Article and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – In the ongoing battle against hunger and food insecurity, the Agape Centre has remained a beacon of hope for the community. Founded in 1971, this charitable organization has been diligently working towards eliminating hunger and ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry. Collaborating with local partners, the Agape Centre has not only found innovative solutions to address hunger but has also fostered a sense of community where support and nourishment are readily available to those in need.
Being the area’s largest food bank and community kitchen, the Agape Centre has played a pivotal role in supporting over 3000 individuals monthly through its food bank program. Additionally, the organization has served over 150 hot meals each weekday, providing nutritious sustenance to those who may otherwise go without.
At the heart of this impactful organization is the dedicated Executive Director, Lisa Duprau, whose extensive background in the social service field has been instrumental in guiding the Agape Centre’s mission. Joining the Board of Directors in 2017, Lisa Duprau witnessed first-hand the harsh realities of poverty, hunger, and homelessness in the area, motivating her to take on the vacant role of Executive Director in 2019.
One of the primary responsibilities of the Executive Director in this non-profit organization is to forge partnerships within the community, generating revenue through social enterprises, and spearheading fundraising initiatives. Without sustainable funding, the Agape Centre relies heavily on the leadership and strategic vision of Lisa Duprau to ensure its continued success and uninterrupted service to those in need. Over the past four years, Lisa Duprau has worked tirelessly to maintain a positive community profile to ensure the Agape Centre’s success.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – What needs or issues does your organization address in our community?
“The Agape Centre’s main focus is to support families and individuals who are struggling with poverty and food insecurity. We try to provide programs and services that provide financial relief in addition to monthly food relief. Free haircuts two times a year, Christmas parties for children, income tax clinics, pet food pantry, bicycle repair clinics, and the new Kid’s Community Kitchen breakfast and lunch program are just a few opportunities that we offer.”
2 – Tell us about an outcome or success story your organization has had.
“The onset of Covid-19 in March 2020 meant restricted public access to the Agape Centre. Food hampers were prepared and distributed to families at the front door, removing people’s ability to shop and choose their own items. Our numbers continued to grow throughout the pandemic, creating an impossible situation where we could no longer accommodate the number of people needing support in our current space. Thankfully, we secured a grant through Feed Ontario to complete the necessary renovations to meet the needs of our community. In November 2022, we opened The Community Market, which resembles a small grocery store complete with shopping carts, fresh produce, and dry goods. Once again, people can shop in person with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
3 – What should the public know about your organization/services?
“The Agape Centre is open to anyone in need. Our mandate is to feed people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, abilities, religions, genders, and orientations and anyone experiencing mental or physical health issues or struggling with addiction. We believe everyone deserves to be treated in a fair and equitable manner. Our organization cultivates strong relationships with a network of partners to ensure that our services are reaching as many in our community as possible. Anyone can knock on the door for help, we do not judge, and no one hears no.”
4 – Tell us about volunteers and what they mean to your organization.
“Volunteers are key to our success. As a large non-profit, we do require paid staff, but we could not provide the programs and services that we do without our group of dedicated volunteers. They work alongside staff in the community market, New For You thrift shoppe and community kitchen, and attend food drives, fundraising events, and Bingos. Volunteers decide how much time they can dedicate to the Agape Centre, and we are grateful for every minute they are with us. What they bring to our team is immeasurable.”
5 – What is your organization’s most significant accomplishment?
“I believe our most significant accomplishment has been managing to continuously meet the needs of our community. Our numbers have risen from 1200 people monthly in March of 2020 to now supporting over 3000 people, 1100 of which are children. This is in addition to the weekday hot meals that we serve to over 150 individuals. The rising costs of housing and food combined with low wages create an impossible situation for many people in our community. Numbers continue to climb, and we continue to help families keep food on their tables.”
Visit the Agape Centre website for more information about their services.