When the government lock down came into effect last March, a popular Bright Vibes post on LinkedIn grabbed my attention. “Here are two good reasons to enjoy teleworking: you have work and you have a home. Everything else is a bonus.“
It struck me that over 3,000 homeless people in Montréal did not have the luxury of “staying home”. Needless to say that during these times of confinement there are absolutely no bonus to be found for the homeless. The city center is deserted, depleted of its workers and shoppers, without cars stopping at traffic lights, without any form of activity and with much less services than usual. Not to mention sub-zero temperatures. This is a real social catastrophe. A catastrophe that moved us at PROXIBA.
Our Pro Bono cause
Last fall we made a group decision and decided to get involved to do our part in supporting homelessness. Our team unanimously decided to support the Société de développement social (SDS) free of charge for all of its communication needs in 2021.
We chose the SDS because we liked the pragmatic, inclusive and collaborative approach of this organization often recognized as a “social broker”. What this means is that we will be promoting the SDS within the Montréal business community, especially in the real estate sector, major event organizers and community groups dedicated to workforce development, three ecosystems that PROXIBA knows particularly well.
As we are still hit hard by the pandemic and our city’s homeless population keeps on facing enormous challenges, we invite Montréal’s business community to join forces with us and thus take benevolent and constructive action for the vitality of Montréal’s central boroughs.
It must be said that Montréal’s homeless population is oh-so diversified. It is comprised of a host of different realities and profiles. Some stem directly from the current shortage of affordable housing, others are the consequence of mental health or addiction issues, while others are just the result of “life mishaps” that shape an individual’s life for a short or a longer while. This is why SDS’s non-judgmental role is so crucial to our city’s vitality. Homelessness is part of our city. It needs to be handled with compassion and empathy.
The SDS approach is unique in North America and it is twofold.
On the one hand, it is about creating partnerships with large property owners to facilitate harmonious cohabitation between the homeless population and businesses. While under contract, SDS specialists in social work guide homeless people towards appropriate resources and services, if needed, within the framework of agreements signed with major real estate stakeholders.
On the other hand the SDS is developing a host of programs in the field of employment for homeless people with temporary jobs and projects or downright comprehensive interventions towards a more permanent return to work. The SDS also organizes various events during the year.
Giving back to Montréal
Our team‘s decision to support the SDS for free was relatively easy to make. In 2020, we were part of the privileged. Our clients needed us more than ever. Emergency internal communication, adaptation of key messaging for their own customers and suppliers … in just a few months, our clients made genuine 180-degree turns and we had to explain everything clearly to their publics. We were really busy, even when working from home. We had that luxury.
If you too feel privileged, as a business executive, as a communication student or as a freelance public relations professional, I invite you to get in touch and find out how to collaborate with the SDS (and with us). Now is the time, more than ever, to bridge the gap between the business world and community development and thus make a benevolent commitment towards the health and vitality of our central districts.