets. Through a friend in New York, he met his future wife, Carole Hymes. She was born in New York City, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business administration from the City University of New York and worked for a small investment firm on Wall Street. Andrew traveled often from Wilmington to New York to see Carole, and they married in 1954. He subsequently opened his own business and established an office in the Empire State Building in New York City. On a trip to Europe, he discovered that some European manufacturers wanted to export preferably to Canada, and not the US and so they established themselves in Montreal. This is the origin of A. Harper Associates Inc. – a leading importer and distributor of fine foods, chocolates and biscuits in Canada. AHA Inc. also designed original ‘Souvenir Canada’ metal containers which came with English toffees or French candies. Carole and Andrew spent the next decades working successfully side by side and retired some thirty years ago.
Carole sadly passed away on October 31, 2015. In keeping with Carole’s generous ways, Andrew is doing more to help the larger community and provide support when possible to reflect the good works that she espoused during her lifetime. As well, this reflects his father’s way of living and giving. Andrew’s father, Simon, was a religious and charitable man. He always led by example and reminded his sons to: “Always help someone in need; you will see, if you do so, God will help you in whatever you are doing.”