Corriveaus Are Role Models for Community Service
Jun 30, 2016 06:00AM ● Published by Marjorie Turner Hollman
Pierrette Corriveau got the ball rolling on obtaining this sharps disposal container for the Bellingham senior center
Many of us older residents can recall the name Corriveau—it was the name at the bottom of our tax bills. J. Eugene Corriveau (Gene to his many friends) has been gone six years already, but members of his family are still doing what they can to serve the community, just as Gene did for so many years.
Gene was a veteran and served in the Army from 1951 to 1953. Recently his son, Jean Paul Corriveau, wanted to do something for the community in memory of his father. Gene’s widow Pierrette (“Pete”) explained, “Jean Paul paid for the entire event, a dinner for veterans at the senior center, on Armed Forces Day, May 21. We had over one hundred guests at the dinner, both veterans and their families.”
Senior Center Director Laura DeMattia, along with Pete, took care of the details. “The event raised over $400 for the organization ‘Veterans, Inc.,’” Pete noted. “This was a wonderful event, and everyone [including all 7 of Jean and Pete’s children] pitched in to help out. Everyone was so happy.”
Clearly the couple, fondly remembered as “Pete and Gene,” instilled in their family the desire to give back to the community.
While the planning was going on for the Armed Forces dinner, Pete was also working on another project. She had visited her sister in Ashland and asked her brother-in-law, who has diabetes, how he disposed of the needles he uses to administer his insulin. He explained to Pete that the Ashland Senior center has a “sharps” container for residents (and others) to safely dispose of used needles.
Pete (pictured right) explained, “After I learned of what Ashland was doing, the next time I was visiting, I stopped by the Ashland Senior Center and took a picture of their collection box.” She continued, “I didn’t really know where to start, but the Ashland Board of Health gave me some helpful information. It turns out the waste company contracts to pick up the needles.”
Pete wasn’t sure what to do with the information she had, so like many of us in town, when we don’t know where else to go for help, she sought out Town Administrator Denis Fraine. “Denis took it from there and got it done,” she smiled. Pete was smiling because just recently the town has installed a sharps container right inside the door of the Senior Center on Blackstone Street. And just in time— a statewide ban on the disposal of needles, syringes and lancets "sharps" in household trash took effect on July 1.
Fraine said, “We did have a mail-in program for disposing of used needles, but it was a little cumbersome, especially for seniors.”
Council on Aging Director Laura DeMattia noted that the town has recently agreed to cover the added cost of having a sharps container installed at the senior center, with pick-up scheduled for every eight weeks. “It’s the same company that picks up the trash for the town,” DeMattia noted. “The container is going to be right next to the guest table where everyone signs in. We thought this would be a much more convenient arrangement than the mail-in program.” She continued, “It’s great that one of our own members saw this program in another community and took action. And it’s wonderful that the town was proactive about taking on the cost. Usually something like this doesn’t happen until there’s a problem.”
Pete took the initiative, not for her own benefit, but simply because she saw a need and wanted to do something about it. “I’ve talked with people who are diabetic and they all seem to put their used needles in a container and throw them out with their regular trash,” she said. “People can get hurt that way if it’s not the right kind of container. And no, I’m not a diabetic, I don’t need it for myself, it’s just something I was concerned about. When I saw that the collection box at the Bellingham Senior Center was finally there, I was so happy I cried!”
We often talk about problems in this world and conclude by saying, “Someone should do something about that.” For the Corriveau family, and especially for Pete, rather than looking around for that “someone,” more often than not they are ready to figure out what needs to be done and do it. Bellingham is better for having this family live here, ready to step in when they see a need. Thanks so much for all you do, and for continuing to give back!
For information on disposal of sharps, call the senior center, 508-866-5820.