Robin Barré »



Interview by Derrick Scott
Images © Miguel Lalonde Photography

Derrick: Where are you from?
Robin: was born in Ottawa. In 2003, my husband convinced me to move to Hammond.

Derrick: Tell me about yourself.
Robin: I went to school in Gloucester. I’ve always liked children, so I got an early childhood education certificate from La Cité collégiale.Unfortunately, the work was too unstable, so I took another direction. I like to work with details and develop processes. I was fortunate to find a position as a coordinator with Communications Canada. I later took some management courses. I now work part-time at the Clarence-Rockland public library as the adult program coordinator. I love my work because I get to meet lots of people.

Derrick: I hear you are also an entrepreneur?
Robin: Yes, I run a business with my husband. We have a good partnership: he’s an electrician, and I’m a contractor. We do renovations and build houses with our great team. Thanks to them, my work is much easier than you might expect.

Derrick: Do women face barriers in the world of construction?
Robin: Personally, I haven’t run into any. I’ve been treated with great respect. Although I’m new to this field, I find that people help one another. We know each other pretty well. Experience also helps, and coordination is easy when you know the different stages.

Derrick: You are also heavily involved in the community. Can you tell us about that?
Robin : I’m a member of the Hammond Optimist Club, the Township of Clarence Minor Hockey Association and the St. Matthew Parish. I would say that most of my time goes to the Optimist Club.

Derrick: Why the Optimist Club?
Robin: Because I have children, it’s important to me. My family benefits directly from the activities offered by the Club. I want to give back. My children see me giving of my time, and they learn from that. It’s like karma: you give, and something good comes back to you, but not in the form of financial or material rewards. It’s important that my children understand that.

Derrick: Are you setting an example for them?
Robin: My daughter is President of the Junior Optimist Club. She’s learning a lot. She’s very ambitious and a real go-getter. The Club gives her the opportunity, outside of school, to learn how to speak in public and to organize activities. She works with younger people and is learning about management. It’s great to see her doing this! That’s one of the reasons why I like the club. Adults are not the only ones to pass on their knowledge to the kids: the kids learn on their own.

Derrick: Have you always done volunteer work?
Robin: In school, I always belonged to several clubs. I decided to get involved as soon as I moved to Hammond. I’ve belonged to the Optimist Club for nearly nine years.

Derrick: As a city girl, did you find living in the country a big adjustment?
Robin: My husband’s family owns a dairy farm, and we were neighbours. The noise of the neighbourhood and of the farm, and the lack of restaurants nearby were unsettling at first. In fact, the Optimist Club helped me overcome the social isolation, to build trusting relationships, and to become part of the community.

Derrick: Tell me about the Township of Clarence Minor Hockey Association.
Robin: I started out as the Secretary, and was then asked to take over as Chair. I gladly agreed because I knew that I would learn a lot. My son was proud of me, and pretty happy when he found out that I would know things before everyone else, and that I would be able to get answers to his questions. My involvement helped me build a good rapport with my boy. He’s 15, and I would say that our relationship is exceptional.

Derrick: Why the Chair?
Robin: I agreed to be the Chair because I knew that I would have a great team to work with. The team had years of experience and really knew hockey. I may have the title of Chair, but my team is outstanding. I’ve made new friends. You should never be afraid of taking on new roles, like I did, because they’re only titles. It’s up to everyone to decide on their level of commitment.

“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work toward the same goals.”

Derrick: What sorts of things do you do as the Chair?
Robin: There are meetings. The team looks after the projects. You receive the information, and in some cases have to intervene in certain situations. You don’t have to take all of the responsibility, because you’re part of a team. There are also district meetings, and you have to understand the backgrounds to the by-laws.

Derrick: What about your work with the Parish?
Robin: I serve on the pastoral committee. My role is to help organize the different celebrations. I believe that the Church is important in the community. St. Matthew Parish is involved with the school. I follow the faith, and I believe it is important to pass it on.

Derrick: What would you recommend to our readers who might be trying to choose among several volunteering options?
Robin: You have to choose something that fits your own lifestyle. For people who haven’t a lot of time, it is always easier to combine your family life and volunteering. A few hours here and there can make all the difference. Fresh blood always benefits an organization. It’s not like a lifetime contract: you give what you can for as long as you can.

Derrick: What do you see in your future?
Robin: I would like to continue volunteering. I like it and I am always learning new things. It’s an easy way to learn without having to go to university or college. I’m a hard-working person, and it keeps me busy, young and involved with my family.