• Carmen Marie Fabio

Community rallies to help Île Perrot man


Richard Lemieux (left) meets the person he credits as his ‘saviour’ Jessie Charlebois (right) who has coordinated volunteer drivers to bring him from his Île Perrot home to dialysis treatments at the Lakeshore General Hospital three times a week following the cancellation of his adapted transport services.

Following a proverbial comedy of bureaucratic and legal errors that have left a handicapped Île Perrot resident without adapted transport to his thrice-weekly Lakeshore General Hospital dialysis treatments, the community has stepped up to help make Richard Lemieux’s life a little easier by offering transport, meals, and housecleaning services. “I saw him interviewed last week on television,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion resident Jessie Charlebois of a Global News report, “and I was taken aback that something like that could happen. I decided I wanted to help.”

Charlebois contacted Lemieux’s daughter through social media to find out when his dialysis appointments were and how she could help. Reposting his story resulted in an outpouring of offers to help and, through Charlebois’ coordination eff orts, a team of six volunteers have been assembled to chauffer Lemieux to and from his treatments. “I felt like I needed to do something, because I can.” “She deserves a medal for what she’s done,” said Lemieux of Charlebois, who stepped in to oversee the logistics of his transport. “Jessie is my boss now – she organized everything.”

Lemieux, who was born with physical disabilities and is confined to a wheelchair, said his ordeal began when he received a notice from the Quebec Government recommending he seek child support from his ex-wife to help offset the costs of raising his 16-year-old daughter who’s been in his custody since age three-and-a-half. “I was told, ‘you need to go after her (for support) because if not, we’re going to cancel your services.’ That’s how it all started.” Lemieux followed the advice and, through the services of legal aid representation, won an amount of $400 monthly. He said he was then told his income had exceeded the maximum allowable for which subsidized transportation services are provided.

“It’s not ‘income’ for me. This is child support money.” This setback was only one in a series of events, including his then undiagnosed onset of kidney failure that left him exhausted, sleeping 15 hours a day, that led to a cycle of falling further behind on his financial obligations. The government is now asking to be reimbursed $1400 for adapted transport costs they say he wasn’t eligible for. Lemieux said he was also asked to pay for the $160 in adapted transport costs he incurred in attending the court date in which he sought child-support – the very action they recommended.

Lemieux credits Charlebois, a 22-year-old John Abbott College nursing student, for being his ‘saviour’ after she set up the transportation schedule of drivers and backup drivers, and people offering their services of housecleaning, meal-preparation, and shopping excursions including Denis Robinson, Melissa Constant, Stephannie Lane and Kerry MacCoubrey.

“I felt terrible about this,” said Pincourt resident Liz Davis. “I think everyone needs help when they need it. He obviously needs help and he’s not getting it from the government.” Davis has offered her housecleaning services free of charge weekly and has also volunteered to pick Lemieux up from his Friday night dialysis treatment.

“I can’t give money,” said Davis, “but I can offer my services in another way. If going in to clean his house is one less stress for him, then by all means, I’m happy to do it.” Lemieux said he’s gotten responses on his plight from clear across Canada and as far away as Seattle.

A fundraising campaign has been started to help Lemieux find a better housing arrangement with more suitable wheelchair access as well as covering medical expenses and better transportation to and from the hospital six times a week. For more information, consult http://www.youcaring.com/medicalfundraiser/ richard-lemieux-fightslife- threatening-disease-/320777

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