Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, Nov. 20


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney



 

 

 



(Updated 11:30 a.m., April 20)
Rendez-vous des aînés honours current, past presidents

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa (RAFO) is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary this year and on Sunday they honoured the men who have been instrumental in the senior club’s enduring success.

Gérald Poulin is the club’s founding president and the man who had the vision and determination to give the club a permanent home on Navan Road.

The President’s Club (l to r) Gerry Poulin, Marcel Guilbeault and Lucien Brisebois. Fred Sherwin/Photo

He came up with the idea for the francophone seniors club in 2000 during a chance meeting with the club’s founding vice-president Fern Leduc, who at that time was a member of the Sarsfield Seniors Club.

“I bumped into Fern at McDonald’s one day and he said, ‘Gerry we should have a seniors club in Orléans, and if there’s anybody that can do that it’s you’.” recalled Poulin. “So we founded the club in 2001 and this year we are going to celebrate our 15th anniversary,"

During its first four years in existence, the club’s membership hovered between 60 to 120 members. It wasn’t until the club moved into it’s current home on Navan Road that the membership began to take off under the leadership of Marcel Guilbeault, who took over from Poulin in 2005.

“I had just retired in January and in February Gerry came to see me and said, ‘I need your help. We need to prepare a business plan to buy this building’, which I did and eventually we bought the building,” said Guilbeault.

“First, It was a good retirement project. Aand secondly, we needed a place for francophone seniors to get together and have activities and get involved in the community."

When Poulin first approached Guilbeault to help put a business plan together, the club had just $4,000 in the bank.
The asking price for the former school which the club now calls home was $750,000.

The seller was a Muslim organization that wanted to relocate to the west end. When they found out that Poulin wanted to use the building for a community seniors centre, they lowered the price to $615,000.

In order to raise the $260,000 downpayment they needed, Poulin came up with the clever idea to sell corporate bonds.

“I wrote down 50 names of people I thought might be interested in investing and by the time I had gotten to the 30th name on the list I had raised $378,000,” says Poulin.

The club’s current president, Lucien Brisebois, took over from Guilbeault in 2011, but the retired lawyer’s involvement with the club dates back to 2005 when was approached by Poulin to help with the negotiations for the building.

“When he first came to me I thought he was dreaming. But you need dreamers and then you need practical guys like Marcel and I who can help turn the dream into a reality,” says Brisebois.

Today, the club has over 700 members who can take part in a variety of social activities organized on a daily basis, including lunches, board games, field trips, etc. There are a number of events planned to celebrate the 15th anniversary over the coming months culminating in a gala dinner on October 16.

For more information about the Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa visit www.rafo.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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