Generations — building a strong foundation
by Trina Ann Pion
Staring off into space, a child daydreams instead of multiplying fractions. She wiggles in her seat hoping only she can hear her stomach grumbling. Maybe it ’s the end of the month and her family has run out of groceries; maybe she didn’t have time to eat that morning; maybe breakfast isn’t a priority at home. Whatever the reason, learning is not what’s on her mind.
Adrian Bercovici, Generations Foundation’s founder and Executive Director, understands what these kids are going through and has made it his mission to prevent classroom hunger.
“We feed 6,500 kids every day, but the food itself is not as important as the energy these kids get from it, ” Bercovici said. “Many of these kids were falling asleep at their desks.”
The Generations Foundation holds bi-annual fundraisers at Ville St. Laurent’s Buffet La Stanza to raise money for their program. Unfortunately, the latest breakfast was May 24 when the bus strike was causing havoc for Montreal travelers.
“The strike affected us,” said Bercovici afterwards. “These guys have taken food from the kids’ mouths. We had 1500 people at the breakfast last year. This year, there was only 950 or 975. We broke our record last year with $75,000, but we only got $63,000 or $64,000 this year. ”
Many people dropped off donations and apologized for not having time to stay, but Bercovici explained that these people didn ’t have a chance to join in activities such as the raffle, which had its lowest sales ever. Nevertheless, some were expecting worse.
“I’m very impressed with the turnout considering the problems with transportation,” Sun Youth’s Vice-president Sid Stevens said. “It’s obvious people really care about the cause. This support is a tribute to Adrian and Natalie for all their hard work in the past couple of years.”
Besides regular customers, the restaurant was packed with kids, teachers and parents wanting to help the foundation raise money.
“It’s perfect. The kids are having a blast and it’s all for a good cause,” said Point St. Charles resident, Brian Taylor, while having breakfast with his wife and kids. “The Point is a low-income place so any support or money that helps the community is very much appreciated.”
St. Gabriel Elementary School director Debbie Thomas said that 75% of their students have the hot lunch program.
“We usually try to get the 6th graders to come,” Thomas said. “We called and asked Adrian and Natalie, who not only agreed but set up a bus for us as well. They ’re a great help.”
While many students were given a chance to have an all-you-can-eat breakfast and join in activities, others were seen busy at work in an attempt to give back to Generations for their generosity. Volunteer students from Lakeside Academy and other schools cleared tables and served drinks with La Stanza ’s staff.
“Our teacher told us about this,” said student Mary Hubert. “We have the program at our school so we signed up to help.”
Besides food, the foundation also gives students personalized Christmas presents, Easter bunnies from Costco ’s, school supplies and other childhood essentials, such as after-school programs and the chance to go to camp in the summer. Bercovici said they have also started helping kids with individual confidence issues.
“We’ve started paying for orthodontist work for kids in group homes because the government wouldn ’t do it,” Bercovici said. “It started with a kid who was having a lot of trouble because her teeth were growing out the sides of her gums. Once her teeth were fixed she switched schools and really excelled.”
All of this support doesn’t come without a price. Generations must raise enough money to reach a $650,000 budget, which is why fundraisers are so important.
“Think about these kids that don’t eat,” said Montreal Police commandant Michel Lecompte. “In 20 or 30 years, they will be running things. They are our future. We’ve got to feed them. When you build a house, if the foundation is weak, the building falls down.”
To make donations, volunteer or for more information call (514) 933-8585 or visit www.generationsfoundation.com