So Al, thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions in this interview. The people want to know you, I mean really know you, you know? They want to know what makes you tick, what makes your heart stir. I thought long and hard before creating these questions that I honestly believe will give us all some serious insight into who you really are. Think of this interview as the window into your soul as you answer these questions:

Jennifer: How long have you worked for Prev, and what was it that brought you here?

Al: I was adopted by the Prev family circa 2007. Prior to my entry date, I was working for Comité Jeunesse NDG as a youth animator at the Saint-Raymond’s center. I had the opportunity to revamp their leadership and social skills-like program for the youth in the area. By then, I was networking with community organizations to offer workshops or create safe spaces for dialogue about their (youth) issues, challenges, and community issues that they themselves valued. So based on their interests and needs, I landed on some guy called “Joe-from-Tandem”. And among many extraordinary guest speakers, our very own Joseph Lambert, Tandem’s Urban Safety and Crime Prevention Counselor, was the best guest speaker I had encountered in years!! Everything about his facilitating skills and the values behind the positive messages he delivered was one-of-a-kind, and just as the youth felt; I saw an unmatched authenticity. Here’s a little Alainism for you: I got bit by the Joe-from-Tandem bug I guess you could say.

And right there and then (I remember this like it was just yesterday), I said to myself, ”THAT’S IT! That’s exactly what I want to be doing in life!” The ”raison d’être” of why I left the restaurant business after almost 20 years! I wanted to do what Joe does… and voilà, here I am today.

Jennifer: Speaking of Prev, what is your job exactly?

Al: Director of Programs. It entails a few meetings, a little paper work, some staff supervision, funding applications, some networking, and so on.

Jennifer: What is one of your favourite things about your job?

Al: Feeling useful. Euuh I mean the problem-solving opportunities that occur. The core values and the causes that Prevention CDN-NDG endorses are close to my heart. Getting help from colleagues and helping others I feel really shapes the world we want to live in. I admit though, it’s a real privilege and honour to be surrounded with the people I work with at Prev headquarters. And to have Terri as the boss extraordinaire that we have, truly allows for professional and personal growth, which is rare to find.

Jennifer: What is one of the most challenging things about it?

Al: The amount of funding applications and final reports crammed in such a close frequency (month-to-month) throughout the calendar year and deadlines (!), which unfortunately steals valuable time away from supporting my colleagues.

Jennifer: Speaking of work, if Prev was an episode of a TV show, what show would it be, and why?

Al: Happy Days! Who doesn’t like the Fonze and Chachi and Joanie? C’mon!

Jennifer: Speaking of your colleagues, all of the staff at Prev agree that your black hat looks AMAZING on Genevieve. So why won’t you give it to her?

Al: Did she tell you to ask me that? Who says I don’t intend on giving it to her at a later date?!? Nice going Jennski! Nice going Gberg! My daughter Olivia has a similar hat…so she and I have a thing! ”Papa! I have a chapeau, just like you Papa!” And you want me to give that hat up?

Jennifer: When you were a child, what did you think you would be if/when you grew up?

Al: That’s ”if” I grew up. Helping others in any way, shape, or form really mattered to me as a kid. And now as an older kid, and after all these years, I like helping others, it’s easy. You should try it some time! Euuh, sorry.

Jennifer: If you could start your own non-profit organization, what would your mandate be?

Al: I’d buy an electric pick up truck (low emissions), (insert Joe Pesci accent here) ”I’d hire a couple of ‘youts’, go ’round and pick up household furniture that people have donated and keep goin’ ’round and giving it to those less fortunate. You. Yeah you over there! You new to the country? You got kids? No problem, ‘forget-bout-it’, me and the two ‘youts’ over there we’ll come over fast-fast and set you up ok?

Jennifer: Please consider this next question very seriously before answering:
If your own non-profit organization had an equal opportunity program, which 3 characters from Star Wars would you hire, for what positions and why?

Al: A tricked question, this is. IT’S A TRAP!! Let me start by saying that behind every good man, there’s a great woman. My wife Mel, my mom, my sister, my grandmas, my aunts, my mother-in-law, and especially my daughters, all have, in there own beautiful way, help shape the older kid that I am. Where there is wisdom and at the head of the brains for my non-profit empire, would be Lea hands down!! She’s sharp, defiant, and has great taste in wardrobe. Secondly, I’d go with Rey, hands down! She’s the ace every non-profit empire needs -the go-getter. She has such an incredible character, resilient, empathic, stubborn, ingenious, and funny. Lastly, I’d go with Chewbacca for moral support! I mean c’mon, who doesn’t want to hug that ”big walking carpet” of a Wookie after a long day of getting blasted by Imperial star destroyers and those annoying Buzz droids, Geez!

Jennifer: Nice line-up!! Speaking of serious questions…
If Kim Catrall and Renee Russo both told you they were starving, and you only had one white donut left….

Al: I’d have them share it and run out and get some more!

Jennifer: Speaking of donuts, have you ever been on a boat?

Al: Little boat. That’s it. I don’t like boats. See what happened to the folks in the Titanic? Ever seen Jaws. Nooo thanks!

Jennifer: If you were on a boat with Bono (of the band U2) and he and his cats fell off the boat, and none of them could swim, and they were all clearly about to drown, and he was screaming “Please! Save my precious cats! They’re the world to me! They’re my life! They’re my heart and soul! Please!!! Save my cats!!!!!” who would you save? Bono….. or his cats?

Al: First of all, that’s a cheap question Jennski! Are you aware that because of the volume of our Nexus readership, I’ll have to censor what I would really like to answer, eh? Eh? Answer me! Look here sister. It’s bad enough that I held back with the Kim Catrall and Renee Russo answer but now this? I…I…I’m (taking a deep breath) not… I don’t like cats. There I said it. Let me think this through here, one sec. Well…I don’t know maybe… Kim C.A.T.trall, I love the Stray Cats, Chewbacca and cats both have non hypoallergenic fur, there are probably a few people who named their cat ”Renee” and others named ”Russo”…I guess I would never forgive myself for going after the cats drowning in the water but I’d sure as hell be the first to toss a life jacket at Bono! Is the water cold? How deep is it? Can’t they swim or jump out of the water and into the boat? Hey, I’ve seen videos on Facebook of how extremely agile cats really are ok? Put a fully decorated 12 feet-high Christmas tree with lights and all and those little furry things will take that whole timber down and destroy the place in seconds, but they can’t hop a little hop into a boat? And the cats lived happily ever after.

Jennifer: So who will be the lead singer now for U2?

Al: I really want to pretend for you that I care, I do, but honestly… I like Bono about as much as you like cats…

“Be quiet. Be still. Listen and open your heart” – Al’s Mama