Project Genesis is a community organization committed to the values of social justice, equality and non-discrimination, and empowerment. With our members, we work towards social change with the goal of improving the quality of life of the disadvantaged. More specifically, our goals are:
- To improve the accessibility of social, government and community services to the disadvantaged (the poor, senior citizens, those with little formal education, new immigrants, etc.),
- To provide community organizing services on issues of local concern,
- To promote citizen participation in Project Genesis and other agencies and organizations which provide services to the community.
Project Genesis is a grassroots, non-profit community organization located in Côte-des-Neiges, a culturally diverse neighbourhood of Montreal where many people live below the poverty line.
We support neighbourhood residents in facing and resolving some of their difficult challenges, including housing problems, basic income security, and access to healthcare and other government programs. We see the links between individual problems and broader social inequities, so we provide services that help people resolve individual difficulties while also working on their root causes.
Our Individual Services include our Storefront drop-in centre and our Home Advocacy Services. We provide one-on-one help – including providing legal information, advocacy, and referrals – for a range of problems.
Through our Community Organizing, we work collectively to counteract the causes of some of the problems faced by neighbourhood residents, including working to improve housing conditions through our Housing Rights organizing, and fighting poverty through our Anti-Poverty work.
Project Genesis is a community organization run by staff, volunteers and local residents.
Adopted by Project Genesis’ Board of Directors in June 2020 to contribute to positive change:
“That Project Genesis denounces systemic racism in Montreal toward people of Black and Asian communities and beyond, and that through our neighbourhood-based areas of intervention (housing, welfare, pensions, etc.) and organizational life, Project Genesis seeks to be a part of ending such systemic racism.”
Project Genesis is a non-profit organization founded in 1977 as an outcome of a research project that highlighted problems faced by Jewish seniors living in poverty in Montreal.
Located in a storefront on Victoria Avenue in Côte-des-Neiges, the organization’s goal was to improve the situation of the people living in poverty by helping local residents better understand and defend their rights, and by providing a space where people could work together on issues of local importance.
At the modest drop-in centre, which became known simply as “the Storefront”, people could obtain free legal information, advocacy, and referrals for a range of problems, such as dealing with poor housing conditions and difficulties with government social programs. Over the years, Project Genesis worked with members of the community on initiatives responding to local needs, including day care services, access to healthcare, crime prevention programs, food baskets, a barter system, and a minimal-cost cafeteria.
In addition, through its Outreach program, Project Genesis visited apartment buildings to inform neighbourhood residents on their rights and hear their concerns.
In 2001, in response to the growing needs of the organization, Project Genesis moved to its current location, a few blocks away from the old one. Côte-des-Neiges today is a multi-ethnic neighbourhood, with a significant percentage of households still living in poverty and facing a variety of problems.
The Storefront is busier than ever, with staff and trained volunteers providing thousands of interventions per year. Our community organizing work brings together our members, volunteers, neighbourhood residents and other organizations in response to the problems we see people facing in our Storefront. Through our Housing Rights work, we promote access to quality, affordable housing. Our Anti-Poverty organizing works on concrete goals to improve the situation of the poorest in our society.
We sincerely appreciate the support of our main funders
Staff and Board
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Project Genesis members
Abiose Cromanty (co-chairperson)
Shara Rosen (co-chairperson)
Michael Chervin (on leave)
INDIVIDUAL SERVICES STAFF
Margaret van Nooten
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING STAFF
Saray Ortiz Torres
Annual Report 2021-2022
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Thank you to all our donors for contributing to a better future!
Previous Annual Reports
An Inside Look
Take a closer look at the work of Project Genesis through the eyes of volunteers, members, interns, staff, and service users!
Perseverance and helping others
Priscilla, Housing Rights Committee volunteer
“I am learning a lot and I am meeting a lot of different people. Seeing different things and learning makes a lot of difference in my life.”
Fighting poverty by fighting for social housing
Kim, Housing Rights Committee volunteer
“The most important way
of fighting poverty
is by fighting for housing.”
Learning, and being inspired to make a change
Sandra, Outreach volunteer
“When you hear what other people have gone through, you can relate – it can help you, it can inspire you, it can motivate you.”
Help with addressing financial difficulties
Rodolfo, Storefront service user
“I am trying to survive with these struggles in my life and I am very thankful to Genesis for helping.”
How one good turn can lead to many others
Judith, Storefront volunteer advisor
How far does the long arm of an original idea reach?
Who knows where it will stop?
Encouragement and Support
Estrelita, Storefront service user
“Some places try to discourage you when you ask for support, but at Project Genesis, you don’t feel judged; you feel welcomed.”
People living in poverty speaking out
Susan, Anti-Poverty Committee volunteer
“That is how people’s lives are saved – when they find out where in the community they can get help.”
The Storefront: Sorting out welfare woes
Storefront staff reviewing a file
When Ms. B.’s monthly welfare cheque was somewhat mysteriously cut by over $400, she was referred to Project Genesis by a friend.
Offering services for those with limited mobility
Djamel, Home Advocacy Services volunteer
“(Our work) helps service users avoid delays or problems with (various programs) and receiving their benefits.”
Standing in solidarity with those in difficulty
Camille, Storefront advisor and student intern
“Project Genesis is unique in the way it situates individuals…in the context of a community, ready to stand with them and equip them to take action.”
Supporting a social rate for public transit
Anti-Poverty Committee participants
“When you can’t afford a bus ride, you’re stuck!”
Video: “Prochaines sorties barrées” (mostly in French)
Featuring Anti-Poverty Committee volunteers
Ce film documentaire illustre comment différentes «barrières» socio-économiques entrainent et surtout maintiennent dans la pauvreté
Video: “The Rental Board discriminates against tenants”
A video exploring how delays affect the lives of tenants who turn to the Rental Board as a recourse for problems in their apartments.
Menachem, Storefront advisor and student intern
“The complexity of this case…suggests that without our intervention, Ms D may never have received welfare.”
Video: “Evaluation des résultats par et pour le communautaire” (in French)
Featuring Outreach volunteers
The Centre de Formation Populaire (CFP) produced a video on the evaluation of Project Genesis’ Outreach program.
Gaining insight and building solidarity
Russell, Anti-Poverty Committee volunteer
“(This activity) was an eye-opener…and it built solidarity amongst ourselves while fuelling us to engage in further actions.”
Home Advocacy Services: The heat is on!
Volunteer advisor consulting with Storefront staff
Ms. K. is a 91-year-old woman living alone. Although her apartment was very cold, her landlord refused to turn on the heat.
Obtaining benefits for a single mother in a time of crisis
Catherine, Storefront volunteer advisor
“We were able to ensure that welfare would take the place of the job training payments during her period of treatment and convalescence.”
Caring about local residents
Line, Outreach volunteer
“Project Genesis is made up of people who care about Côte-des-Neiges residents and are available to help them exercise their rights.”
Helping people fight for their rights
Tariq, Outreach volunteer
“Why we do this is to help people fight for their rights – so that people can change their lives.”
Negotiating bureaucratic delays
Geneviève, Storefront advisor and student intern
“Staff were instrumental in guiding me…so that I could confidently take the next steps in working towards a resolution for Mr. G.”
Blue Bonnets: Engaging people in our neighbourhood
Kurt, Housing Rights Committee volunteer
“I was so proud that this was something we orchestrated ourselves, and that we succeeded in making local people aware of this important issue and getting them involved.”
Participating in positive change
Albertha, Housing Rights and Anti-Poverty Committees volunteer
“I believe that as we continue to persevere, by actions and letters of concern to the government about poverty and homelessness, there will be positive changes in the near future.”
Working towards a solution
Aissatou, Anti-Poverty Committee volunteer
“Through our committee, we continue to work towards a solution – and I think there is one out there. We need to ensure that people are treated with dignity.”
Increasing confidence for a Home Advocacy Services user
Dua, Individual Services volunteer
“Since he lost his vision some years ago, Mr. T finds it difficult to manage his paperwork, so he asked our Home Advocacy Services for help”
Breaking the silence surrounding poverty
Chris, Project Genesis community organizer
“These important actions…were undertaken to meet an enormous challenge: breaking the silence surrounding poverty in our community”
Opening new avenues of hope
Brigitte, Storefront volunteer advisor
“It felt good to provide information concerning financial assistance and housing options, empowering her to make effective change in her life.”
Edy, Outreach volunteer
“Nothing has been more gratifying than to reach those tenants who kindly open their doors to us and agree to take action to empower themselves”
Frequently Asked Questions
Click on any question to expand the answer. Please feel free to contact us for more information if needed.
Is Project Genesis’ Storefront only for people who live in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood?
No, our Storefront services are available to people from any neighbourhood.
Can anyone use services at Project Genesis? Do I have to be below a certain income level? What if I’m a visitor to Canada, or my status is undocumented?
Within our areas of intervention, our Individual Services are available to everyone. For example, we do not refuse service based on immigration status, age, religion, country of origin, neighbourhood in which you live, income or housing situation. Our services are free of charge and confidential.
Do I need identification papers? What information do I have to provide in order to receive services?
We typically ask for your name and contact information, as well as some identifying questions (such as your country of origin and date of birth) for filing and statistical purposes. These statistics help us analyze our services and allow us to report on our work to funders. However, we never oblige you to provide any identifying personal information, and we will gladly provide services to you even if you choose not to do so.
Do I need a referral to come and see you?
No, you do not need a referral.
What are your opening hours?
You can consult our Storefont page for our current opening hours.
Can I make an appointment?
We are currently offering our services by telephone, and by appointment when needed. Please call us for more information.
What can I do if your opening hours don’t work for me?
You can call us and receive information by phone. We may also be able to direct you to other services that fit your schedule.
I have mobility or vision problems. Is there a way I can receive your services?
Our Home Advocacy Services bring our Storefront services to people’s homes in the case of mobility problems or visual impairment. However, this service is only available if you live within our service boundaries. Please consult the Home Advocacy Services page, or call us for more information.
What kinds of problems can I get help with?
We can provide legal information, advocacy and support on a range of issues, including housing, pensions, welfare and other government programs. You can consult our Storefront page for a more complete and detailed list, or call us if you are not sure. If we do not help with your type of problem, we may be able to refer you to other services or organizations.
Can you help me find an apartment?
No, we do not help specifically with apartment searches. However, we can refer you to resources that could help in your search.
What can I do if many people in my building have the same problem?
Depending on the problem, we can give you information and explain how to follow up. If your building is within our service area, our Outreach team may be able to visit and give information to other tenants. You can also feel free to refer other tenants to our services.
Can I call and speak with a lawyer?
No. Our staff and trained volunteers give information on rights, responsibilities and options based on the law, but we are not a legal aid clinic where you can consult directly with a lawyer. We can refer you to legal services if that is what you need.
Do you have lawyers who can represent me in court?
We do not provide legal services, such as representing people in court. However, we can refer you to legal clinics or to lawyers if necessary.
Do you help with filling out forms?
We help to fill forms related to our areas of intervention. You can consult our Storefront page for more information. In other cases, we may be able to refer you to other places for help.
I am having financial problems. Can you help?
We do not offer money or direct financial assistance. We can help by seeing if you are eligible for benefits and helping you to apply for these benefits. We can also refer you to other resources that can help.
I would like to be involved in the organization. Are there ways that I could volunteer?
Yes! You can consult our Participate page to find out what the various volunteer possibilities are.
How is Project Genesis funded?
Project Genesis is a non-profit organization; people do not pay to access our services. We rely on a combination of public funding, foundation and organizational grants, and private and individual donations to finance our operations. You can consult our Annual Report for a full list of our donors. We are sincerely grateful to them all!
I would like to make a donation. Can I get a receipt for income tax purposes?
We happily accept all donations, regardless of the amount, and will issue a receipt for any donation of $10 or more. Thank you for your generosity!