Co-op Week: some 7,100 Desjardins officers and employees join forces to help young people, including residents of the 30 Auberges du cœur youth shelters


Lévis (Qc), October 18, 2017 - "The Auberges du cœur is a network of 30 youth shelters across Quebec. Every year, they provide shelter and support for more than 3,500 at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 30, many of whom are homeless and most of whom haven't finished high school. The Auberges du cœur help them regain their self-esteem and find hope in the future. The people who work at the centres are there to listen, support and guide these young people so that they can reintegrate into society, go back to school, get a job or find housing."

Guy Cormier, Desjardins Group President and CEO, went on to express his pride in the commitment of the 250 Desjardins employees who are doing their part for the Auberges du cœur youth shelters during Co-op Week, which runs from October 15 to 21. They'll be putting their backs into some seasonal chores and offering the residents care packages. Mr. Cormier also announced that, over the next three years, the Desjardins Foundation will be donating $90,000 to the Auberges du cœur foundation. Watch the video (in French only) about this partnership:

"Our young residents come from all walks of life. They struggle with issues caused by social isolation, emotional deprivation, violence, and mental and physical health problems. Many have dropped out of school and face financial insecurity. We can't solve every problem, but we can be part of the solution," explained Michèle Noël, General Manager of the Auberges du cœur foundation. 

More than 7,100 Desjardins officers, employees and retirees mobilized

As well as helping out at the Auberges du cœur, Desjardins Group officers, employees and retirees got involved in a host of other initiatives to benefit young people. In fact, Co-op Week is set to mobilize more than 7,100 officers, employees and retirees and will donate $1.5 million to schools and organizations that support youth in Ontario and Quebec. 

Just some of the projects that the Desjardins caisses and the rest of Desjardins Group are involved in: 

  • Donation of pedal desks to three elementary schools in Châteauguay to help children with ADHD. Six other schools in the area will receive pedal desks in the next two years.
  • 370 elementary school students in the Ottawa Valley will attend a play by Théâtre Parminou called Pareil, pas pareille on the subject of inclusion and respecting differences.
  • On October 19 and 20, nine athletes will run a non-stop relay race covering 275 km of the Chemin du Roy to raise $20,000 for seven schools in towns and cities between Montreal and Lévis (Montreal, Repentigny, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Neuville, Quebec City, Lévis and one to determined).
  • The financial education program for young adults Personal Finance: I'm in Charge will be extended to Montreal's south shore as well as L'Islet, Montmagny, Abitibi, Sept-Îles, Sorel-Tracy, Charlevoix, Charlevoix-Est, L'Île-aux-Coudres and Lévis.
  • As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week 2017, hundreds of Desjardins employees made personal pledges to help keep teen drivers safe and to join the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #GetHomeSafe.
  • In their 25th anniversary year, Desjardins Bank in Florida donated $2,500 to elementary school students in the Florida Keys, an area that was badly affected by Hurricane Irma.
  • Around 50 employees raised $5,000 to help two local schools in Lévis (Auberivière and Desjardins) make improvements to their schoolyards.
  • In partnership with the Refuge des jeunes de Montréal, employees at three Desjardins caisses will be pitching in to help out in the kitchens, collecting and sorting food supplies, and cleaning the dormitories.
  • A number of student scholarships will be awarded--in 2017, 185 caisses will award $874,000 in Desjardins Foundation scholarships to 481 students in Ontario and Quebec.  

Nurturing hope for a better tomorrow

In an open letter published earlier this week, Guy Cormier explained that in his 18 months at the head of Desjardins Group, he has reached out to young people in Ontario and Quebec. "Many young people tell me that what they want most is for our society to make room for everyone. They want to be accepted despite their differences. They also question an economic model that only values short-term profit, with no consideration for people or the environment. I share their concerns."  

He went on to say that "letting the number of excluded rise is not the road to long-term progress. We all need to believe that there can be a better tomorrow. I encourage you to support local organizations working to help young people succeed. Organizations that offer them a wide array of leisure activities to explore. Organizations that encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to stay in school. Organizations that help them join the workforce or get their own businesses off the ground." 

#DesjardinsFoundation Prizes

The Desjardins Foundation will take advantage of Co-op Week to encourage applications for the #DesjardinsFoundation Prizes. The program provides $450,000 in financial assistance, so people who work with kids can undertake projects with students from kindergarten through high school. Desjardins Group officers and employees will vote on the projects that will receive up to $3,000 each. Prizes will be awarded in each region of Quebec and Ontario where Desjardins does business. Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on November 6, 2017. Projects can be submitted via: In 2016, #DesjardinsFoundation Prizes supported 131 projects, benefiting 23,444 young people. 

Co-op Week takes place every year in October with activities across Canada. It's a reminder of the mission and values that guide all cooperatives.

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