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Quebec community leader raises funds and awareness for infectious diseases
COVID-19 has dramatically affected how people in the province of Quebec are giving. According to a recent publication, although much of the event-based fundraising has been cancelled, funds raised by corporate donations, private foundations and individuals were massively redirected to organizations working on the frontlines. Meanwhile, forward-thinking and loyal donors have ramped up initiatives using their influence to inspire other community members.
“I experienced excellence in patient-centered care that one can only encounter at the Jewish General Hospital. The treatment quality is unparalleled,” said Quebec media owner and Chairman of the Board of RNC MEDIA Inc., Pierre R. Brosseau. Connected to the hospital through the late André Bureau, former CRTC chair and Astral Media president, Pierre was called upon to help support the hospital over a decade ago.
In 2014, Pierre created Le Festin de Babette, a JGH Foundation community partner event. His goal: to assemble key Quebec families and changemakers together in one room, to wine and dine, while raising funds for Alzheimer’s Disease research in Dr. Andréa C. LeBlanc’s laboratory at the Lady Davis Institute. “My father passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and I am sensitive to the cause because I am a good candidate for this illness.”
Donating nearly $3 million in personal and Brosseau Family Foundation gifts, Pierre was delighted by the success of the event and decided to change the focus of his philanthropic efforts for the next 5 editions of Le Festin de Babette in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit. “After meeting with Dr. Karl Weiss, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the JGH, I was sold and decided the benefitting department would be his until 2023. It was harder then to get people interested in supporting the Centre for Infectious Diseases initially, but we still managed to raise $400,000.”
In the spring of 2020, with the coronavirus impacting each and every one of us, donations to combat this deadly virus, among other infectious diseases, suddenly became very necessary and relevant. “People began to recognize the importance of investing in research to fight infectious diseases. The Honorable Denis Coderre, who also happens to be the JGH Foundation’s Ambassador, decided to join me in raising funds and awareness for the newly formed The Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases at the JGH, headed up by Dr. Weiss. Together with the Foundation, we are working on a campaign to raise $7.5 million through our combined connections. Following the initial solicitation of major donors, the general public will be solicited through television and radio networks across Quebec at the end of February 2021.”
The Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases will be home to 7 new microbiologists, who will devote themselves to the discovery of novel means to prevent antibiotic resistance, as well as research into other viral and infectious diseases. We must be ready for what comes next. We have seen first-hand the impact of COVID-19 on our society, our health, our way of life. It is only through cutting-edge research – the kind that happens at the JGH – that we will be able to meet the next microbial foe head-on.
“I have been privileged in my life to be able to give back, and I hope to impart that same desire onto my children. If we have it in our wallets and our hearts, we should do what we can to leave this world a better place. It is just the way I see things at this point in my life.”
K.I.D.S. Supporting Kids
Daycare vernissage raises funds for Mental Health at the JGH
Over the last decade, many have recognized the importance of good mental health in adults, but some are still learning about its significance in the lives of children. At least 70 percent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood and adolescence.
“We have seen children here at the daycare who are dealing with grief related to the loss of a loved one or a parent who was sick. It’s especially challenging for some of them this year in dealing with COVID-19. It is definitely affecting them,” said Susan Lottner, the Coordinator at K.I.D.S. Daycare – Technoparc Montreal. “Children from the daycare do benefit greatly from behavioural management programs. We had one child in particular who benefited greatly from the JGH’s program.”
For the last two years, the children at K.I.D.S. Daycare – Technoparc Montreal and their families have been fundraising to support The Centre for Child Development and Mental Health at the Jewish General Hospital. Raising over $1,600 this year, the children between the ages of one and five-years-old held an outdoor art vernissage for their parents.
“We have a program here called the Art Appreciation Program at the daycare. Basically, the children learn about a different artist every month, and then they use different techniques and art media to create art – whether it’s finger painting, collage, brush painting, etc. It all culminates into this vernissage and we thought why not support the JGH which is supporting the children from the daycare? It’s children supporting children,” Susan shared enthusiastically.
Providing programs and services to children between the ages of 3 and 12 years of age since 1966, The Child Psychiatry Department of the Jewish General Hospital consists of several interdisciplinary teams. These include the Early Childhood Disorders program, the Day Treatment program and the Out-Patient/Evening Hospital program.
The donation from K.I.D.S. was received through the Mindstrong Fitness Event which supported the complete rebuilding of the new Carole and Andrew Harper Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the JGH. The inpatient unit has grown from 16,000 sq ft to over 27,000 sq ft., including a designated geriatric section and large occupational therapy room.
Last updated January 2021
Volunteering To Make A Difference
Volunteers play an important role at the JGH Foundation. They make a difference by purchasing much needed equipment, improving the physical premises of the hospital, and supporting programs and events with their energy, enthusiasm and good will.
Diane is one of those extraordinary people. Raising funds and supporting departments at the JGH for over a decade, she started her own charity called Vision of Hope in 2008 after her husband passed away from cancer.
“My husband was very healthy. He was a runner. He was in good shape. It was very quick. We were in shock,” Diane described. “But, I was so thankful for the medical staff at the JGH on the oncology ward who tried to do everything they could to save his life.”
By his bedside, in Pavillion D on the 7th floor, Diane slept on a stretcher on and off for over a year. She decided she wanted to make the experience more comfortable for future family members of JGH patients.
“With the help of amazing friends and family, we did a winemaker's dinner and we raised over $700,000. This enabled the cancer ward at the JGH to buy new furniture,” said Diane.
Most recently, Diane partnered with Gildan and Mitchel Kendall in order to distribute 1,500 sweaters to oncology patients receiving chemotherapy. She also delivered 750 care packages to the geriatric unit thanks to Avon Canada, BethCare Senior Services, Colgate/Palmolive and Maximage.
“Karine Lepage who was formerly head nurse of the oncology department, which I donated to over the years, had switched to geriatrics and reached out to me for help. So, I jumped right in to do my part and the response I got from the community was overwhelming. I mean, people were just so kind and generous,” Diane added.
Making a difference in the lives of hundreds if not thousands of JGH patients and staff, The Foundation is proud and humbled by Diane’s efforts.
“Diane embraces everything we look for in a volunteer and supporter of the Hospital & its Foundation,” said Stephanie Roza, Manager of Volunteer Engagement at The JGH Foundation. “We are truly grateful to her for her time, her generosity and for leveraging her network and resources so that she could help bring comfort and joy to patients and staff.”
November 2020, last updated January 2021
Stay Safe Little One
Children’s book promotes positivity and caution while paying it forward
When the pandemic first hit in March of this year, Claudia Amato and her family consumed a lot of news related to the novel coronavirus. And they weren't alone. Reports suggest that media consumption has broken historical records in North America. "The fact that we were watching everything in the beginning, the kids were getting bombarded by very scary statistics in the news. They were asking me constantly, 'Mom – what are the numbers today?' And I would tell them, and they'd say 'Oh – that's bad, that's bad!'" Claudia said.
To quell their fears, Claudia decided to write a story about a big virus and the many little warriors who must face it. "The first idea behind the book was to teach the children about being safe and washing their hands and so on," she added. "The second was to give them hope."
Then one night, her husband noticed what she had been writing and told Claudia he believed other children would benefit from it. "The story helped counteract all the messages we were seeing because it was very much focused on the present and not looking too far ahead into the future – that things will be better again."
Fast forward just a couple of months, and almost 700 copies of the book Stay Safe Little One have been sold. Alongside friend and illustrator Jennifer Nozzolillo, Claudia decided to donate all of the profits to the JGH Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund. Close to $1,800 has been donated so far, and Claudia couldn't be prouder.
“The community was just so supportive. Without it, none of this would have been possible,” she shared enthusiastically. “We hope this action will encourage others to donate and to actively be a part of fighting the virus in the real world at the JGH.”
The JGH was the first hospital in Montreal to treat adult patients with the coronavirus. Their efforts fueled necessary research, like Dr. Brent Richardson’s biobank, which made predicting optimal treatment for COVID-positive patients possible and telehealth programs like ESOGER1, an online tool that evaluates the socio-geriatric situation of a specific elderly individual.
“I think we have to be a little more patient than we want to be, but be that as it may, we are here now, and hopefully, an end is in sight.”
December 2020, last updated January 2021