BookCover_Smartbites_Front

The cookbook is available via Amazon.

Vince and Maria Guzzo are the epitome of Montreal’s super couple. A giant in the movie theatre business via his Cinémas Guzzo chain, I have always said that Vince should have his own talk show. He is beyond personable and has a great sense of humour. This husband and wife team also give so much back to the community.

This is Mental Health Awareness Week  and the Guzzos have been very busy. Maria, who serves as vice-president of philanthropic and community affairs for the business, launched her new healthy snacks cookbook made for parents and their kids with co-author and personal trainer Renée Brault. It is called #smartbites and proceeds will be donated to the Adolescent Mental Health Department at the Jewish General Hospital as well as the Eating Disorders Program of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. The kick off took place at Ristorante Buonanotte, with LYNQ Superfood Blends, Citalfort Gym and Williams Sonoma California on board.

A no-mess cookbook, with only easy-to-bake recipes, #smartbites offers a variety of favorable smoothies, to great tasting brownies amd moist red velvet muffins in which nobody would know there were black beans and red beets in them.

The Eating Disorders Program (EDP) at the Douglas offers specialized clinical services for people 18 years and older who suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Dietician Linda Falcon noted that it has now been more than 30 years since the EDP opened its doors. Prior to this there was no such service for adults.

This Sunday, May 7 (9 am to 2 pm), Vince and Maria will be the honourees at the third annual Mindstrong event at Midtown Sanctuaire in Outremont which has grown into a movement to promote mental health awareness and treatment in the community. It raised an extraordinary $530,000 net the first year and $740,000 for year two. This is an all day fitness event promoting positive energy with an array of exercise classes powered by Midtown Sanctuaire’s top trainers. From yoga to spinning, to bootcamp to zumba, tennis and more MINDSTRONG will make participants feel like a million and help raise a million to ease the stigma and suffering of those with mental illness. Proceeds will directly support the much-needed renovation of the psychiatry inpatient unit at the JGH, as well as sustain many crucial mental health programs that help thousands of mental health patients every year. 

The Jewish General Hospital Foundation, the Auxiliary and the Department of Psychiatry serve as hosts of the event. “Few people are left untouched by mental health problems, which are the most common cause of disability worldwide,” states Dr. Karl Looper, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the JGH. “The majority of mental health issues begin in youth, which is why we have made this the focus of our efforts.”

Wearing my hat as communications and marketing specialist for the English Montreal School Board, I am also pleased to promote yet another good deed the Guzzos are doing for mental health. The Centre for Child Development and Mental Health at the JGH will present the film Hunt for Wilderpeople at the Mega-Plex Sphèretech 14, Cinémas Guzzo ( 3500 Côte-Vertu) on on Wednesday, May 17 (7 pm). This annual fundraiser is being co-hosted by Maria Guzzo. Tickets are $36 (tax deductible) and include a popcorn and drink. Cheques can be made payable to the JGH – Child Psychiatry Fund . Info: (514) 340-8222 Ext. 25638. This is day school for children jointly operated by the EMSB and the JGH.

“As parents of five children, their well-being is our priority,” emphasize Vince and Maria. “This is why we would like to help improve the lives of as many children as possible that may be affected by situations that can impair their mental-health. We would like to do this through the use of preventative measures, in hopes of reducing the negative repercussions on mental health.”

Vince and Maria are also the driving force behind the Notte in Bianco fundraising event, which has raised over $2 million initially for environmental cancer research and now for child mental health initiatives. With the support of her husband and working at the JGH with Dr. Looper, Maria is completing her Masters Sc .in Psychiatry at McGill University with a focus on expressive writing and intends to pursue a PhD in the department of Psychiatry in Mental Health Research.

The Guzzo family’s passion for child mental health initiatives offers support to all cultures within the Montreal community such as the BELZ school for girls, the Limmud Center as well the Shriner’s hospital for children the Bleu Met literacy festival – organizing fundraisers that promote destigmitization of the silent sufferers of mental illness. In addition, they have supported and continue to bring awareness to the Bell “ Let’s Talk” campaign using their cinemas to bring awareness to this destigmitzation campaign.

Maria’s involvement in child and adolescent mental health gives her the opportunity to speak at high schools as she was invited to do so at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount at the convocation for the 2016 graduating class. This is where Maria went to high school and Brault now sends her son.

The new cookbook is a beautiful piece of work. Jonathan Likoray and Daniel Leone, partners in the Citalfort  Gym in St. Léonard will be lending a hand and work with the schools to promote not only the publication – but staying fit and healthy eating.

Even Montreal Alouettes legend Anthony Calvillo, now a coach for the team, dropped by the launch to give his endorsement. He spoke about how after he and his wife successfully beat cancer in 2007 and 2010 respectively, they changed their eating habits dramatically and passed that on to their daughters. “Fr the last five years of my playing career I went dairy free, gluten free and sugar free,” he said. “That helped extend my career.”

Antonella Argento, by day a co-director of The Suburban’s MList, was there in her capacity as a spokesperson for LYNQ Superfood Blends. “Many studies have shown that good nutition can effect mental health,” she said.

Copies of #smartbites are available via Amazon.ca.

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