By Solange Savard, Operations and Communications Manager at the St-Joseph Meals on Wheels
In September 1981, after having delivered meals prepared by the local health centre for three years, Ms. Béatrice Valade and Mr. Georges-Émile Boudreault, a priest at the St-Laurent parish, founded the St-Joseph Meals on Wheels.
After obtaining a government grant and the help of several volunteers, Ms. Valade oversaw the transformation of a small room next to the rectory into a community kitchen. Ever since then, it has always been used to prepare hot meals served to clients twice a week.
Our dear Béatrice couldn’t do it all on her own; since the beginning, she has called upon devoted parishioners and has enlisted the help of family and friends. She was just as convincing as she was committed. Originally from Pointe St-Charles, she attended the convent there and got to know Lucette Trudeau; they became friends... for life. They got married five days apart and followed their husbands to St-Laurent. They raised their children side by side, and their daughters attended the same grade school. When Béatrice started the Meals on Wheels service, she asked Lucette for help. Depending on what was needed at the time, they were cooks, drivers, runners and even buyers. For 10 years, Béatrice guided St-Joseph with tenacity and devotion. When she became a member of the parish council, she passed the torch to Lucette, who ran it for the next 15 years while continuing to be directly involved with the clients. Mom left the Meals on Wheels in June 2004 after devoting 25 years to the service.
As the years went by, many men and women volunteered at St-Joseph. Many of them remained faithful for years. And gradually it was time for change. In the winter of 2007, I found out that the buyer was alone in handling her heavy workload, which is at the heart of this community kitchen. I accepted to join her as a buyer and I started to cook.
In the spring of 2014, several volunteers took a well-deserved retirement. The Meals on Wheels service was at risk and we needed to recruit. So, just as Béatrice did 30 years earlier, the remaining volunteers asked their family and friends. I convinced my sister to join us. After meeting with Béatrice, her daughter Jocelyne, who had volunteered with her mother before, decided to come back to Meals on Wheels.
And that is how Lucette's two daughters and one of Béatrice's found themselves at the St-Joseph Meals on Wheels surrounded by old and new volunteers alike who form the extraordinary team currently serving St-Laurent.
Legend: Lucette's two daughters, Solange and Johanne, with Béatrice during a meeting on November 12, 2014.