Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mainly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.
Without the generosity of seniors who work as hard as wage earners, the community economy would crumble. Take, for example, the bazaar of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle church in Hochelaga, which is run by a small team of retirees, the oldest of whom will soon be 95 years old.
Georgette Constantineau is the front-line soldier who has to deal with the jumble of donations of all kinds to sort, classify, fold, etc.
“My secret to staying in shape is to always keep myself busy, to always be useful, even if I’m watching TV, because then I can knit or mending or beading,” she tells me. the one whose birthday it will be on April 19.
This native of Saint-Donat, who moved to Montreal in 1952, raised ten children, who gave her 21 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, for the moment… because the sequel promises to be exponential.
In addition to this venerable human harvest (of 67 people), Georgette can pride herself on having devoted most of her work, since her children were grown, to working for families in need in her town.
With her volunteer colleagues from the Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle bazaar, the matriarch allows hundreds of households to find thousands of useful goods at a low price that would otherwise end up in the garbage or in much less affordable thrift stores.
Accompanied by her daughter Ginette and three volunteer acolytes, Georgette Constantineau works at the bazaar three days a week… in theory!
In practice, she and her daughter work “compulsory overtime” to get everything done.
Out of modesty or because they are not the type to count their generosity, they remain vague about their actual working hours.
Certainly, it’s full time.
“I also take care of the plants upstairs in the church,” adds Ms.me Constantineau.
In front of me, Georgette opens a bag full of stuffed animals and checks their quality.
The toy section is her and her daughter who run it. They also take care of the bedding section.
Some of what is “given away” at the bazaar is not suitable for resale.
“If it’s messy, stained and torn, we don’t resell it…and about half of the donations are good for nothing. »
“When I got here, there were hundreds of bags of moldy old shoes that we had to go through and it was heartbreaking. »
The bazaar is large and impeccably maintained.
With its ceiling of at least 15 feet and its generous windows, the basement is a pleasant and bright place.
Clothing, bedding, kitchen instruments, toys, electronic equipment, etc.
Surprisingly, M.me Constantineau volunteers standing up.
“I am not able to work sitting down! It’s a habit that gardening gave me,” she explains.
I do not drag out my interview.
New bags of donations need to be sorted and, through my fault, Georgette is falling behind!