LaSalle event recognizes volunteers

By Tracey Arial

Normally, volunteer events at boroughs are pleasant afternoon receptions designed to recognize active volunteers with certificates and perhaps a buffet lunch. Not in LaSalle.

LaSalle’s Manon Barbe fetes her volunteers in style.

Last Saturday night, more than 500 people lined up for half an hour to get into the Desjardins Theatre for une soirée électrisante sur la route de Memphis. One of each pair held a folded old-style record—an invitation to the 2014 Soirée de Bénévoles—in their hands. Pillars of light beamed next to and around the guests. Security agents wearing all-black blocked stairwells and doors.

“You are the heart and soul of the borough,” said Barbe, when she welcomed the audience. “Our borough relies on contributions from volunteers like you.”

Mayor Manon Barbe, MPP Robert Poëti, city Councillors Richard Deschamps and Monique Vallée, borough Councillors Nancy Blanchet, Laura Palestini, Serge Declos and Josée Troilo, and MP Helene LeBlanc stood patiently in a receiving line greeting every person who arrived. They greeted each person with a handshake or kiss.

Each guest then enjoyed a glass of red or white wine in the foyer, before entering the theatre for a concert by Martin Fontaine and the Groovy Good Times. The star of Elvis Story was accompanied by his four-man band. Together, the group put on an extraordinary performance of ‘50s and ‘60s favourites that had most people standing next to their seats dancing to among other hits, Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes and Who let the dogs out?

Reporter’s notes

1. Information requested from the borough of LaSalle

How many people were invited and from which organizations did they come?
How many attended?
How many borough staff attended?
What is the budget for the event and from which specific line item does it come?
What were the attendance figures and budgets for the same event in 2013 and 2012?

I’ll update readers with those answers when they arrive.

2. Why I was there

I attended the event with Joseph Pugliese.

When Legion 212 president Fred Jennings couldn’t go to the event, he decided to send Joseph Pugliese in his stead. He also asked Pugliese to deliver special golden pins for poppies. Jennings, a World War II veteran, hopes that the pin will inspire the politicians to work diligently to support local veterans.

Pugliese has been asking LaSalle borough politicians questions about who attends their VIP events and what such events cost, so Jennings thought he might like to see one such event firsthand. Pugliese invited a Suburban reporter as a second witness. Both of us had to provide our names, addresses and phone numbers to the borough a week prior to the event.

Pugliese picked up the invitation from the Legion to show at the door, but he didn’t need it. After coats were taken at the coat check, an employee took guest names.

After the performance, everyone went downstairs to enjoy a buffet of sandwiches, deli meats, croissants, cupcakes, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, peppers etc. with tea, coffee, wine or beer, (Ironically given an earlier story, I have an allergy to gluten, so I stuck to chips and wine.)

A deejay was playing for anyone who chose to dance, but I left just after 10 p.m. before dancing got underway.
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