For this edition of our Charitable Choices series, we spoke with Diahara Traoré, Executive Director of Centre Greene, to find out more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Centre Greene is an independent, non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life of the community, provide educational, wellness, and cultural programs, and empower individuals to create a vibrant and resilient community. We have been operating since 1989.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Centre Greene’s program objectives are: to reduce social isolation, to promote and foster healthy and active living among people of all ages, to reduce stigma and discrimination through popular education, to create safer and creative spaces for all to express themselves. Issues we work on: youth mental health awareness and training, youth leadership, children development, parenting skills development, early childhood development, social isolation among seniors, food security among seniors, active aging, community engagement against social issues (racism, discrimination, mental health stigma).
When did you start/join it?
I became Executive Director back in July 2021. I formerly was associate executive director at the Canadian Council for Refugees.
What made you want to get involved?
The sense of community, the warmth of the volunteers, staff and leaders, and the opportunity to create and foster direct impact and social change among people of all backgrounds and ages.
What was the situation like when you started?
We were trying to emerge back from the COVID lockdown, as the Centre had been closed for over a year and was just starting to reopen in-person programming. Summer camp was back in-person for the first time. When I joined, public restrictions were ever-changing and the staff was working hard to reinstate existing programs while ensuring participants were safe.
How has it changed since?
Since my arrival, we have launched new programs and expanded the outreach. We have launched a youth-led mental community-based initiative with the support of the Telus Friendly Future Foundation. We are launching now an arts-based community project to raise awareness about racism and discrimination through creative arts workshops at the Centre and forum-theatre activities. We just began English language and French language conversation circles to help people build language conversational skills. We are also now welcoming asylum seeker families twice a month for an arts-therapy research action project led by a team of McGill researchers and community organizations. Since I have started, we have also offered a series of workshops for parents on learning and speech development issues in partnership with the Montreal Fluency Centre.
What more needs to be done?
With community needs growing, our limited staff is unable to respond to all the needs, nor to offer all the services required. We would benefit from more staff, qualified volunteers (communication, psychosocial support, administrative support), and also office supplies, art supplies, and games for toddlers and children.
How can our readers help?
If you are a qualified and trained professional in communication, administrative support, or educational activities, please reach out to us. In addition, any donations of office equipment, or arts supplies, or plants would be welcome. Monetary donations would also allow us to address some of the needs we have in our day-to-day operations.
Do you have any events coming up?
We will have a workshop series for youth ages 16-25 on mental health, wellness, stigma reduction and mindfulness. In addition, we will be starting a senior women group for discussions, book clubs and wellness. Stay tuned through our Facebook page and website for specific dates.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
The Welcome Collective.