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Concordia community comes together for Chez Doris collection drive

Volunteers gather and deliver much-needed personal hygiene items for the Montreal women’s shelter

Two women standing in a office with piles of donated goods on the desk and chairs Niem Huynh and Marian Pinsky initiated a collection drive at Concordia that gathered more than 200 personal hygiene products for a women’s shelter.

For those fleeing situations of instability — such as domestic violence — basic items like toothbrushes and shampoo can become luxuries.

So in response to an urgent appeal by Montreal women’s shelter Chez Doris for personal hygiene products, Marian Pinsky of Concordia’s Student Success Centre and Niem Huynh, internship coordinator from the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, alerted the university community and coordinated a highly successful collection drive.

Concordians donated over 200 items such as individual soaps, hand creams, shampoos, sanitary pads, toothbrushes and deodorants for the cause. Despite a major thunderstorm, volunteers dropped the goods off at Chez Doris on July 4.

Pinsky and Huynh arranged pick-ups and collections from the different departments, while Huynh offered her office for storage and organization. The transportation team included Marco Burelli and Angela Kross from Geography, Planning and Environment, Randy Pinsky from the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies and Lisa Lin from Human Resources.

Additional support came from HR’s Anna Michetti and Cherry Marshall and Nancy Wada of University Advancement, who mobilized their respective departments, as well as many other departments and individuals who responded to the call-out with empathy and action.

Chez Doris supports more than 1,000 women every year who are escaping situations of domestic violence or are struggling with homelessness, poverty or mental-health challenges. The organization was named in memory of a woman who was living on the streets of Montreal, who simply wished for “A place to go without prying eyes and too many questions.”

Beyond addressing basic needs such as clothing, respite and meals, the day centre provides critical mental-health services as well as socio-recreational activities. A new emergency night shelter provides beds for 24 women.

Pinsky, a recipient of Concordia’s 2023 Volunteer Recognition Award, says she was motivated to start the collection drive due to the importance of supporting vulnerable communities throughout the entire year.

Chez Doris’s executive director Marina Boulos-Winton expressed her appreciation for the university community’s contribution. “On behalf of everyone at Chez Doris, we’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Concordia University for their exceptional response to our urgent plea for personal hygiene products for our clientele,” she said.

“These essential products will greatly benefit our shower service for homeless women at both our day and night shelter, as well as our hygiene distribution service for vulnerable women living below the poverty line. We are sincerely grateful to Concordia University for making such a positive impact in our community.”

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