A very special lady appeared briefly at the SOS Garage Sale Event on August 12th at Le Centre Pauline-Charron. Her name is Gisèle Lalonde. This exceptional person has been a personal friend, mentor and shining example of community leadership in action. Gisèle has touched my life and helped shape my beliefs in so many positive ways. She has set the same bar for others in Ottawa and beyond. If you aren’t already familiar with Gisèle’s magnificent lifelong contributions to our Capital City, a quick search of her name will take you on a great journey of learning about a true, contemporary hero.
Gisèle’s determination was a critical factor behind SOS Montfort’s successful efforts in reversing our provincial government’s decision to close the Montfort Hospital. From 1997 to 2002 she served as President, champion, and the driving force at the helm of this powerful movement of change. She is indeed the visionary we all look to and strive to emulate in our efforts to keep our unique communities vibrant and safe. Embracing her spirit and determination is a sure recipe for our success in the tough work we have ahead.
While health concerns prevent Gisèle fro physically engaging in our march forward, she made a very rare, appearance with a message for us all. I was honoured to have her whisper it in my ear during one of the most comforting ‘hugs’ that I have ever received.
”I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself without coming here today and letting everyone know that I am with you in solidarity. I am proud to see so many volunteers and contributors engaged in trying to save this community while working to provide real solutions that address the causes of homelessness. SOS Vanier is doing all of the right things. It is important to build meaningful partnerships with everyone, including the Salvation Army. I am so happy and excited to see all of this and wanted to be a contributor. Don’t stop or slow down. Bruce, keep driving ahead and you will achieve your goals. Bravo to SOS!”
The torch to save our community has been passed to us. We are holding it up high. Onward we go in solidarity with those who have strived before us. We will do this and write the next chapter in our incredible story. We will not fail.