Boréa: the immeasurable value of volunteering
Every year, on December 5th, the entire world celebrates International Volunteer Day. On this occasion, Le Groupe Maurice wanted to highlight the dedicated involvement of its residences, including Boréa, which is among the largest communities of volunteers within the entire organization. This achievement is the result of extraordinary work led by Jonathan Goulet, Recreation Manager at Boréa. Alongside Myriam Loranger, the residence’s general manager, Jonathan has agreed to share his vision of volunteering and how he endeavors to radiate its impact throughout the community.
Hello to both of you! To begin, could you provide us with the number of residents volunteering at Boréa?
Jonathan: At the moment, we have 100 volunteers at Boréa. This count includes only individuals with a specific mandate, directly or indirectly linked to community life, assigned by the residence.
How do you approach residents to encourage them to become volunteers?
Myriam: It happens in a rather organic way. Each person has a unique talent that they can bring to the community. Jonathan takes the time to meet with the 418 residents of Boréa, gauging their interest and comfort in volunteering. Getting to know them well is a good starting point, in my opinion.
Jonathan: When I notice a resident’s predisposition, whether related to their former profession or passions, I suggest a volunteer assignment. This can be beneficial for some individuals, especially in terms of socialization and feeling even more valuable. Generally, I try to align interests with our daily operations and the values of Le Groupe Maurice. Volunteerism requires strategic planning, and I make sure everything fits together seamlessly.
Can you give us some examples of volunteer involvement within the residence?
Jonathan: Several of our volunteers work in the care unit of the residence, aiming to build connections between those residents and seniors on the independent side. This involves simple acts: bringing a resident to an activity, helping with walking, accompanying them, engaging in conversation and so forth.
We also have several committees, such as the one in charge of residence birthday decorations. It’s fantastic to entrust such tasks to people with this talent! We also have volunteers who knock on residents’ doors on their birthdays to wish them well and check in on them.
A few residents have worked as servers or in the restaurant industry in the past. During cocktail events or Christmas Markets, they help the food team by sharing their expertise. At Boréa, residents have diverse interests: we have an official Santa Claus and even someone who gets everyone together during hockey nights. The atmosphere is genuinely lively, thanks to them!
Do you get involved in causes outside the residence?
Myriam: Yes, absolutely! We are deeply committed to the “Habillons un enfant” cause. We’re present on-site to help families and children with clothing; we also organize fundraising efforts. Last year, the collective donations enabled us to clothe 350 children in just two days! This year, our goal is to raise a total of $12,000.
We also participate in La Guignolée in the city of Blainville, where we are one of the main contributors. We collect non-perishable goods and bring them to Carrefour Alimenter L’Espoir. This mission is very popular among the residents of Boréa, and every year, we fill entire rooms with food!
Lastly, there’s the Christmas initiative organized by The Luc Maurice Foundation. In addition to preparing meals for underprivileged families, we take the mission a step further by serving hot meals in the basement of our parish church. By doing so, we have direct contact with the most underprivileged, which allows us to weave a beautiful social fabric.
In your opinion, what motivates residents to engage in volunteering?
Myriam: We’ve received accounts from resident volunteers who tell us that they still have experiences to live and contributions to make. They share that they didn’t expect volunteering to rejuvenate them to this extent. Many feel a renewed sense of purpose, become more involved and form friendships. Few people realize that by moving into a residential complex, they’ll have the opportunity to thrive in this way. Beyond benefiting from the residence’s services, they have the chance to give back to the community and become an integral part of it.
What are your goals regarding volunteering?
Jonathan: We need to break the isolation and bring collective values back to society. My ultimate goal is that through leisure and volunteering, the threads of the community fabric strengthen and become a model that can be replicated on a larger scale; initially in other residential complexes, but it would also be incredible to see municipalities, associations and even businesses of all kinds follow suit.
This is also why volunteering is so important: it fosters the social infrastructure of a group and allows volunteers to contribute to a better world. It transcends leisure to become the cornerstone of operations, in my opinion.
How do you acknowledge the commitment of volunteers?
Jonathan: We hold roughly two “recognition events” per year. This could be in the form of a cocktail gathering, a wine and cheese evening or even a gala. Recognition is a cornerstone of volunteer management. A quote from the Leisure Research Laboratory also comes to mind: “Volunteering is not cheap labour. It is a community of ambassadors who give a face to a shared ideal.”
It’s important for us to emphasize the contribution of our resident volunteers because they give their best for a mission or cause that is special to them. Beyond these occasions, I think the most meaningful recognition is found in our everyday acts: a hand on the shoulder, a warm smile or simply thanking the person for their involvement and expressing that it’s a pleasure to work with them.
Thank you so much, Myriam and Jonathan, for these wonderful initiatives, and to all the volunteer residents of Le Groupe Maurice for your compassionate commitment. You are truly inspiring!