'Bonhomme a Lunettes' brings sight to those who need it
Published Saturday, March 11, 2017 4:31PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 11, 2017 9:52PM EST
A Montreal optician sees a big problem with the amount of people in the city who can’t afford a pair of glasses and is doing his part to fix it.
Philippe Rochette has become known as Le Bonhomme a Lunettes over the past 10 years as he’s gone from community centre to community centre to bring the gift of site to the city’s disadvantaged.
“There is a very, very high percentage of people that cannot afford to get a pair of glasses but when you don’t see and you need glasses, well, you cannot function normally,” he said.
Rochette has largely relied on word of mouth but recently has turned to YouTube. In a mock ad posted in July, Rochette is seen in a wig and fake moustache, Rochette boasts of his prices. While the video has a humorous tone, he takes his mission very seriously. Often, he pays out of his own pocket to make sure a client walks away with a pair of glasses.
“I have a saying that sometimes losing $40 or $50 on Monday could easily make you $500 or $600 on Friday,” he said.
Rochette charges $20 for a pair of glasses to those on welfare but also cuts deal for seniors on fixed incomes and low-income earners.
“Unfrotunately, the people on welfare do not have the monopoly on poverty,” he said.
His clients aren’t limited to those with limited funds – he estimated that 25 per cent of his customers are just looking for a good deal. But even in those cases, he makes sure there is a social benefit. For every pair he sells, $10 is donated to a community organization such as Dans La Rue or Sun Youth. That attitude began at the beginning of his career, when finding himself working in a regular optician shop, he found himself wanting to contribute more to the community.
“The community sector is searching for money all the time, so it’s useful,” he said. “I believe that those organizations are doing a very good job and it’s very useful to society.”