Although we say the Maison is for people aged 0 to 100, it is families with children under the age of 12 that make up most of our clientele. While it is inclusive and open to all, the Maison focuses on the most vulnerable families, who are directed to the multi-resource centre by teachers, school administrations or health and social services.
Sylvianne Poirier has been the Maison’s director since October 2012. When she arrived, the Maison was in crisis, and serious adjustments were needed. We were losing a major source of funding, and the Maison had only 4 employees and a few activities left. Four years later, there are 11 employees, assisted by 4 or 5 interns per year from psychoeducation, social work and special education departments and 40 active volunteers who make up the active force of this family resource located in downtown Lévis. The Maison offers numerous services, but the workers also travel to meet people at HLMs (low-cost housing), parks or other area resources such as the Ludothèque (toy library) and La Chaudronnée.
It offers psycho-motor activities and a drop-in daycare for younger children, homework help for elementary school students, presentations for parents, etc. The Maison is active 7 days a week, 8 to 12 hours a day, depending on the schedule.
The organization developed four homework help groups that meet once per week unless otherwise stated. We pick up children from two nearby schools. Children from schools that are farther away use other means of transportation. The children have a snack before getting to work. The child-helper ratio is key: almost one-on-one for groups of about 10 children. When their homework is finished, the children prepare dinner to have together at the Maison. After, they can participate in a themed activity. To develop their sense of responsibility and self-esteem, the children are assigned tasks. Each of them must also identify with a superhero with a specific power to help them showcase their strengths and identify their challenges to overcome. We try to make learning fun: we write vocabulary words on windows with markers designed for that purpose, hold reading time under the table, etc.
Themed activities are planned for holidays. Some activities are offered with seniors to promote inter-generational interaction. At Easter, the egg hunt draws a crowd of nearly 800 people, who must register and select a start time. Other games and activities are offered in the park that day for families that want to spend the day.
Occasionally, we organize “Su-pères” activities for children and their dads. Presentations for parents are offered on a monthly basis: budgeting, childhood illnesses, self-esteem, grief and early sexual development are just some of the topics addressed. Children can also take babysitting courses. Families can take advantage of coffee hours, mediation sessions and various consultations.
We recently created a membership ($2.50 per person), though it is not mandatory. The goal is to foster a sense of belonging and get families interested in the democratic life at the Maison. We included parent-users on the board of directors to gain a better understanding of users’ needs and limitations. The Maison reaches 2000 families per year.
This year, the Maison de la famille Rive-Sud is celebrating 30 years. A series of monthly clips will be posted on our Facebook page to highlight the anniversary.
There is no doubt that the Maison is well integrated into the community and will be around for a long time!