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The Lighthouse, Children and Families receives the 2015 Citizenship Award

22 June 2015

We are extremely proud to announce that the Lighthouse, Children and Families received the 2015 Citizenship Award from the National Order of Merit Canadian Members Association (Association canadienne des membres de l’Ordre national du mérite, our translation). This award recognizes organizations or individuals for their outstanding volunteer work in the community. Last year, 200 volunteers either worked directly with the children of the Lighthouse or contributed to different fundraising, administration, communication, cooking or gardening activities. Their help is very precious for the services that we provide.

For the occasion, Renée Lalonde, Secretary General of the National Order of Merit Canadian Members Association and Director of the Citizenship Award, gave a very inspiring speech that we would like to share with you here.
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“When a child comes into the world, the circle of the family rejoices.” Victor Hugo wrote these words in Autumn Leaves, but unfortunately they do not resonate for some 4000 families in Quebec whose child is faced with a terminal illness.

Families can however find solace at the Lighthouse, Children and Families, and Maison André-Gratton, who provide supportive care to parents and terminally sick children.

The organization’s philosophy and principles reflect our society’s fundamental values; it provides discreet, caring, and respectful support to families. Although caregivers cannot cure their children, they can at least relieve them from this great burden.

With help from highly skilled professionals and volunteers, the Lighthouse widely opens its door and heart to children and families, who can count on safe and supportive care in an environment that is designed to facilitate access and promote wellbeing.

As soon as I walked in, I was struck by the amount of equipment available, the comfort of the rooms, and special attention given to all of the precious visitors. I felt right at home.

The Lighthouse went to great lengths to customize each room, and create an environment that is adapted to its young patients’ motor and cognitive abilities. It provides a whole range of activities, such as music and animal therapy. Most of all, the atmosphere is very positive: even if the future may not be bright for these children, they can always expect to have lots of fun here! In that respect, the Lighthouse truly honours its motto: “ Having fun until the end of life.”

15 nurses, 7 physicians, 30 employees and several volunteers provide 24/7 care all year round. Thanks to the generous support of these volunteers, the organization never exceeds 12% in administrative expenses.

Furthermore, some 300 patrons and sponsors, having all been moved by the Lighthouse’s remarkable mission, generously donate each year. Their donations cover 60% of its operative expenses.

Thanks to their generous support, last year the Lighthouse, Children and Families provided 3,657 overnight stays to an average of 10 children by day. Because illness can also strike those living outside of Montreal, they also provide services in 8 other regions in Quebec through partnerships and agreements.

A few words on the organization’s name: the Lighthouse is soothing and comforting light that guides its young guests through the tremendous challenges of their everyday life.

I would like to thank the Lighthouse, its founder Michèle Viau-Chagnon and her partner Nicole Marcil-Gratton for their remarkable commitment to this cause. They have overcome countless obstacles with their effort and generosity!

For over 15 years, both women and Lighthouse have been relentlessly supporting children and families without ever despairing even they are often faced with incredible hardship!

Albert Camus once said: “To protest against the universe of grief, (man) must create happiness” and that is exactly what the Lighthouse does every single day.

Text by: Renée Lalonde, Secretary General of the National Order of Merit Canadian Members Association and Director of the Citizenship Award.
Translation by: Bernadette Blain, volunteer at the Lighthouse, Children and Families