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Helpers: Legion volunteer Adrienne Lemieux’s pitch-in spirit started in childhood

‘Volunteerism offers a tremendous opportunity to participate in group endeavors and enjoy social interaction. You feel a sense of pride when you contribute and, perhaps in some way, help others fulfill their potential’
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Adrienne Lemieux has been volunteering at Legion Branch 76 for 15 years, but her volunteer spirit began in childhood.

Adrienne Lemieux knows a thing or two about volunteering. 

She has been volunteering with the Royal Canadian Legion Dr. Fred Starr Branch 76 for 15 years and has held different chair appointments as a member of the executive. 

Prior to volunteering, she visited the Legion and became familiar with its purpose and mission. To serve veterans and their families, and to support senior activities in the community, involves the dedicated efforts of volunteers like Lemieux.

Although they have not restarted their Tuesday dances or big band swing Thursdays due to the pandemic, Lemieux said the Legion remains a “fun place, where people come to meet a few friends, socialize, laugh and have fun with colleagues.”

During her years with Branch 76, Lemieux has helped in a variety of ways. She goes above and beyond, doing what needs to be done, without being asked. She has catered many events, shovels snow in the winter, and cuts the grass in the summer. She paints and cleans, and when COVID hit, she redoubled her efforts to keep the facility clean and safe. 

She also made significant improvements to the bar lounge. 

For her contributions above and beyond, Lemieux was presented the Legionnaire of the Year award in 2016, a recognition awarded by the Honours and Awards Committee.

She has chaired many committees, including lottery, rentals and catering, financial review, and is currently serving as treasurer of the branch and treasurer of the Poppy Fund.  

“The Poppy Fund annual initiative is undertaken by Legions across the country, to highlight remembrance of our fallen soldiers and active veterans who keep our country safe. The poppies are handed out for free, so people can show their pride of soldiers and acknowledge those who have served. The Legions appreciate contributions, where funds go to supporting veterans and their families, as well as veteran initiatives and support groups in the community.”

Lemieux was a Sudbury Catholic District School Board payroll administrator, and when she retired, had more free time to help with whatever needed to be done around the Legion. She started volunteering at a young age, when she realized the importance of helping with efforts that benefit the community.

“Volunteering was instilled in me by my mother and her values have been passed on. Where you can help, you do, whenever possible.”

Lemieux has volunteered in a variety of capacities over her lifetime, giving her time and support to initiatives she enjoys and in which she believes.  

“I volunteered in the curling community, and in long-term care. I was exposed to the need to care for people when my mother needed care. I was chair of the Family Council at Extendicare for a number of years. I helped with a variety of endeavours. Volunteering is ingrained in me.” 

Although volunteering benefits the community, Lemieux acknowledges the personal benefits, as well.

“Volunteering brings a real sense of self worth. It makes me feel good to work in collaboration with others, achieving results or finding solutions.”

Lemieux sees the pandemic as a reminder that helping out is vital to continue taking care of business without always having staff.  

“When COVID hit, we closed the branch and laid off staff. The doors were closed and we weren’t sure when they’d reopen. Despite COVID, there’s still a need to take care of business, for the sake of people in need of assistance, which is the case now, more so than before. Having an office admin background, I’ve been helping with bookkeeping and the day-to-day tasks.” 

Volunteering about 20 hours per week, Lemieux has also applied for grants to help fund the branch’s scaled-back operations.  

“I came to shovel snow, clean and do minor repairs, as it helped me maintain my mental health during these trying times. Branch 76 has one of the most premiere views in our community. We want to keep it open and welcoming, so I help with general cleaning and upkeep.”

Those interested in volunteering with the Legion may send a letter to the branch, identifying themselves and the skills they possess, to outline how they’d like to contribute.  

“Some ask to help with catering, offer to peel potatoes, or wash dishes. There are all kinds of little jobs and there’s always something to do. With COVID, there’s been a need for a lot more sanitizing and cleaning. Every bit helps.”

Adrienne Lemieux’s Words of Volunteer Wisdom

“When you have skills, it’s important to share your knowledge and expertise, to pass it on to others. Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. My mother and I spent many hours cooking and baking. In 2015, the person who did catering left and I was asked to take it on. I’m no chef, but am a pretty good cook, so I thought I’d give it a try and I did the majority of the catering for four years and people enjoyed the food! In my mind, I’m still 35, even though my body reminds me I’m not. Every day, I wake up and set out to accomplish something. Volunteerism offers a tremendous opportunity to participate in group endeavours and enjoy social interaction. You feel a sense of pride when you contribute and, perhaps in some way, help others fulfill their potential.”

Erin Medakovic is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.