Marc Crochet - Proud to help
Thursday 11 March 2021
Marc Crochet has just taken up his position as Executive Chief Officer of Caritas Luxembourg on 15 February this year. Interview with this man who is not a newcomer in social work in Luxembourg.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PROFESSIONALLY JOIN CARITAS LUXEMBOURG?
I worked for 27 years for the Luxembourg Red Cross. Those who know me can say that I gave my all and that I was involved in all the battles. Since the beginning of my professional career, and even before that, at the age of sixteen when I chose to become a volunteer, I have felt the need to make myself useful, favouring things that make sense. The Luxembourg Red Cross and Caritas Luxembourg, you know, are very close in their social work: we are committed to the same people, we apply the same working methods, and we approach our target audience with the same benevolence and without preconceptions. But while the "what", the "who" and the "how" are as similar as two drops of water, it is the "why" that introduces a nuance. At the Luxembourg Red Cross, a humanist organisation par excellence, my primary motivation was to help my fellow human beings. At Caritas Luxembourg, there is, in addition to this "horizontal" dimension, an additional dimension. The organisation brings together men and women who are driven by the conviction that they serve a greater purpose than individual ambition. Over the years, this "vertical" dimension has become increasingly important to me. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why I decided to join the organisation.
But there is another, very personal reason that contributed to my decision. It is part of my family history. My grandfather, Lucien Huss, has always been my life model. Apart from his many voluntary commitments, among others for the integration of the Portuguese community in our country (see footnote), my grandfather was administrator of Caritas Luxembourg in the 1970s and 1980s. I think he would be proud today to see me join this organisation that meant so much to him. And it makes me proud to continue to fight for the causes that were his...
A final reason is that Caritas Luxembourg was in urgent need of a Chief Executive Officer, after the difficult times it had gone through, especially with the death of its director, Andreas Vogt. It is very motivating to know that you are needed and that you have the right profile to help.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?
I have always considered that a priority for an association such as ours was to put young people at the centre of its concerns. We must not only be a model they want to follow, but also give them the opportunity to make their contribution. It was in this sense that I undertook to structure the Croix-Rouge de la Jeunesse in the 1990s. And it is in the same spirit, and with the aim of preparing the future of our organisation, that I would like to give my full support to "Young Caritas".
Another priority for me is people who are marginalised. It is not tolerable in a country as rich as ours that people are forced to live in the streets and that we are not able to offer them an alternative. The principle of "Housing First" is one way forward for me. It is easier to work on people's different problems if they don't have to worry every day about finding a place to stay for the night. Some people will say that a large proportion of them do not want to get help. I think that it is then our mission to find the right ways to convince them. We absolutely have to do something more. We must innovate and take new roads. People with new ideas are welcome at Caritas!
Finally, in order to solve the problem of homelessness, there has to be enough housing for everyone; hence the importance of investing even more in social housing.
IS THERE A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO THE STAKEHOLDERS OF CARITAS LUXEMBOURG?
I rather have a story to tell them.
At the age of 16, I was hired by the Luxembourg Red Cross for its annual fundraising campaign. With a friend from high school, we were in charge of the Pfaffenthal neighbourhood. At that time, it was one of the poorest areas of the City of Luxembourg. We wondered whether it was right to come and ask for donations in this district, when it was clear that many of the people who lived there were struggling to make ends meet. We didn't dare too much. We decided to ring the first bell anyway. It was then, at rue Laurent Ménager, that I received my first lesson in life. The lady who opened us the door lived in a real slum. She let us into her kitchen and started to make all the drawers to get out a few pieces which she gave us, apologising for not being able to do more. Embarrassed, I said that she could keep them, that she surely needed them. She replied that there are people who are even more in need than she is and that she was happy to be able to help. That was the day I learned the meaning of being proud. And I learned to appreciate the gesture of giving, whatever the amount.
I would like Caritas Luxembourg's stakeholders to know that we do everything we can to make them proud to contribute to our actions and thus to improve the situation of people in need.
Note: Lucien Huss (*1907, +1998) was, together with Carlos de Pina, co-founder of the association "Amitiés Portugal-Luxembourg", an association which contributed to the setting up of the pilgrimage of the Portuguese community to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima on the heights of Wiltz and which today gathers, each year, nearly 20,000 faithful. He is also known as the "spiritual father" of the newspaper Contacto, launched in 1987