#MontrealMondays - The Yellow Door

Submitted by Tamarack on May 15, 2017 - 7:15am

#MontrealMondays – A blog series about the inspiring Neighbourhood and Community work being done in Montréal.

With Deepening Communities’ Neighborhoods – The Heart of Community Mobilizing (HCMI) for Impact being right around the corner, we are featuring a four-week blog series about the incredible organizations that reside in Montréal. There will be one #MontréalMondays blog post every Monday leading up to the HCMI event on June 6th

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The Yellow Door

Welcome back to the second installment of the #MontréalMondays blog series!

The organization we are featuring this week is The Yellow Door (La Porte Jaune in French), which is a non-profit organization with a vision to get younger people more engaged in their community to encourage social inclusion and prevent urban isolation for all generations. This segment of #MontrealMondays is especially exciting; we connected with Matthew Bouchard, the Executive Director of The Yellow Door to conduct a quick and informative interview.

Matthew Bouchard graduated McGill with a Bachelor in Art History and Architecture then went back to pursue a Masters in Librarian and Information Studies. Matthew became the Executive Director at The Yellow Door three years ago due to the work and effort he put into the student government while doing his Master’s degree.  In his spare time, Matthew enjoys playing soccer.

Has the Yellow Door's mission/vision stayed the same over time or has it evolved?

We have been around for over 110 years, it’s safe to assume the mission statement changes. We Started off as a religious organization to promote Christian values, then became a very “hippy” organization in the 70’s. Despite the dynamic nature of The Yellow Door, we still have the same narrative of being an organization ran by young adults.

Just out of curiosity, why is The Yellow Door run by only younger adults?

We believe that young adults are assumed to have the most energy, motivation and time. However, they are more often the least engaged in community work.There are a lot of adults who are are 30 and over who want to give back. However students, especially international students, lack this ambition. McGill also happens to be next door and has a large work force with the time and energy to contribute.

What are some of the events/programs that The Yellow Door runs?

The Yellow Door is split into four programs:

Generations – We call it our flagship project because it’s our oldest and most successful program; it has been running for over 35 years. It is an outreach program that matches young volunteers to isolated seniors in the downtown area of Montréal. They meet on a regular basis to do various activities like get groceries or go for coffee. Generations has approximately 400 clients and 400 volunteers.

Coffee House –  Just celebrated its 50th anniversary. It is an alcohol-free alternative to the bar scene with all ages welcome. Every Wednesday is an open concept comedy night where anybody is welcome to participate. Fridays are “Hootenanny” open stage, where there is a 30-minute featured performance with some spoken word. The Coffee House has a YouTube channel that records their feature performances.

Café – Is small, but is our most popular program. It serves vegan meals on Fridays and is run only by McGill students. We believe a good way to build community and to bring people together is through food.

The Hive - Is our daily programming in our multipurpose room, where we hold different workshops including: spirituality, meditation and yoga.  The Art Hive allows people to drop in and use our art materials. Building things, making art and being creative are some of the best way to break down barriers between people. 

What happens in a typical day at The Yellow Door?

We have regular programming that gives consistency to the day, community groups will use the stage or do workshops in our building. We wear a lot of different hats at The Yellow Door. Our staff will work on low level projects like paying bills or work on higher level projects like strategic discussions of where the organization is going in five years. Our staff throughout the day also focuses on outreach with clients. We have four paid full time people and about 10 unpaid coordinators that run each workshop and program.

Has the Yellow Door Encountered any barriers and if so, how did they overcome them?

We come across barriers for resources and money. The processes that go into applying for funding, getting it and then actually implementing it takes a lot of time and effort. The main barrier is making sure we have the resources to complete our mission. To overcome these barriers, we try to get help from our active board and get the entire staff involved. We also have philosophical barriers. It can be difficult to convince people that our mission is important. There happens to be a lot of people that do not believe that urban isolation is a thing, let alone that resources should be invested to address it.  

What else would you like to share about The Yellow Door / What else do you think our viewers should know about The Yellow Door?

The Yellow Door is not the sum of its four projects or its little offshoot projects. We try to be a community of people which are reactive and proactive to what they are and seeing in their community. We’re a group of people who have decided these issues are purposeful. We’ve been a very dynamic organization. We held drop-in clinics in the 70’s for drug addiction and clinics for people with AIDS. These drop-in clinics allowed people to drop in anonymously and for free.  We’re reactive to the community and are very flexible, this is what makes us unique. This is a good thing and at the same time a challenge. It is hard when you don’t have a very specific mission or vision to garner the resources that are necessary to make change.

 Want to learn more about The Yellow Door? Make sure to visit their Facebook page and check out their website.

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Neighbourhoods ♥ The Heart of Community: Mobilizing for Impact (June 6-8, 2017) is a unique and bilingual national learning event that brings together the most innovative and inspiring examples of neighbourhood action at its best. Learn more

Joignez-vous aux bâtisseurs de communauté, aux leaders citoyens, aux chercheurs, aux leaders municipaux, et autres gens passionnés et venez raviver et rajeunir votre espoir dans le pouvoir citoyen et l’engagement de toute une communauté. Inscrivez-vous à l’événement annuel. Les Quartiers ♥ Le Cœur de la Communauté: Se Mobiliser pourl’Impact qui se tient à Montréal du 6 au 8 juin 2017. http://events.tamarackcommunity.ca/fr/quartiers

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Further Reading: