I’m so sorry that the Southwest United Church in Verdun will close its Mission in Verdun Elementary School on Melrose Street at the end of June when their current lease runs out.
Community group members have known about this for a while and church members for a bit longer than that, but the decision became public after Sophie Poisson wrote an article in French about it for the Verdun Messenger last week.
A day later, SouthWest posted more info to their Facebook page.
The Wednesday community lunch and the Mini-market are relocating to Dawson Boys and Girls Club as of April 24th.
In case it is ambiguous from reading the article, SouthWest Mission will remain in the Verdun Elementary building until the end of our lease on June 30th. In terms of Bonhomme à lunettes and the Halte allaitement (not halte garderie), we are hopeful these services, as well as two weekly AA meetings, will continue in the Mission space after SouthWest leaves, but there have been no guarantees. We have encouraged these groups to communicate directly with the school board which will make all decisions about the use of the space.
It’s going to take Dawson a while to restart the lunches, so the last one will be April 17 and the new ones will start sometime in the summer.
For more than a decade, Verdun residents who speak English have counted on the Mission to get healthy local food, have a gathering place with immigrant and French-speaking neighbours, and get local community projects underway (Un plante de tomate, Good Food Box, Wednesday mini-markets, marché-mobile, Verdun sans Faim, and événement santé to name a few). This despite the fact that very little public funding can be distributed directly to religious groups. The SouthWest Mission worked with partners who served as fiduciaries.
Throughout all this time, everyone involved worked hard to keep the Mission and the Church aligned. Looking back now, it’s clear that the project has been teeter-tottering over the last few years. Cracks appeared in the happy dedicated ambience that marked the location in its early years. Volunteers and employees struggled to work happily together. I wish things had been easier for all of you. Thanks so much for your work.
And thanks especially to Darlene, Léonore, Sheila and the others who have stepped forward to continue their projects at Dawson Boys and Girls Club. Your efforts on behalf of the community are so appreciated. Thank you enormously. And thank you Dawson for offering to help keep the projects going. We so appreciate it.
And lastly, farewell to Reverend David Lefneski. Thanks so much for making Verdun a better place.
Throughout all his years working in Verdun, David worked tirelessly with Amy, Darlene, Léonore, Sheila and countless others to get vulnerable people assistance, attention, community, health care, nutrition and whatever else they needed. Most of those of us who work on community projects have his cell phone number. I can say first hand that he responded to needs almost any time of the day.
I’m sorry to hear that Verdun will lose him as a regular leader in our community. He has been splitting his time with a church in Cowansville for several months now and will move there permanently at some point in the future. I hope his new community appreciates his enthusiasm and good-will just as Verdun has for many years. If any of you are reading this, and you want to get to know your new pastor, please listen to my podcast interview with him. I hope he’s as successful at building community there as he has been in Verdun.
In some ways, it’s not farewell anyway. Knowing David, I trust that he’ll find a way to connect Verdun with Cowansville in some wacky project in the future.
At least I hope so.