Local organization continues to provide
for those in need

The Supporting Parc-Extension Residents Project has continued to serve the community by providing food, services and events to Parc-Ex residents most in need.
Funded by the Sarker Hope Foundation, The Red Cross and the Government of Canada, the organization was established to help those most affected by the pandemic, which “laid bare the inequities and injustices that threaten people’s well-being, safety and lives.”
Helping neighbours
Dr. Asad Rahman is the project director and has over ten years experience in international development. “We are working to build a better Parc-Extension, joining everyone,” he said, adding they wanted to help young people, seniors, people with disabilities, people affected by COVID-19 or anyone else who needed it.
“Through this project we are supporting residents by offering transport services, distributing face masks and gloves, distributing food boxes for some people and hosting children’s virtual competitions and children’s events,” said Rahman.
Rahman said that the project aimed to facilitate access to essential service providers such as healthcare, mental health services and access to education for low-income residents.
They also have a helpline with five official minority languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Punjabi, and invite anyone with questions or need of advice to call.
Filling a gap
At it’s outset, the project’s objective was to fill a gap in the community, where existing social services were not well provided, especially with regards to the South Asian community. “Government and local service providers can’t reach people who need it most,” said Rahman.
“Even in Quebec and in Montreal it’s very difficult to get counselling or a psychologist that can speak in another language than French or English,” said Rahman, adding that this was a barrier for many to getting proper service. “We’re helping to provide counselling with their native language,” said Rahman.
Rahman also said the organization was trying to get healthcare providers in the neighbourhood like the CLSC, to increase its service to asylum seekers. “There is no official clinic or any hospital for them,” he said, adding that there is only availability for 10 to 15 people every week. “This is a need for the refugee claimants,” said Rahman.
The project has also helped provide targeted food aid in Parc-Extension. Rahman underlines the expertise and long service of local food banks but also suggested they didn’t always meet the needs of immigrant communities who “use different ingredients to make their food.”
“They receive pasta, juice, and coffee,” said Rahman, adding that “most of the residents cannot use this foodstuff.”
The Supporting Parc-Extension Residents Project is therefore working with residents and service providers in the neighbourhood to “understand what actually people expect from them,” said Rahman. “There is a gap between the supply side and demand side,” he said.
Devotion to the community
City councillor for Parc-Extension Mary Deros fully supports the project and the positive impact it has on the community. “They’re helping the citizens,” said Deros, adding that oftentimes due to language or cultural barriers “these citizens would not know where to go.”
Deros especially commended the work and funding Mustaque Sarker has been contributing through the Sarker Hope Foundation. “Because the Sarker foundation has people that speak several South Asian languages, they’re able to give the support that’s required by these families,” she said.
“It’s much appreciated,” said Deros, adding that she was interested to get involved in any way she could. Deros has also recently donated $500 to help the project buy 500 tablets for students who need them for online learning.
The tablets will be gradually distributed to children in need throughout the spring, where 5 to 7 children will be given one every week, said Rahman.
Getting a hand and getting involved
The Supporting Parc-Extension Residents Project has a website and helpline where anyone in need of help can contact them. Services are available on an eligibility basis seeing as resources are limited, but the group nonetheless encourages residents to get in touch and grow the aid network.
Like many social aid organizations, it is a dedicated team of 57 registered volunteers who run the operations. The Residents Project also underlined their constant need for helping hands and call on anyone wanting to help in their community to reach out to them.
“In the summer we need so many volunteers, because of so many activities, cultural activities, children events and mask distribution; so many events,” said Rahman, encouraging people to volunteer some of their time or donate to the cause.
“Parc-extension is multi-diversity area; it’s the beauty of Canada,” said Rahman, adding that “if you want to see Canada, you have to come to Parc-Ex.” He concluded by saying that it was important to look after, not just some, but all in the community.
How to get in touch
Helpline: (888) 524-2510 & (855) 906-0322
Website: https://www.sarkerhopefoundation.org/sper/
Volunteer: https://www.sarkerhopefoundation.org/become-a-volunteer/