Claude St-Jean, A Builder
Recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal, Quebec
Beginning in 2001 as a simple volunteer at the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Claude St-Jean, as he himself says, “rose through the ranks” to become president of his regional council, which oversees eight conferences.
Whether it is clothing, food, furniture, housing, bus tickets, or prescriptions, SVP wants to help as many people as possible who need last-resort assistance. “We also listen and give them encouragement; we spend time with them. Yes, we focus on the essentials, but our mandate is very broad,” said Claude St-Jean, who is above all a man of grassroots action and wishes to remain close to the people as long as his health permits.
“Today, there is so much individualism in our society; we do not even know our neighbor and his needs,” he says. “It touches me deeply and we do not realize the extent to which poverty is surprisingly right next door to us. That is why we can not give up and it takes sustained effort.”
1 – Renew and rejuvenate the team of volunteers.
The average age of volunteers in his regional council is 67 and most of them are retired. According to Claude St-Jean, we must find a solution to accommodate all generations of volunteers to rejuvenate the organization.
2 – Be a part of the modern world.
SSVP must enter the modern world, believes Claude St-Jean. “We have to dive into the world of the Internet and social media to find our place. We must dare to move forward, we have no choice.”
3 – Be able to identify the causes of poverty in the community.
With the closure of Electrolux where 1,300 people will lose their jobs, Claude St-Jean expects to be facing a new wave of poor, or people who had means but who have exhausted their financial resources due to increased cost of living or poor management. “It forces us to renew ourselves, to discuss the causes of poverty, to revise our ways.”