• Stephanie O’Hanley

Bonhomme à lunettes comes to Vaudreuil-Dorion


Eilean Tait (left) discusses glasses with Bonhomme à lunettes optician Luc Sauvageau (right) at the CDC-Vaudreuil-Soulanges in an initiative to make prescription eyeglasses affordable to all.

Since January an optician from the service Bonhomme à lunettes has visited the Corporation de Développement Communautaire de Vaudreuil-Soulanges’ (CDC Vaudreuil-Soulanges) office on Fridays, making it easy for people to afford new glasses as well as support community groups.

Philippe Rochette, the man behind Bonhomme à lunettes, is a nomadic optician who travels from one community organization to another providing people with glasses at a lower cost. For each pair of glasses sold, $10 goes to a community organization of the customer’s choosing.

Rochette used to work alone but now a team of 10 opticians visits 35 community organizations in and around Montreal. An optometrist offers eye exams at Bonhomme à lunettes’ St. Viateur St. headquarters in Montreal and an on-demand mobile service exists for people who have trouble getting to a service point. News of the service is spread by the community organizations and by word of mouth.

Eve Bélec, a member of the CDC Vaudreuil-Soulanges’s board of directors and coordinator of the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Vaudreuil-Soulanges, said before Bonhomme à lunettes’ arrival in January local people had to travel to use the service. “Before they had to go to Valleyfield, Montreal and Châteauguay,” Bélec said. “They could benefit from a service that was closer to people in Vaudreuil.”

The goal of having Bonhomme à lunettes in Vaudreuil-Dorion isn’t to denigrate other opticians, Bélec said. “If you’ve been loyal to a business for years and you can afford it, well, then go. For my clientele the reality is before January they couldn’t get glasses.

“I work with people who are studying or who are on the job market and when our eyes aren’t working perfectly it’s very difficult to do what we need to do well,” said Bélec. “Last week I was with a young woman who was looking for glasses.” Then Bélec told her about Bonhomme à lunettes. “I have never seen such a smile on her face,” she said.

“For sure it’s not full every Friday but it’s busy,” said Luc Sauvageau, Bonhomme à lunettes’ designated optician for the CDC Vaudreuil-Soulanges, where the service is by appointment only.

“What I like at the Bonhomme à lunettes (is) you choose something that you like but you choose something that you really need and you pay within your budget,” said Sauvageau, who’s worked both for other opticians and for himself and who joined Bonhomme à lunettes last November.

People bring their eyeglass prescription and if they’re on welfare a pair of glasses with single vision lenses costs $20 more than what’s reimbursed by the Quebec government.

“For children, they don’t have to pay.”

You don’t have to be on welfare to use the service. Sauvageau said he sees working families. “When you have children who need glasses, the prescription changes very fast. When children lose their glasses, and it only costs $65 (or) $69 to replace a frame, well it’s okay."

He works out of three large wheeled suitcases - two filled with a wide array of optical frames.

After filling out paperwork and chatting Sauvageau quickly chooses a possible eyeglass frame for Eilean Tait, an IÎe Perrot resident who’s ordering two pairs of glasses.

She learned about Bonhomme à lunettes from her daughter. “I had to find out about this on my own. Fortunately I did.” Tait said it’s important to make information about the service more accessible, especially to the CLSC. “Not just accessible, but something they promote.”

As an artist whose focus is the natural world, Tait relies on her vision and senses. “My sight is tremendously important to me. Today I watched maybe 250 to 300 geese coming home. Phenomenal.”

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