A few facts and highlights
Between 1848 and 1895, the SSVP helps more than 44,000 families.
The very first Guignolée is organized. Participating volunteers—called guignoleux—go from door to door to collect food and funds for Christmas baskets to be distributed to the poor. This tradition lives on throughout Quebec, it returns every year as the holiday season begins.
The SSVP is particularly concerned about children. Its contribution to the construction of the Saint-Arsène Orphanage demonstrates this. Later, it becomes involved in the Goutte de lait (Drop of milk) childcare centres and partners with the Montreal Catholic School Board, to determine how many children are skipping school because of their lack of clothing and to remedy the situation.
During the First World War, our volunteers boost the morale of the troops by providing them with the necessary supplies to write to their loved ones and by sending parcels to soldiers on the front.
In 1918, the SSVP plays a major role in the fight against the Spanish flu pandemic, which would claim the lives of more than 3,500 Montrealers.
During the Great Depression of the Thirties, the Société significantly broadens its network. Some soup kitchens serve up to half-a-million hot meals per year. In response to government requests, it takes charge of direct support to the population; this program eventually gives birth to what is now known as Employment Insurance.
In 1934, the SSVP creates the Grenier du pauvre (Pauper’s attic shop). Volunteers start collecting old furniture, to be refurbished, then given to people in need. Nowadays, a similar workshop serves as the basis for our back-to-work program.
To this day, the Société remains a trusting resource when disaster strikes. Our team sees to the efficient management of large relief operations and participates in the effort anyway it can. Examples include our efforts during the “Red Weekend” in November of 1974, the 1996 Saguenay floods and the ice storm crisis in 1998.