“Mamou Joanne, guess what? It’s my birthday today!”
Behind the counter, the volunteer smiled, turned around to grab a carrot muffin baked specially for the occasion and handed it to the beaming birthday boy, who was tickled pink that Mamou Joanne remembered.
It was just another morning for the grandmother/volunteer but one where she made yet another child feel important.
Mamou Joanne, aka Joanne Morin, has been volunteering with the breakfast program at Lionel-Groulx School for a year now and has been the site coordinator since the start of the school year. Giving back to the community is a long, proud tradition for Joanne and her children. (As you know, volunteering knows no age limit at the Club!) Lionel-Groulx School is actually where the whole Breakfast Club of Canada adventure began 25 years ago. And if anyone is going to celebrate this milestone anniversary, it’s certainly going to be Joanne!
When she talks about her experience as a volunteer, the joy she feels at being a part of school life and the broader community shines through. In addition to her duties at the Club, she is also involved in several other local organizations. Now that’s someone with tons of energy and spirit to burn. Quite the inspiration, our Mamou Joanne!
Before she retired, she worked as a cook, making her the perfect choice for this assignment, which means the world to her. Plus, she lives right across the street from the school, so all she has to do is take a few steps and she’s there to welcome the morning crowd. Her daughter often comes in to help because, after all, the Club is a family affair! By 9 a.m., Joanne goes back to her house for a nap and then gets lunch ready for her grandchildren and a few of their friends, whenever their parents need a helping hand. It’s like a mini-Club right in her kitchen!
Every day, Joanne has a front-row seat to see students’ joyful reactions to getting together before classes begin in the morning. They talk (a lot!) and they laugh (a lot!) as they eat. “It’s such a lovely way to get the day started,” said Joanne. “And it makes life so much easier for parents. They know their kids are getting a good meal and don’t have to rush.”
Mamou Joanne is as much a part of the Lionel-Groulx School team as any of the teaching or support staff. Because she interacts with the kids a little differently, she can sometimes catch problems nobody else can. She can tell when something’s wrong – and she can refer children directly to a staff member as necessary. Joanne is there to listen to them, reassure them, explain things to them and encourage them to look at things from another angle – as only a grandma can. Which is why they all affectionately call her “Mamou.” They can tell that Mamou Joanne is there to watch out for them.
It looks like the old adage has proved true once again: it really does take a village to raise a child. Thank you, Mamou Joanne, for being part of our village!