By Kevin Woodhouse
Projet Communautaire de Pierrefonds (PCP) has been helping new Canadians adapt to their adopted country since 1994 and recently welcomed Deborah St. Martin as the director general following almost years of diligent service by former head Shirley Miller who had to step aside due to illness.
For many new arrivals in Quebec, French and English are third languages and quickly learning about winter, school and health care options can be daunting. At PCP, help is available for immigrant children who need a leg up in academics.
“Our after school homework plan is very popular for our elementary aged children that come by because often, their parents cannot fully understand French or English yet,” St. Martin told The Suburban. “We also offer to visit schools on behalf of the parents if need be.”
The children arrive after school and until 5 p.m., work on their lessons. Up until their parents come to collect them, usually at around 5:45 p.m., the children then engage in social activities.
During the summer months, a day camp is offered and each week, the 80 or so registered kids get to enjoy an excursion such as visiting a zoo or water park when it really gets hot in July. For some of the children, money is a challenge so water, juices and lunches are provided for those that need.
St. Martin knows the program is working as over the years, students who were given help have returned in their high school and CEGEP years to give back by tutoring themselves.
John Abbott College professor Barry Reynolds has been teaching community and communications for the last seven years where part of the student’s component is to give back to a non-profit agency in the West Island and the PCP have been recipients of Reynolds’ students.
“Students can be self-centered at CEGEP as it is the time of their live but they are not selfish,” Reynolds told The Suburban. “Often when I am visiting the students at either PCP or Bayview, I will run into ex students who have decided to still volunteer years after they graduated.”
Reynolds has also noted an improvement in the students’ writing after they have been out in the community volunteering since “they are more bonded to the experience because it was personal for them.”
The myth that teenagers only care for themselves has been successfully dispelled since Reynolds said that the course has a waiting list it is so popular.
To find out more about Projet Communautaire de Pierrefonds, visit them online at www.pcpwi.org or by calling  684-5995.
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