It Takes a Community

As we reflect on 2020, it’s safe to say, it has been a year unlike any other.

This year marked the beginning of a new era for Ometz, as a new CEO was named and two major initiatives, L’Annexe and Clinique entourfamille were poised to launch. The pandemic became a fourth factor, that presented numerous unprecedented challenges for us all. Indeed, when lockdowns first began none of us could have anticipated what lay ahead.

But before we knew it, hours turned into days. Those days turned into weeks. Then months. And here we are now, over one year later and counting–doing what we do best: reaching out to the community—being there to respond, to listen and to provide comfort. That help just looks a little different these days and we are so incredibly proud of our devoted staff, volunteers, dedicated Board, donors and loyal partners for stepping up, adapting to this ‘new normal’ and moving ahead.

There is no doubt, the pandemic has been disruptive for us all. It has forced us to pivot in ways we never thought possible. From prioritizing service responses, Zoom meetings, home offices, virtual visits, online workshops and events—these have all been learning curves. This past year has completely altered the way we live, plan, interact, and work.

And many members of the community have been severely affected—and continue to deal with isolation, anxiety, loss and depression. For some, difficult situations have only become harder over time. In 2020, the pandemic exponentially increased issues related to social isolation and economic insecurity, highlighting increased need for support—in particular around mental health. It exacerbated parental fatigue and anxiety and put children at additional risk, particularly those struggling academically and socially. It exposed the financial and skills-related gap between our most vulnerable clients and the technology that connects them to much-needed services and social supports.

But while this has been a challenging time for the community and for Ometz, it is also a time of opportunity. We believe there is every reason to be hopeful.

In this period of social distancing, quarantining, and Zoom, we are dedicated to maintaining our connection to community and to our clients. We are committed to leading through the COVID-19 crisis and recovery—strengthening our agency, building on our strong foundation by planning for the future and enhancing our position as a vital and relevant Montreal organization. And we could not have done it without our partnerships, which have been critical to our ability to respond to the pandemic and will be key in our work to create a stronger, more integrated and impactful human service agency.

It is said that “a community is too heavy to carry alone.” At Ometz, we are reminded of this every day and are proud of the way we have been there for each other and our community.

We appreciate your ongoing commitment to Ometz and those we serve—it is your support and dedication that makes Ometz such a special place.

Some highlights from the past year:

  • The Social Services Teams of Cummings Centre and Ometz worked together with Federation CJA on the front lines of the newly established Community Helpline delivering emergency response, generating increased demand for social services for our Intake team.
  • Ometz partnered with Federation CJA’s Gesher– the Bridge–an initiative to ensure that impacted families can get the support they need to cope through this crisis.
  • Staff from L’Annexe, our new Ometz Centre for Young Adults, were able to pivot all individual and group services to an online and remote mode and meet the needs of their increasingly vulnerable clientele, responding to a stunning 111% increase in the number of interventions during a short period.
  • We continued our expansion to service adults (30+) with mild intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder (some with dual diagnoses with mental illness), who often have limited access to other mental health resources. Services focused on helping our clients with lower support needs to increase autonomy by working on improving self-esteem, social skills, and independent living skills including cooking and financial literacy.
  • Ometz continued its partnerships with CIUSSS Centre-Ouest de l’ile de Montreal, City of Montreal social housing office, Habitation Communautaire NDG and the Jewish General Hospital Department of Outpatient Psychiatry to offer community mental health support to our clients requiring supported independent living and affordable social housing. The main objective is to increase and improve access to social housing, as well as the necessary mental health support for our clients living autonomously.
  • We proudly launched Clinique entourfamille™, a specialized division that supports children and their families by providing guidance and solutions around developmental, social and academic growth. The clinic offers several virtual and on-site services, including online speech therapy, behavioural support services, family/child therapy, occupational therapy, group social skills and anxiety/emotional regulation workshops. As families of school-aged children face new obstacles since returning to the classroom, access to these professional services is more important than ever.
  • Mindful of pandemic related challenges but dedicated to framing the future and setting the course for Ometz, we developed our three-year strategic plan. The plan is a deliberate, disciplined, thoughtful roadmap with objectives, actions, measurements and accountability. We believe that it will go a long way in continuing our vision of building a vibrant, growing community where people care for themselves and for each other.

Dominique McCaughey
Chief Executive Officer,

Michael Aronovici

Back to the Annual Reports 2020-2021