Martin C. Barry
To celebrate Centre du Sablon’s 25th anniversary, members of the Chomedey community were invited to the centre on Sunday Sept. 16 to take part in a Family Fun Day that included a range of activities and a picnic lunch.
Those who’ve lived in Chomedey longer than a quarter-century may remember a time before Centre du Sablon, when the building and its facilities were operated as the Chomedey branch of the Montreal region’s YM-YWHA organization.
A new beginning in 1993
In the early 1990s when YM-YWHA officials were increasingly finding that keeping their Chomedey centre open was no longer sustainable, a grassroots effort began in Chomedey, with assistance from the City of Laval, to take over the centre with a new mandate to serve a wider spectrum of the population.
“We’re here to stay and we invite families to come in,” said Angelo Faraoni, general manager of the centre, who was hosting the Family Fun day along with Liisa Shafer, Centre du Sablon’s director operations and human resources.
Activities for all
On the grounds behind the centre, staff and volunteers helped conduct demonstrations of yoga as well as exercise “boot camps.” There was also a bake sale, with proceeds going towards reinvesting in the centre’s activities, and there was face-painting for the kids and inflatable games. Strolling magician Blair Marshall was also there to demonstrate some of his powers of illusion.
“After 25 years, Centre du Sablon is, of course, a very important presence in the Chomedey community,” said Chomedey Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette who came during the afternoon to enjoy some of the festivities.
Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis sat on the first board of directors that was set up to oversee Centre du Sablon when the centre first came into being. “I am very happy to see how it has evolved over the last 25 years and where we have taken it,” she said.
Thanks expressed to board
“And I would like to congratulate the board of directors,” she continued, “as well as Angela, for the tremendous work they do to keep the centre going and to have activities for the community at large – the English community most.
“The focus is on the English community. It’s open to everybody, but we need an English centre, and this is the focus in Chomedey. We continue building and growing the centre and taking it towards newer paths in the future.”
Du Sablon has lots to offer
According to Shafer, the centre meets the needs of a wide range of residents from Chomedey. “It brings sports and leisure activities to people who might not necessarily be able to afford it,” she said.
“And we offer a vast variety of activities for all ages and all ethnicities. We have Arabic classes, English classes, French classes. We have all sorts of sporting classes, and of course our aquatics. Almost every one of our aquatics classes is full. And we have many special needs classes. There is something here for everyone.”