For the past 11 years, IBM client manager Louis-André Marceau, who recently retired, has volunteered at Patro Laval, a community center in Quebec City, Canada. Patro Laval is in the Saint-Sauveur district of Quebec City's Lower Town neighborhood. Since 1910, they have served the area’s residents, who sometimes come from lower income backgrounds and benefit from youth programs, family services, leadership training, and providing social spaces for community gatherings.
At IBM, Louis-André was responsible for the Quebecois government’s business development. He got involved with Patro Laval thanks to a friend who was the center’s general manager at that time.
At Patro Laval, Louis-André has been president of the board for four years, but during his tenure it seems there’s no limit to what role he’ll play for a good cause: he’s helped the organization fundraise, he’s distributed Christmas gift baskets, and he has even appeared as Santa Claus.
Louis-André describes many of the moments he’s spent at the center as pure joy. It’s been especially satisfying for him is the influence the center’s work has had. “Our center’s ability to impact an entire community to adopt better life habits like nutrition, playing sports, and healthy living is inspiring, especially at the kids’ level.
While the services that Patro Laval offers are easy to measure, Louis-André says that the less tangible benefits of the organization are the most compelling. “We provide kids with equal opportunities. They learn to become people living with an openness and an unconditional welcoming attitude toward other people from all backgrounds.”
Louis-André has been influenced by the teachings, too. “I have developed a high respect for newcomer families in our city and country,” he says of Patro Laval’s members, many of whom are immigrants. “No one gets to choose where they are born. Seeing people in our community who have cut links to their families, friends, culture, and country to offer a better future for their kids in a new country is an important decision.”
Louis-André says he realizes that his city’s demographics will continue to change over the years, but for him, that’s a good thing—especially if people are willing to contribute to each other and help those who need it. “When I look at our summer day camp attendees, I often refer to it as a garden. We are helping grow multiple different varieties, in respect to the different cultures. I truly believe that we are helping to grow the Quebec of tomorrow.”
The work Patro Laval achieves wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of a strong board and the local business leaders who bring their expertise to the organization, Louis-André says. He hopes that more IBMers will get involved with their communities. “We all have competencies that can help and there are many causes in need.”
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