Agence Ometz opens new centre for young adults

From left, Ometz president Joel Shalit, Ometz CEO Dominique McCaughey, Margaret and Larry Naschen L’Annexe Award winners Cass Ranger and J-Rob: Sharon Azrieli, a director of the Azrieli Foundation Board; and Naomi Azrieli, CEO and Chair of the Azrieli Foundation, cut the ribbon to officially open L'Annexe. Joel Goldenberg Photo

Agence Ometz, the Jewish human services agency that offers social, employment and immigration services, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to officially launch the young adult centre L’Annexe, located on the second floor of the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA in Snowdon.

The new centre, whose official opening event was delayed for two years because of the COVID pandemic and had initially opened in March 2020, is an “innovative hub and service centre for young people from 16 to 35 that helps them engage in community and discover their unique vision of well being,” Ometz CEO Dominique McCaughey told the event.

McCaughey added that “none of this would have been possible without the Azrieli Foundation (represented at the event by Foundation chair Naomi Azrieli, sister and Foundtion board member Sharon and mother Stephanie) and Steven Kaplan of Reliance Construction — our lead funders, who were willing to listen to our dream and invest in it.”

L’Annexe “provides individual support services as well as a wide variety of programs, including community events, employment assistance, and wellness and skill-building workshops.”

“Ometz used to only work with youth and young adults as part of a family unit,” said Susan Karpman, Ometz’s Chief Program Officer. “Over time, we realized that it would be beneficial to also provide support directly to young people, helping them on their individual journeys into adulthood. We also realized that this new approach to engaging young adults would require a new physical space.”

Lanya McClintock, L’Annexe’s manager, explained that “on any given day, young adults might drop by for a photography workshop or baking club or a group therapy session or just to hang out. Staff and clients mingle freely. There are areas that are designed for being social and there are areas designed to catch your breath and take a minute to yourself. The informal setting reflects L’Annexe’s holistic, wraparound approach.”

Naomi Azrieli told the gathering that the opening event is “really a remarkable moment.

“A moment to take stock, to express gratitude, to mark how we have, how we are, how we will, always come together as a community,” she said. “This is a moment that has been a long time coming. We were very engaged back in 2018… we had already expressed our commitment.”

Azrieli added that “the concept of empowerment is something we actually think a lot about at the Foundation. We’re constantly asking ourselves to imagine what the world would be like if we were all truly empowered to reach our potential, and we believe that everyone, from our most vulnerable to our most exceptional, has a contribution to make, and this potential to flourish needs guidance, support and an empathetic hand and a generous heart.”

The Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation was also recognized for its support by Ometz president Joel Shalit.

During the event, Cass Ranger and Jared Roboz aka J-Rob,  two young adults who experienced challenges and benefited from what L’Annexe offers, were presented with the Margaret and Larry Naschen L’Annexe Award.

Also on hand were former Ometz CEO Gail Small, who “played a vital role in the vision and execution of L’Annexe”; Jonathan Sigler, representing Federation CJA and recently President of Kehilla Montreal Residential Programs; and representing Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, his legislative assistant Matthjis van Wijck; and many others.

Originally published in The Suburban. View the original article here.