May | Kirstie Jagoe, aka “Volunteer Extraordinaire”
I first got acquainted with Kirstie through a city wide initiative which she runs called Bread & Beyond. Montrealer’s across the city volunteer weekly to feed the homeless and less fortunate at various Montreal shelters. Kirstie’s energy, drive and vision is remarkable.
In the past year of Bread & Beyond’s existence, she, along with an amazing team of Montrealer’s have provided thousands of meals for those in need, collected 100s of items most needed by the shelters and raised awareness of the issues experienced by people experiencing homelessness in Montreal.
Kirstie moved to Montreal from England over 10 years ago to relocate along with her husband Dr Thomas Jagoe, a pulmonologist working at the Jewish General Hospital. Once arriving here, this mother of two worked in the international development field, where she led projects focused on women’s health and domestic cooking across Africa and Asia. The COVID lockdown meant the overseas projects were put on hold- - at the same time as a growing crisis for the homeless population in Montreal. Kirstie says she felt the need for a sense of purpose and took the initiative to reach out to a local shelter, asking if they needed help.
Their response was overwhelming and that’s when Kirstie embarked on this amazing journey. “It was very organic” she says. She saw a need and fulfilled it. She believed in the purpose which had a tremendous domino effect. She has created an uber organized and very user-friendly platform to help individuals as well as organizations, such as schools and workplaces, in the local communities, meet the changing and urgent needs of shelters.
Bread & Beyond has recently received charitable status by the government which is a HUGE deal! They provide over 3000 sandwiches each week to a total of 8 Montreal shelters. Thanks to its over 180 volunteers who make this possible. Kirstie says that the sandwiches have created a pathway to provide what they need to connect with a larger community and offer a safe way to give back. She has recently left her full time job to dedicate 100% of her time to this wonderful cause.
JETELOVE asked, “What inspires you?” She says; ”It’s both kindness and determination to make a positive change in the world despite obstacles. We need to keep moving forward.”
What’s next for Bread & Beyond? They are presently working on building workshops with schools to explore and challenge the stigma, disconnection, misunderstanding and negative attitudes we see so frequently directed towards people experiencing homelessness. They are also working on getting funding in order to help launch an app called “Need Seeker”. Very user friendly, which will help Montrealer’s connect and see the current needs of the shelters beyond sandwiches, ie; clothing, toiletries etc.
She told us about another exciting upcoming project; the “Essential Box Initiative ” which provides the essential items people need when they first enter their new home after a period of homelessness. They will be seeking donations for items in the following categories; kitchen, bathroom, groceries and bedroom needs.
We are thrilled to highlight such a driven and dynamic woman as our Montrealer of the month and look forward to seeing where her next venture will take her.
Thank you Kirstie for your passion, your vision & your drive. We are BEYONDDDDDDD lucky to have you leading the way. #montrealtelove.
For more information on Bread & Beyond and how you can join the B&B tribe, please visit their Facebook and Instagram @teambreadandbeyond