Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No. 2

September 25, 2003


Centraide Concordia kicks off today

Montreal’s Centraide campaign starts today at 1 p.m. at McGill College and Ste. Catherine Street with the annual March of a 1,000 Umbrellas.

Why don’t you join the Centraide Concordia team as they set out from Bishop Court at 12:30 to join corporate and institutional volunteer teams from all over the city?

The Centraide Concordia effort this year is being led by co-chairs Kathleen Perry and Miriam Posner. They’ll have lots of information and special events to grab your attention during the next two months.

Today we are launching a series in CTR focusing on individual agencies that do great work as a result of the fundraising efforts of Centraide’s massive annual campaign. There are 325 recipient agencies and projects under Centraide’s fundraising umbrella. This is just one of them.

Action Centre-Ville gives seniors an active voice

by Christina Palassio

In an area of Montreal where trendy shops and transient young students and entrepreneurs are the rule, being a senior can prove challenging.

“It’s not very fashionable to be old these days,” said Daniel Léonard, general director of Faubourg Saint-Laurent’s Action Centre-Ville. “We try to help our members find a role in society.”

Action Centre-Ville is a community centre whose goal is to provide a warm, welcoming environment for people over 50 living in the Faubourg Saint-Laurent area. The neighbourhood is delineated by Sherbooke St. and the St. Lawrence River on the north and south ends and St. Hubert and Bleury Sts to the east and west.

Jacqueline Trudel is the vice-president of the board of directors, which is made up exclusively of centre members. Four permanent staff and a slew of volunteers keep things running smoothly on other fronts. A former social worker and long-time member, she said, “It’s important for people to feel comfortable with their environment.

Leonard agreed. “Members can play the roles they want. They can run activities and become active in the centre’s administration procedures, but they need support to be able to do this. It helps boost their self-esteem.”

Most of the centre’s 325 members are between the ages of 61 and 80. Sixty-two per cent live alone, many in subsidized housing.

To address the inactivity and isolation of seniors in the area, the centre organizes inexpensive cultural, social and physical activities, including a variety of art and language classes, aqua-fitness instruction, discussion groups and even an annual tax clinic.

Despite a stream of volunteers and a handful of members running classes for free, general operation costs at the centre still run high. Centraide and the Régie Régionale de Montréal Centre fund 45 per cent of the organization’s $260,000 budget. The former makes an annual contribution of $92,000.

“Centraide helps us fund our basic operations, pay employee salaries and buy food. Their contribution is extremely important,” Léonard said. The organization would be more efficient if employees didn’t have to always worry about financial viability, and the money Centraide raises on their behalf brings them closer to that goal.

The centre has a meals-on-wheels service and also provides low-cost daily lunches for members and non-members. Last year they served 10,160 meals, providing not only nutrition, but a place for members to socialize.

Alfred Laflamme was one of Action Centre-Ville’s first members. He teaches line dancing to members, takes a hand in publishing the organization’s quarterly journal and moonlights as a receptionist once a week. The 79-year-old retired teacher thinks it’s obvious why the centre plays such an integral part of many members’ lives.

“It’s important to create an area where people feel they belong,” he said, as he balanced phone calls, membership requests and healthy dose of socializing.