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Back to his roots

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Marc Bergevin’s hockey career has taken him many places over the years, but Pointe-Saint-Charles will always be home.

On Monday afternoon, the Canadiens’ general manager made a point of giving back to the community in which he was born and now resides by teaming up with Share the Warmth as an ambassador in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

Share the Warmth – which was founded in 1989 – is a group that strives to fight hunger and poverty, while providing programs that help with youth development, education and employment training so young people can pursue their dreams and reach their goals.

The organization's food bank allows 1,300 individuals - including 400 young people - to have access to food every month. They also distribute fresh meals to 21 schools in Montreal, which ensures that 2,500 children can focus their efforts on learning alone.

“When I went back to my neighbourhood in Pointe-Saint-Charles and visited Share the Warmth, it really touched me. I saw the meals they were serving to people. It reminded me of my childhood, my experiences as a kid. I still remember it well. Kids would sometimes ask me for snacks at school because they didn’t have anything to eat. You felt sad about the situations they were in,” said Bergevin, who addressed the media at a press conference at Le Windsor in Downtown Montreal.

Accompanied by executive director Fiona Crossling and four yougnsters who benefitted from the program over the years – Fleurlie Merveille, Hanen Falah, Roberto Lopez and Ben Melgar-Segal – Bergevin expanded upon his connection to the countless array of initiatives championed by Share the Warmth in support of Montreal’s youth.

“Even today, I meet up with people I know from the area and we talk about people we knew growing up. The drop-out rate was high back then. I want to help people. This is where I grew up. My parents had an apartment on Rue Centre for 35 years. I still have cousins there. I still live there. For me, it’s really something very special. I know these are issues that affect all of Montreal, but that area is especially close to my heart,” said Bergevin, who also celebrated his four-year anniversary as GM of the Canadiens on Monday.

Following a video presentation that showcased a young Bergevin on an outdoor rink, dreaming of one day making his NHL dreams a reality, the 50-year-old father of three disclosed that it was actually filmed on the same ice that he used to skate on as a child. It essentially encouraged young people to find their passion in life and strive to meet their goals, no matter what they are.

“That was filmed at the same park where I used to play hockey outside. My mom used to take me to play there. The first game I ever played was at Pointe-Saint-Charles Arena. Everything I have today is because of where I’m from and the game of hockey, so it’s good to give back to the neighbourhood,” said Bergevin, who played nearly 1,200 games over the course of his career that included stops in eight NHL cities along the way. “I believe in providing guidance for kids, and no child should go to school hungry. Visiting Share the Warmth really hit home. It makes you humble and appreciate what you have. If we can bring kids to the right place and help contribute to their future, that makes it all worthwhile.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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