Recognizing those who help the community
By Nick Zacharias
PHOTO BY SUSAN BEDNARSKI
Volunteer Leonard Monaco is all smiles under his mask as he stops for a photo with (L-R) Auxilliary Nurse Mélissa Desgagné, Personal Care Attendant Françoise MacQuarez and Nurse Charlène Poulin at the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence in Hudson.
Caisse Desjardins de Vaudreuil-Soulanges recognizes the importance of volunteerism in our community and they are dedicated to shining a light on the hard work that volunteers do to make our community a better place every day.
One such volunteer is Leonard Monaco, who’s been a (literal) driving force with the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence (VSPCR) in Hudson for the past five years.
“Len is one of those unsung heroes, especially through COVID,” said Susan Bednarski, Director of Operations and Volunteer Resources at the VSPCR. “He drives a shuttle van for us and he takes all our patients’ samples and tests and drives them to the CLSC or Valleyfield Hospital at the drop of a dime. He lives close by, and whenever we need him he’s always there right away.”
So busy is he with driving for the residence, it’s hard to even pin him down for an inter-view.
“I have two shuttles now and people waiting,” said Monaco over the phone. “You don’t want to refuse them.”
Once he’d taken care of business he had more time to talk about why volunteering is so important.
“I think we need to see more volunteering. It’s not an easy task they have. The patients know what’s happening, it’s when the family comes,” he said, describing how hard they work at the palliative care residence to make things as tranquil and comfortable as possible for everyone.
“I just want to do what I can; I don’t think I have the right not to do it.”
PHOTO BY SUSAN BEDNARSKI
Our volunteer of the month - unmasked
Monaco is always ready to help, and he takes on the task with a smile. “I joke with my wife that the ladies working at the residence are all my mistresses, and whenever they ask, I’m there.”
At heart his actions are all about helping others but even on that front he has perspective. “Us retired guys are sitting around anyway, and you feel good about yourself when you can help someone, it makes you happy. So really I’m just a selfish guy,” he joked.
Before he retired, he travelled to many less fortunate parts of the world and spent three years in the 1990s setting up a Canadian medical clinic in Moscow after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
“It was in a place and time when they wouldn’t send an ambulance pickup for any-one over 65. We’re so fortunate here and you recognize that when you see other places, when you see what happens to people left aside in a society.”
Monaco doesn’t seem to have it in him to stop helping anytime soon. “I like the simplicity of it, and there’s a social aspect too, I’m friends with the staff at the residence and the hospital.”
He’s always willing to lend a hand, even to the point of making a detour after one of his runs to give a lift home to an older woman he saw struggling along the road when she’d taken on a hillier walk than she could handle.
“You see someone in need and you help,” said Monaco. “In the end, it really is the little things that make the difference.”