Saint Henry’s Welcome Hall Mission, in Montreal Sud-Ouest borough, will soon mark its 125th anniversary and with it comes a new face.
As of last week, Sam Watts was officially the new CEO and executive director and he already knows what he wants to see during his tenure.
“I have a vision that there would be no hungry Montrealers. Imagine that,” Watts said.
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However, Watts, who has been transitioning into his new role for three months, is fully aware that it will be a tough goal to meet.
“We have yet to see a decline in new clients. Every week, for example, there’s 50 new clients in our food bank.”
Now more than a food bank and shelter, Welcome Hall Mission offers many services like dentistry and a thrift shop.
But during his short time at Welcome Hall Mission, Watts noticed a worrying trend.
“We’re also seeing people who are working hard but just not getting ahead,” Watts said. “We have an opportunity as an organization to address that.”
Watts is talking about the working poor and to help, he wants to build bridges with business leaders and politicians.
“I think sometimes we can get confrontational and I think that’s a bad thing. We prefer at Welcome Hall Mission that we collaborate, that we partner with people,” Watts said.
Watts is a businessman by trade, having spent 30 years in the private sector in various positions, most recently, as a consultant to corporations, government and non-profit organizations on performance efficiency.
He said that will help him in his new job.
“An organization like Welcome Hall Mission is a large enough corporation – it takes about $18 million a year to run this place,” Watts said. “And there are various parts and pieces to it, so it’s a lot like managing a business.”
As the mission moves forward in the hopes of better serving the community, Watts is certain the South West borough will make it through this economic downturn just fine.
“This community [has] some of the most courageous people that you’re ever going to meet,” Watts said. “These are people, who are, in many cases, struggling but they’re full of courage and full of hope.”
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