Aylmer’s Accès Volunteer Action Centre Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Accès Volunteer Action Centre is celebrating 40 years of service to the Aylmer community. In this first of three articles, we will look at the beginnings of the Centre.
In 1982, the Reverend Rae Fletcher of Christ Church initiated a citizen discussion on the social services offered in Aylmer.
Many people participated in the resulting forum. In November 1983, the Centre d'action bénévole / CAB Accès was created. Its mission: to help the citizens of Aylmer have access to information on existing social services. Since its beginnings, however, the focus changed from helping people access information to providing services directly.
From its earliest beginnings, the history of the Centre has been rooted in Aylmer's rich community life. The City of Aylmer offered a first space on the 2nd floor of the Aydelu Arena as an office for the new organization. This short cohabitation was very helpful to the young organization.
Then, the director of the CLSC Grande-Rivière, Pierre Paquin, offered free office space that was more suited to the needs of the Centre. A dedicated volunteer secretary, Patricia Pomainville, quickly took over the management of the premises. These outpourings of solidarity have marked the history of the Centre Accès.
During the 1980s, the Centre underwent a major development. The provincial government's recognition of the need to serve the aging clientele allowed Access to prove the importance of its presence in Aylmer and to be provided with recurring funding. Most of the services which were developed during that time continue to exist: day activities, transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, senior-friendly visits and tax clinics.
The 1990s – Significant growth and diversification
Under the leadership of Mr. Pierre Gendron, the CAB Access continued to meet the needs of the community in spite of significant budget cuts to the health network and a shift towards aging at home which increased the demand for services. The Centre continued to meet these challenges through collaboration between community organizations.
The collaboration with the Aylmer Lions Club culminated in 1995 with the donation of a van that could be used to transport Access members to appointments. In 1997-98, the Accès Volunteer Action Centre set up called Remue-ménage de l'Outaouais a regional social economy enterprise which provides house-cleaning help to seniors to this day.
Entering the new millennium
The new millennium was a time of consolidation of services. In 2007, the Centre purchased the house where it is still located, at 67 rue Principale. The history of the Access Volunteer Action Centre is one of a strong community and committed volunteers serving their neighbours.
Photo caption: On November 4, the association celebrated 40 years of service to the citizens of Aylmer. Volunteers, employees and staff enjoyed dinner and music at the Centre Ernest-Lattion in Aylmer. General Manager Julie Cool (left) and President Françoise Gagnon (right) hosted the event.
Photo credit: Pat Cassidy