Women's day shelter Chez Doris back on track after $660K renovations

Centre had to temporarily scale back programming while six rooms including its basement were gutted.

Wall detached from building, six rooms, basement needed to be gutted

Marina Boulos, director of Chez Doris, said she was there when the basement wall started to come down. (CBC)

After undergoing major renovations, Chez Doris, a women's day shelter, is now back to its regular routine, offering all of its services and programs in a new and improved space.

As the only women's day shelter in Montreal that's open seven days a week, many women coping with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and addictions rely on its services.

"It was hard on our homeless clientele who depend on us," said director Marina Boulos. 

"I was there when the wall detached from the rest of the building. I probably woke up every single day for two weeks with a headache."

During renovation, six rooms were completely gutted, including the basement which needed structural and cosmetic repairs.

In all, Boulos said the renovations cost more than $660,000, which was paid for through private donations.

Chez Doris provides its clients with breakfast and lunch, access to showers, hygienic products and clean clothes as well as a wide array of activities.

"They can now have access to programs like yoga, arts and crafts workshops. They can look forward to AA meetings. A lot of that had to be either paired down or completely cancelled," Boulos said.

Part of the basement wall had to be completely gutted and replaced. (CBC)

'It means a lot'

The relaunching of many of these events is welcome news for artist Mary Sharky, who says she relies on the shelter.

"It means a lot because they help so many people on the streets. It's not easy living on the streets. I have been on the streets," she said.

She is one of over 100 women who use the shelter's services daily.

A holiday event on Sunday provided an opportunity for women who use the centre, staff and donors to come together. (CBC)

"I do come here to do some art," she said.

On Sunday, users of the centre came together with staff and donors to celebrate the completion of the work.

Martha Belanger, a long-time financial supporter of Chez Doris, has a personal stake in the building's heritage since it originally belonged to her grandfather.

"I support it every year," said Belanger. "To see the work being done there is very satisfying."

Martha Belanger is a longtime supporter of Chez Doris. (CBC)

With files from Navneet Pall