More space, more donations, for more customers served. This is the aspiration behind the new Center Flavie, which opened its doors on September 1st. After three years of waiting, of challenges, but above all of solidarity, a new chapter is opening for the Center Flavie.
By Morgane LEMÉE
On the morning of August 30, 2022, during the official inauguration of the new Center Flavie, the director Gilbert Vielfaure shares with the 200 people present, with humor, his answered prayers of the day.
But the biggest is certainly the realization of this new building of 13,000 square feet, in which we can finally enter, at 301, rue Archibald, in Saint-Boniface.
The progress of this large-scale project, which cost a total of $4.2 million, was strewn with challenges. But this adventure ends well. Today, Center Flavie is only $200,000 away from being debt free. For Julie Turenne-Maynard, president of the board of directors of the Center Flavie, it is “a small miracle”. (1) And the mission of the Flavie Center will not stop its growth here. By having acquired several properties, its managers make sure to be able to expand the premises as much as necessary, and thus not to move anymore.
| A crying demand
At 1er September, official opening day, the Center Flavie has regained an anthill rhythm. By 11:30 a.m., 300 people had already passed through its doors. Outside, dozens of people were still waiting to return. Gilbert Vielfaure and Julie Turenne-Maynard confirm: “It’s like that every day. Unfortunately, today not everyone will be able to return. »
Inside, customers buy clothes, furniture and household items. As the shelves are emptied, the volunteers are restocking. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the rhythm does not stop for a second.
Samenta Cineus, originally from Haiti and Manitoba for eight years, came today with her daughter, Makicha. She arrived at 8:30 a.m., finally returning around 11 a.m. “If you don’t come early, you won’t find anything. I wanted some furniture, but they’ve all been picked up already. But I found a vacuum cleaner and decorative things. »
For Michele Pérez, originally from the Dominican Republic and in Manitoba for 12 days, the Center Flavie is one of the first stops before moving in. “This is my first time here. By the time I got back, there were already a lot of people past before me. But I found things I wanted. It’s a great initiative, it helps me for the house. »
This crush at the Center Flavie, from its reopening day, is glaring proof that there are always needs. For Julie Turenne-Maynard, with this new building, there is now at least room to accommodate all these people, room to circulate. But there is always a need for more. Gilbert Vielfaure: “We have a hundred volunteers who give 14,000 hours a year. As impressive as that is, we’re looking to increase by 50% or more. Bringing goods to us is important, remembering that it is difficult for us to pay bills with donated goods. Monetary donations are necessary for the daily operation of the Centre. »
The new locations will also make it possible to collaborate with schools and offer young people a group volunteering experience. A long-standing desire that the old place could not fulfill.
| Innovate to better help
Two new projects are emerging with the new Center Flavie: community gardens, on the ground, on the banks of the Seine River, and the creation of the Boutique Unique (2). Julie Turenne-Maynard explains this social enterprise project: “We’ve been putting certain things up for sale for several years, on Kijiji for example. We receive things that are not necessary for our customers, such as fridges, decorative items or antiques. Our online sales were successful, but here we formalize with our own shop. »
The principle: customers first. If that does not go away, the items are put up for sale on the online store, with an auction system, which everyone can take advantage of. They can then be picked up at the Center Flavie.
Gilbert Vielfaure: “A bigger place requires more expenses. Boutique Unique will allow people to buy unusual items, but also to raise funds to keep the Center in good health, balance our budget, pay our bills. This helps us become more financially self-sufficient and less dependent on outside sources. And therefore to focus more on our mission, which is to help those in need. »
(1) See the article by Gautier Calon, in Freedom March 30, 2022, for details of the $4.2 million total project.
(2) Go to shopboutiqueunique.com, when the website is operational, in September.