Toujours Ensemble open house May 3

By Tracey Arial

In honour of its 35th anniversary, Toujours Ensemble will hold its first ever Open House on Saturday, May 3 from 1-4 p.m.. The celebration honours its many programs that help students stay in school.

“There will be homework help, crafts, cooking, board games and even a bicycle repair workshop,” said executive director Rachel Renaud. “We want to show the community what goes on behind closed doors.”

Activities will take place in two buildings: the Marcelle and Jean Coutu Academic Perseverance Centre at 601 Second Avenue and the Carolyn Hayes Renaud building at 4926 Verdun.

Renaud says she hopes that the celebration will attract more volunteers who can work with the teens who seek out its help.

She really wants to expand Toujours Ensemble’s reach so that Verdun’s dropout figures will be lower than they’ve been in the past. According to the Centre local de développement de Verdun, 56.2 per cent of boys and 43.2 per cent of girls registered at Monseigneur Richard for the 2006-2007 school year dropped out of school. At Beurling Academy, the rates were 35.7 per cent for boys and 24.1 percent for girls.

Renaud is confident that things are changing, in part because more than 50 students will graduate with their help this year. The figure is a landmark in the organization’s history.

“For the first time ever, we’ll be holding our graduation at Verdun’s Borough Hall,” said Renaud. “We want everyone in Verdun to celebrate this success with us.” 

Toujours Ensemble has also just launched a pilot program to teach literacy to younger students in Grades 1-3. By creating a love for reading in younger children, perhaps the same children won’t need homework help when they become teens.

To do all this, the organization needs more donors, so Renaud has created a “$36 for 35 years” campaign that she says is already gaining momentum. Her team is also beginning to explore social media.

“Have you liked our Facebook page yet?” said Renaud. “We’re up to more than a thousand people.”
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