Since the return of a resident pastor, the Reverend Patrick Wheeler, in 1999, Café Christ Church has been open for the people of downtown Sorel. Patrick sought the help of community workers to identify ways in which Christ Church could respond to the needs of the local community. The Café had its beginning in collaboration with Louise Blain, the street worker for La Maison des Jeunes. The café has become “a place for sharing, for conversation, where everyone is free to be him or herself without feeling judged.”The intention of the Café is:
The Café will soon be housed on the ground floor of the restored Rectory facing the Carré-Royal park. For the time being the Café, its users and its volunteers are camping out on Thursday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at le Centre d’action bénévole de Sorel-Tracy.
Our main mission is to welcome people, offering them a place where they can overcome their isolation, entertain themselves, spend time talking and drinking a cup of coffee and making new friends, and to foster an atmosphere of trust.
We take a community-building approach that depends upon the faithful involvement of the volunteers who are committed to the Café. The Café is intended to be a secure and safe milieu marked by sharing, human kindness, listening and being there for others. This is achieved through referrals, accompaniment to appropriate resources depending on the need expressed, the goal being increased autonomy and taking responsibility for oneself. Learning here how to be in community helps people to improve the personal and social skills they need in the wider community.
Our clientele is made up of adolescents, young adults, single-parent families and older adults. Whether they have given up on the system, are working, or are retired, all are welcome.
We believe in solidarity and the importance of working in collaboration with many partners and community organizations in the region of Sorel-Tracy.
First of all we are grateful for the support of la Maison des Jeunes de Sorel (Streetwork) and of Christ Church, Sorel, which, together, coordinate the Café.
Other forms of participation include la Table de Concertation jeunesse du Bas-Richelieu, la Table de Concertation sur la sécurité alimentaire du Bas-Richelieu. We have the support of businesses in the region, of the two local newspapers, Les 2 Rives and La Voix, nor can we forget the food and other products and services graciously provided by the Recyclo-Centre, le Centre d’action bénévole (le CAB) and the many anonymous donors who contribute to our success.
In 2007 there was a total attendance of 1224 for a monthly average of 102.
As a result of our attentive listening to our users’ needs we come to know the issues of personal and family relations they face, their need for housing and shelter (particularly for men), the violence to which they are often exposed, their poverty, their need for the basics such as food and clothing, their drug and alcohol addictions, their occasional illiteracy and their problems of mental health. We have referred people to the CSSS (CLSC), l’Ardoise, le Centre d’action bénévole, the food bank of Bas-Richelieu, the hospital emergency, la Maison La Source, la Porte du Passant and Virage, among others. In 2007 two community organizations came to make presentations about their services, the Association des diabétiques de Sorel-Tracy and the Collective Kitchens LIMO.
To ensure that Café Christ Church remains a safe and secure place we periodically review the rules and guidelines with the users.
In October 2007 a Souper bénéfice was held to raise money for the restoration of the Anglican rectory, future home of the Café. Three hundred tickets were sold, $7 000 were raised and the event was a solid.
While awaiting completion of the restoration of the Rectory, Café Christ Church is open year-round on Thursday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (as well as certain evenings during the summer) at 70, rue Elizabeth in the basement of the CAB. There is a Bean Lunch (“Dîner aux beans de la Pasteure”) every third Sunday, after the 11:00 eucharist held in a room provided by the Salon Funéraire Yves Houle et Frères, 180, rue du Prince (opposite le Centre communautaire Notre-Dame).