'Lighthouse in the storm': New centre in Saint-Michel offers support for vulnerable mothers

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'Lighthouse in the storm': New centre in Saint-Michel offers support for vulnerable mothers

An organization that offers care and follows families from pregnancy through to the toddler years has opened a new location in Montreal's Saint-Michel neighbourhood.

Maison Bleue, which already has locations in Côte-des-Neiges and Parc-Extension, provides regular check-ups for mother and baby, family activities and referrals to psychologists or lawyers.

The opening was welcome news for local residents.

Patricia Duché told CBC News at the centre's opening that the Maison Bleue was like "a lighthouse in the storm."

Another woman, Rose Awazy, said the group's services were there for her when she needed them most.

"I arrived here and I didn't even know where to start. I was welcomed by the Maison Bleue and they helped me with everything so I could have this child," said Awazy, holding her baby. 

Helping fragile families

Co-founder Dr. Vania Jimenez says the new centre will help women and families in the Saint-Michel area who may be in crisis.

"Sometimes some of the babies of whom the pregnancy we follow are the result of rape," said Jimenez.

The organization also provides support for people mothers dealing with poverty, conjugal violence or substance abuse.

"So essentially all the situations that fragilize a family," she said.

Jimenez says it was local physicians who saw a need for this kind of service in Saint-Michel.

"You can't raise a child on your own. So it's like, we say it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village to make a Maison Bleue," she said.

Since the first house opened in 2007, the organization has helped more than 3,000 families.