Making A Difference In The Community

“My name is Stu Guttman. I’m a community professional. I’ve been working in the industry for over 20 years, started off working with kids, day camps, youth groups, creative programs. And as I graduated from one professional field to another, one role to another, I started fundraising, actively fundraising, and really making a difference in the lives of our children, community at large, and making a real difference.”

My Father Inspired My Passion For Community

“My father set the tone for community work. When I was a young age, I remember him volunteering organizing different events, sports breakfasts, golf tournaments, all different ways for people to get together and have fun over a common goal. And I just got the itch, and I started doing things. And one thing led to another, and now I’m just doing it because I love it.”

My Academic Background

“I started off with a degree in psychology at Concordia. And I liked it from a psychological perspective, from a giving back, but I got a call, I remember, halfway through my first degree and I was recruited to be in a program where they gave me a masters in non-profit management. It was a cohort-based program. They flew me from Montreal with five other Montreal professionals to Chicago and to Toronto and to Ottawa. And they gave us the tools that we needed, and they invested in I’ll quote, “the youth of the future”, because they recognize that in the non-profit world burnout rates are huge, turnover rates are huge.

They wanted to really give us that credibility that we needed to succeed. So I got my degree in Chicago while working here through distance education. And I came back and I said, a degree in non-profit management is great, but I need something else that will take me to the next level. So that’s when I became the youngest person in the current cohorts of the executive MBA program at John Molson. So I was the only one on the computer, laptop typing out my notes, everyone else was old school. But I met incredible people from around Montreal who are still my friends and colleagues.”

Advising On Best Donor Practices

“What happened with my undergrad was I recognized that here in Montreal having an American degree doesn’t really carry the same type of clout that you would probably wanted to have, but the MBA is a universally accepted degree. People know what it is that you’re talking about. It brings you a certain level of creativity. Now I’m one of the few people in Montreal, probably in North America, who could say that I have a masters degree in non-profit management and an MBA. So a degree in business studies.

So if you want me to talk to you about ethically or that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you donate, I can talk to you about the importance of giving back. I can talk to you from a psychological level about how it makes you feel when you donate and when you contribute, and when you volunteer. I can also talk to you from a P&L perspective of let’s look at your finances. Let’s talk about how we can strategize on how to give, where to give, how your gift will give the most impact, and how you’ll be able to maximize your tax credits.”

Inspiring Younger Generations Towards Philanthropy

“The state of the health of the non-profit community in Montreal is a loaded question. If you look at statistics across Canada, they’ll tell you that the industry is facing giant hurdles and barriers to success in the future. If you look at the statistics again, you have the older generation which is the backbone to philanthropy, specifically here in Montreal but also across Canada. And the younger generation isn’t giving in the same capacity as the older generation.

So if you look at the trends in giving histories, you’ll see that Montreal specifically gives on average less dollars per donation compared to some of the other provinces. So if you’re a pessimist or you look at it from a glass is half empty perspective, you’ll say okay, we’re in trouble. I’m much more positive. I like to see that as there might not be the same quantity or major gifts that are being given from a Montreal perspective, but we can get more.

So from a fundraising perspective, if you need to raise $1,000, you could make a phone call to one person and get $1,000 or you can make 10 phone calls to 10 different people and get $100 in order to get that same results. I’m of the belief that making those calls to those 10 people is worth the effort. You get more engagements. You get more people on the bus. From a business perspective, it also gives you way more security. If you’re running a business and you only have one customer, your livelihood is tied to that one customer. But if you have 10 customers, 10 clients, and you lose one, it’s much less of a burden to replace that one as opposed to that major one.”

The Many Ways To Fundraise in Montreal

“So if you look at Montreal, we are a melting pot for all forms of cultures, faiths, interests, businesses, cultures. However you look at it, Montreal brings everybody together. We have such a rich event-based history. So if the summer’s coming up, you know that there are gonna be festivals. You know that there are gonna be performances. You know there are gonna be concerts. It’s ingrained in us as a society to participate and to have fun and to enjoy.

Fundraising, there are different ways that you can fundraise. You can make the calls, you can send out the letters, you can have events. And events in Montreal is what people love coming out to go and participate in. If you’re gonna do something and people are gonna be wowed and have an incredible experience, and then the icing on the cake is they’re doing it to support a charity, then you have this combination that just makes everybody feel incredibly positive about what you’re accomplishing as a group.”

A Unique Outlook On Life

“Montreal has a unique outlook on life, I would call it. When you talk to someone from Montreal about what makes Montreal a part of “la belle province” or however you look at it, immediately they start talking passionately about the food, the arts, the sports team, the Canadiens, the Expos, their love for going to the parks, their love for walking around. You see that passion come out in a way that they feel proud to be at home and to call Montreal their home.”

The Comfort Of Community & Local Networks

“So I’ve had offers to leave Montreal. Someone with my background, with my experience, I get offers. For me one my family is here, and for me having family close by, one, is a support, but two, is just a personal comfort. That’s huge. Montreal’s also a very close community. So whether you live just off island or whether you live in the heart or downtown or wherever it is, you’re a maximum of 20 minutes to a half hour away from anywhere.

There’s something to be said about the network that’s been built up here in the community. If I need someone to do video, I call you guys. If I need someone to fix my car, I’ve got my person over here. If I pick up and move, I have to reestablish that network. Granted if you look to some of the communities that are close to us, Toronto, Ottawa, it’s not so far of a stretch to figure it out and to make it happen. But I’m comfortable here.

I love it here. I enjoy having everyone that I know close by. Just yesterday I was talking to someone who we bumped in to on the street that I haven’t seen in years, and we connected like we were old, well, we were old friends but we connected as if no time had gone by. Montreal’s the best of the big cities combined with the smaller cities I would call it.”

Younger Generations Now Ready To Take Charge

“Montreal currently in my experience is at this really amazing point in its history. If you look to some of the other prominent top cities in North America, if you look from a historical perspective, you’ll see that there is a tipping point where the older generation handed off the responsibility to the younger generation. Montreal for whatever reason hasn’t had that handoff.

We’re in the middle of that handoff period now. And you see the younger generation is ready, able, and willing to take charge. I was not just in the non-profit sector where you see people my age, people a little bit older, a little bit younger really getting involved in philanthropy, but you see it all the time over here through the construction.

You see it through the food industry. You see it in all the different ways that leadership roles are being created. And it’s because there’s this void. The older generation is starting to step away and make way for the next generation of Montreal leaders to take their place, which is incredible.”

Volunteering & Mentoring Can Make The World Better

“There is so much that’s going on today that I’m at a loss for words to describe. When I see something going on, I’ll look at it, I’ll try my best to understand it. The advances in technology, what we can do today from a fundraising perspective using crowd sourcing and making campaigns, and letting people know that if it’s their birthday, if instead of going to a restaurant and getting 30 bottles of wine, they can tell their friends, thankfully I’m in a spot where I don’t need anymore wine and I don’t need the gift certificates.

Let’s identify a charity. Let’s find kids, animals, faith-based institutions. The impact that people can have without actually making a dent in their own lives is huge. In today’s generation, more and more people are recognizing that you don’t have to give that million-dollar gift to make a true impact in society. The world can be a better place because you’ve stopped and volunteered. The world can be a better place because you spent 20 minutes sitting down with a young student teaching them, pointing them in the right direction, mentoring them.

The world could be a better place because you’ve hired somebody with special needs to do a job that you know they love and they feel passionately about. And they’re gonna be loyal and they’re gonna bring fun and energy and positivity into your life. So from a standpoint of what wows me, what impresses me from today’s Montreal society, technology, we’ve got culture, we’ve got arts. We have so much going on that you’re never at a lost for something to do.”

Positivity Attracts People To Charity

“There are gonna be barriers to success in any industry, whether you’re talking for-profit, non-profit, any type of business that’s been created, there’s gonna be barriers. There’s gonna be excuses. There’s gonna be that down and dirty area that not everyone is gonna wanna go down that road for. At the end of the day you have to always stay focused on what the future is gonna bring, what the collective is going to bring.

If you look at the statistics, charities here in Montreal and across Canada represent about 10% of full-time jobs to the Canadian small business markets. That’s huge. And that’s not taking into account an average of one hundred to let’s say a thousand volunteers depending on the charity. We’re talking full time jobs. That’s a big dent in business for what we’re trying to accomplish. From a standpoint of excuses, people saying they can’t get to where they have to go, people saying that they can’t afford to give financially the same amounts.

I believe strongly in everyone feeling good and positive about the experience that they get while working with a charity. So to treat that million-dollar donor the same way that you’re gonna treat that five-dollar donor or that one-dollar donor makes a huge difference. You never know what somebody’s future is going to hold. You never know what baggage that person has when they’re gonna be coming to you with.

So someone might be coming as a donor because their parent felt passionately about the cause. Their parent was diagnosed with something that touches on what’s going on. They might not have friends. They might have just moved to Montreal and not know anybody and reaching out to a charity is their way of connecting with the larger population.

They might have volunteered at of food bank in Toronto. And they gravitate towards helping out at a food bank here in Montreal, because they’re familiar with it. They might have volunteered with some autistic children back in Ottawa. And when they come to Montreal they reach out and they connect because that’s what they wanna do. They love being around those types of people and that gives them that positivity.

Here in Montreal we’re all about positivity. You can see it the in way that people walk. You can see it in the way that people dress. You can see it in the way that everyone loves going out or having fun. We’re all about that great positive outlook. There’s always going to be something better out there. So it’s just a matter of finding what people are interested in. And more often than not, people don’t say no to the charity. People will say no to the type of ask that’s made.

If me as a professional, I come and I ask someone for $10,000, they might not have that financial flexibility for this $10,000 gift. They might come back to me and they might say, look, I can only give you $100. But that in and of itself is a positive. Every dollar through the door today is a dollar more than we had yesterday. And we can do some beautiful things with those dollars.”

Educating Donors Is Huge

“In order to be a successful non-profit or in order to be revered as a reputable charity in Montreal, transparency has to be huge and it has to be pivotal. Transparency not just to your donors but also to your supporters and also to the populations that you support. So if someone’s gonna offer you any type of monetary figure, it’s important to educate them on where those dollars are going. They also might have some ideas as to where they’d like those dollars to go.

So as an example at Summit School, where I run the foundation, a donor can come to me sometimes and say, I really want, actually, it just happened the other day. Donors have come to me and said, I want to give X amount of money to our floral program. We have a beautiful program where we teach our students how to make flower arrangements. It’s everything that they need. It’s calm, it’s colorful, it’s repetitive.

We’re able to really give these kids the opportunity to shine and create job opportunities for them in the future. So I’ve had donors come to me and say, I want my money to go to here. Not that we don’t need the money but those dollars might be better suited going towards a new piece of adaptive technology for the classroom. Those dollars might be better suited towards some new reading material. It might be better suited towards some technology for our research center.

Educating and having those heart-to-heart conversations with those donors about how you can really bring the most value to their gift is huge. You have to be honest. You have to be genuine. You have to be sincere. And at the same time just like any business, you need to let people know. You need to let your clients know what you need in order to survive, in order to make ends meet. You need to put food on the table.”

Giving Is Good For Business

“Giving is good for business would be the number one thing that I say to people. When I say giving is good for business, what I actually mean is you never lose by giving. There’s always something that you get when you give whether you want to admit it or not. It could be that feeling of positivity and joy and empathy that you get when you give a monetary amount. It could be that feeling that you get when you give of your time to spend with a kid, to organize an event.

It could be the network that you become now a part of, that family element when you show up at an event and you roll up your sleeves, and you get the job done for a greater cause. But there’s always something good that comes from giving. It might not be as a parent immediately, it might be something that happens one, two, three years down the road. But if it’s done properly and it’s done positively, you’re always gonna be able to see things.”

How Can I Improve And Make This Better?

“I see things as all positive. So whatever change happens, I see it as that there’s a reason for it and there’s always a learning opportunity that could come from it. I grew up in the West Island, so hearing stories from my parents about how when they bought their house in Dollard, there was no mall, there was no street, there was no complex for living over here. So I’ve always been sensitive to the evolution of what a community could look like or what a city could look like.

Driving down the street over here I’ll be the first to admit traffic construction on every second corner. It’s not the most pleasant to deal with currently. But you have faith that as the city grows, as the people who are making these decisions to do some of the work that they’re doing, they have a plan. It might not be communicated in the best ways possible but there is a plan. We know that within 10, 15 years, Montreal’s construction is going to be finished. So we hope.

We know that within the next 10, 15 years we’re going to have an incredible augmentation of what our Montreal skyline looks like. From a new bridge to a new intersection down here where they carry is to the other side. We know there’s gonna be a beautiful shopping mall. So the changes are ever growing and everlasting. And we’re always gonna adapt, but that’s how life is.

You’re always going to look at things and say, how can I improve? How can I make this better? And that’s the way that I live within the non-profit worlds. When you think about charities and you think about the organizations that we support, you really wanna be looking at things of how can I go and augment this experience? How can I take what’s going on now and make it better? And it could be something as small as oh wow, our kids at Summit really love this program so we’re gonna do it again.

It could be something as grandiose as our basketball team has never seen an actual basketball game live in person and us reaching out to the Harlem Globetrotters the one time they come to town and getting them tickets, and letting them go meet their idols, and having a blast. Creativity is what spurs and runs our city.

Business owners, startup owners, well-established businesses, if you’re not creative then you rest on your laurels and that’s when problem starts. So you’re always looking for that different way to push. You’re always looking for that different way to differentiate yourself from the pack. And if you look at Montreal when you walk down the streets, that’s what you see. You see colors. You see people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, histories working together to create a beautiful safe place for everybody.”

Technology Helping People With Special Needs

“Technology is an incredible tool. But the same way as if you give somebody a hammer, if they don’t know how to use that hammer, they run the risk of dropping it on their foot and hurting themselves. So when you talk about the special needs community or those with special needs, it’s important to recognize that you need to take the time to teach them how to use it properly.

Because if you’re not gonna use something the way that it needs to be used, it’s going to become a hindrance and it’s gonna become a distraction. And it’s not gonna become something that gives you that positive experience that makes you want to come back and use it again.

Technology from this standpoint, of filming videos, educational content, all of those things are absolutely incredible. It can get your message sent across the world with the click of your finger. It’s amazing. But if you’re not educated and you don’t have the openness to try things out to put yourself out there literally with the click of the button, then it’s not gonna do you any good.

You have to be willing to go out there. You have to be willing to show that you’re a human. You have to be willing to make mistakes. And once you learn and you have open dialogues, that’s when true progress is gonna be made. From a standpoint of helping some of our kids at Summit, technology has done such an incredible job at literally helping them come out of their shells. A lot of the kids at Summit come to us after having less than positive experiences in other schools. And we come and all of a sudden, the kids are invited to birthday parties.

We teach them how to do videos using digital imaging and they’re talking into the microphones, and they’re producing incredible content. We’re showing the kids how they can achieve their greatest potential and it’s not for anybody else to tell them what they can and can’t do. We provide the tools. And technology is absolutely amazing in terms of giving someone an iPad and being able to give them a whole new way to communicate if that’s what they need.

Here in Montreal specifically, one of the things that separates us from a lot of the other cities in Canada and in North America is our public transportation system, which is absolutely a beautiful thing to use. So many people use it. It’s easy, it’s simple. You have monthly passes. For our students we travel train them, and it gives them their independence. They’re no longer reliant on their parents or their friends or whoever else they’re close to in order to bring them to where they have to get to, where they want to get to.

We’re able to show them how to get to work. We’re able to teach them how to get to a friend’s house, how to see a movie, how to go shopping in one of our amazing underground malls in the underground city. The beauty is out there wherever it is that you need to, that you want to look to see how Montreal is at this cusp of embracing the technology. Not just digital and handheld devices, but there’s talk about train stations right across from the school.

They’re building a new hub for the metro station. We’re talking about teaching our kids how to use things like Uber or the taxi apps, paying with mobile devices for some of our kids who aren’t necessarily able to count change. Some incredible way from a security standpoint, our families are able to know where their children are at all times. They can be confident if their children go to the movies and go on their own with some friends. That with a click of a button they can check in and they can see where their kids are.

From a standpoint of safety, Montreal’s a very safe big city. Not that things don’t happen but Montreal’s statistically speaking is a very safe city. We’re able to use that as a badge of pride. You can walk up and down the streets and not be afraid. You can’t say the same thing, I mean, any city has their areas where you should stay away from. But for the most part, people walk the streets, they’re confident. They’re happy.”

Collaboration In Non-Profit Sector

“The idea of fundraising, it’s not rocket science. It’s not anything new. People had been giving if you look historically since the early ages of man. Whether it’s giving an apple or a piece of bread to somebody as they’re passing along the side of a sand road to giving money because of temple worships or anything in between.

From the sense of best practices, it’s been my experience that everybody is very open to sharing. Here in Montreal we’re very fortunate. I’ve come across a lot of different community professionals, each one shares successes as a badge of success and as a model in which they can help the greater community at large. There are other communities where that same level of collaboration doesn’t exist. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. What we do is for us. You can figure it out on your own is their mentality.

There’s a sense of anxiety over people stealing other people’s donors, people stealing other people’s events. Because Montreal is so small, we’re able to get and connect with people. Now it’s a double-edged sword. Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. Because Montreal is so small, everybody knows from the non-profit world who the big donors are. And the big donors are asked for donations all the time, and there’s a limit to what they’re able to give.

From a Montreal collaborative perspective though there’s so much potential. I’ve reached out to different charities and asked them for guidance, asked them for support. I’ve received funding from other non-profit organizations because they believe in what we do and they believe in helping. So as long as everybody’s willing to put their egos aside, and that’s the first thing that I can say, ’cause it’s not about us. It’s not about the professionals.

It’s not about the volunteers even though an argument can be made that it’s for the volunteers. It’s about our cause. It’s about our kids. It’s about the community at large, and it’s about leaving the world a better place when we’re through with it. And that’s what we have to recognize and that’s what we have to do.”

Technology Connects Seniors Like Never Before

“Thinking back over all the organizations, all the business that we have here in Montreal, we’re recognizing that everyone has their own mortality. And the needs of somebody when they’re in their 30s, 40s, 50s are different than the needs that one might have when they’re in their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, hopefully 100s.

But with the advances of medical technology, more and more people are able to extend their working years. The question of what is a senior and when do you accept being a senior? You could go by the movie theater rate. So once you go 60, you are eligible for senior’s rates at a couple of dollars less to gain entry. You could go with the government’s definition of seniors in terms of when you’re eligible to start tapping into your retirement plans.

And there’s everything that’s in between. From a Montreal standpoint, when you think of seniors, when you think of the aging population, for me I think of those movie scenes when you have the elderly people who are sitting in parks feeding the birds, throwing a, not really throwing a frisbee but sitting in parks, feeding the birds, hanging out by a lake. And when you look at Montreal, we have all of those places within 15 minutes from each other, 20 minutes of each other.

If anyone wants and they’re not able to drive, they can use technology, press a button, and a taxi or an Uber will pick them up. If they wanna get on the metro and still have their independence, they can go out and they can get to wherever it is that they wanna get to. Technology is connecting the seniors in the aging population in a way that no other generation has been able to do.

I mean, I was talking to somebody two days ago whose parents moved to Florida. They can still stay in touch with them on a daily basis. They have their emails set up that when a flight goes on sale, they get notified and they can buy a ticket immediately for whenever they wanna go. So the gap is really, really closed in and minimized from the advent of technology.”

Giving Comes In Many Forms

“The biggest stumbling block or the biggest barrier from the non-profit worlds, again, is the younger generation isn’t giving at the same level as the older generation. They’re giving in different ways. But if you look at the numbers, it’s nowhere close. Some experts are saying that within 10 years the charitable world is gonna be in trouble because the numbers don’t justify the means.

I’m a big believer in there are three ways that you can make it in the world from a business standpoint. You can either wait for business to come to you, you can buy it so you can take up big billboard ads and come up with incredible campaigns. And you can pay for analytics for this video to able to go out and share with the world, and hope that there’s a return on the investment.

I know that if I pay $100 for this video to go out and target specific areas, I’ll get at least one donation of $100 back for Summit. I don’t know for sure but I say that with enough confidence. Or you can go out and you can get it. You can go out and you can make the connections with the people who you know you’re going to need to have as your supporters. You can educate them.

I’m a big believer that if you’re not giving to Summit School, I hope that you’re going to be giving to somewhere else, to another worthy cause. For me, there’s always a level of collaboration that we can have. And according to stats, here in Montreal, close to 83% of Montrealers identify as having given a donation in some capacity.

Just because they identify with giving a donation, a lot of people in the industry will say that’s a conflict in terms of what people’s taxes show, because not everyone declares that they received a donation receipt for giving their donation. And they look at it with a glass half full perspective.

I see it as the opposite. I see it as it means that more and more people are identifying giving donations as possibly non-monetary gifts. They’re giving of their time. They’re giving off their connections. They’re giving of their resources and they associate that with giving a donation. Or people are getting their donation receipts and they’re not even paying attention to them because that’s not why they’re giving.

They’re giving money to a charity because they believe wholeheartedly in that charity. And again, the optimist in me says, I think that they’re giving because they genuinely want to give. I don’t want anything. You keep it all. I don’t need a tax break, I don’t need this. I don’t need anything like that. Whether that’s true or not, that might be the ignorance in me to a certain level. But again, positivity hopefully prevails.”

Montreal Is Accepting Of Neurodiversity

“We have spoken at lengths about how Montreal is known for its diversity. It’s known as being a melting pot. It’s known for being a place that everyone can fit in, everyone can find their own milieu, their own niche, their own area where they can succeed. When talking about neurodiversity, what we need to remember and we need to keep in the back of our minds is that that’s a different form of diversity. It might not be something that’s visible right off the bat, but it’s something that needs to be recognized as another one of the absolutely incredible elements of accepting that Montreal community has embraced. Whether it be through arts, whether it be through culture, whether it be through the food industry.”

Summit School Grads Can Help Change Your Business

“The students and children at Summit are absolutely incredible. I invite anybody to come spend a day at Summit to see how positive and how wonderful it is. But when thinking about it from a diversity perspective and accessibility, Montreal is at the cusp of some incredible things. And you could see it from the way that businesses are openly talking about how they’re looking for individuals with special needs. They want to hire these people.

Studies show and the stats are there to back it up that people from the special needs community, Summit graduates, they’re positive. They’re loyal. They are genuinely happy and sincere. And what you see when you hire someone, one of our Summit grads is that they change the complexion of your business especially for small businesses. Because when you look at things from their eyes, you see a different outlook.

And the same can be said for Montreal. When you look at things from somebody else’s perspective, you know what they’re bringing with them. But everyone has their own experiences. Everybody has their own area where they can contribute. And a Summit we really give all of these kids and young adults the opportunity to shine. We want them to become independent. We want them to become contributing members of society, but within their own frame, within their own potential. If I were to ask somebody who’s an accountant to pick up a computer, a mouse, and do some graphic design, you’re not going to get the results that you’re looking for.

It’s the same thing when you’re talking about the sensitivities associated with special needs community. You need to give them the opportunity to learn. And sometimes it might take a little bit longer to figure out what works for them. But once they get things going and once they figure it out, the possibilities are endless for success.”

Summit School Recognizes Diversity & Accepts Differences

“Summit School is a place where over 600 students with neurodevelopmental disabilities are able to call home. They’re able to show up every day and get an incredible education. Summit is unique from the standpoint of other schools and educational institutions here in Montreal from the sense that all of our experts, all of the extra services that this population needs is housed under one roof.

So if there’s a student or a child who needs to see an occupational therapist, it’s in a house. If there’s a student who needs to see a speech therapist or a physiotherapist or a social worker, everything is under one roof. We have three campuses, two in Saint-Laurent, one in downtown. We have children who are aged four years old until 21. Ultimately what we try to do is allow each and everyone of our students the opportunity to achieve their potential, to awaken their potential on an individual level.

What works for one kid, what’s a success for one might not be even capable for another one. But whatever that kid, whatever that child is able to do, our staff and professionals work together to make sure that that child is able to achieve it in the most positive ways. We are a private school in the public interest.

What that means is that the Ministry of Quebec Education offsets pretty much all of the tuition needs of our families. So that could range to the tune of close to $23,000 a student. And when you have 600 students, that ends up being a very significant portion of the Quebec allocations. There’s always more.

There’s always a need to do more. But when you look at it from a financial perspective, our beautiful province has said we recognize the needs of these populations. And we’re going to do what we can in order to help make their lives easier, in order to help make sure that these kids are able to be contributing members of society to the best of their capabilities.

So that’s where Summit comes into place, where we have beautiful job training programs for our students once they reach the age of 18, downtown. We travel train them on how to get to the downtown campus. We teach them skills that they can then go and become hired in the for-profit world. We have a leather program where we teach the students how to sew and how to make beautiful items out of leather.

We have a floral program where we teach the students how to make flower arrangements. We have a print shop and a print studio where we teach them and instruct them and give them actual experience at what it takes to make print copies, what it takes to make binders, what it takes to do all these things. We have an incredible tech bistro program where they learn how to work in an industrial kitchen.

We have professional chefs that come to the school and they work with our students. They teach them so that when they apply and when they work in one of these jobs, they’re already familiar. We have a beautiful creative arts program, where just this past February our students performed a play called Letter to My Disability, which came from a school exercise of them actually writing letters to their disabilities.

And we created a play it was actually put on at the Segal Center for five shows, which is beautiful. And when you think about it from a vocational training standpoints, these students if they’re aspiring actors, which some of them are, now have on their resumes that they performed at the Segal Center, which is something that separates them from a lot of the other aspiring actors in a positive way where they’re recognized for what makes them different.

Which then echoes what the Montreal culture is all about, recognizing diversity, accepting people’s differences, and knowing that there’s a way to succeed in spite of whatever limitations one might have.”

Share Your Happiness With Somebody Else

“If you’re watching this video, think about what it is that makes you happy. Think about what it is that if you were to share it with somebody else, that that’ll really make you feel great and help share your passion with somebody else. If you’re able to identify something that you feel passionately about, share it, don’t keep it within yourself.

Go, Google, use the technology, use French, use English, use any language that you’re comfortable in. I promise you there’s a charity out there for you. I promise you there’s a way for you to be able to give back based on your time, based on your interest, based on your financial flexibility. There’s so many ways to give back. There’s so many ways that you can donate. Get involved. Help out. Pick up the phone. Send a text. Send an email. That’s the only way we’re gonna be able to make the world a better place.”