Celebrity's Modern Family
Meet Your Fellow Captain's Club Members
There are people who do good in the world. And then there are some people who really take that concept to new heights. Recently aboard Celebrity Infinity®, we met up with Captain’s Club members Marcel and Gudrun Laurendeau. They are the epitome of giving back and walking the talk. By far. Very far.
Even though they lived in the same town for decades, they really connected at the time she was a banker and he was a business owner and elected official who came into the bank regularly. Gudrun recalled, “He was the one who made me blush.” Last month, they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary. We spoke with them as they had coffee on their outdoor deck in Manitoba, Canada, birds chirping and a friendly dog barking in the background.
After many years in the corporate and political worlds, they explained they both came to a point where they were ready for the next chapter, and they wanted to do something positive and give back. They wanted to help, and they wanted to “walk the talk.” Even though they both have adult children from previous marriages, Gudrun’s idea was that they have enough love for kids that they could still foster young kids who needed help navigating the world. It was a romantic vision at first. They were determined to keep siblings together and as stable as possible. They expected they would work with the kids and their parents, while the parents got back on track, and then return the kids to their families after a few months. That’s exactly how it worked with their first foster venture—twin 7-month-old boys. Like clockwork.
Then, the fun and challenges began. About 4-1/2 years ago, the foster agency contacted them again and asked if they would take in two little girls, Lilli and Emily, ages 10 and 4. Of course, they did. Soon, the girls’ 12-year-old sister, Rozine, joined them. Now, they were up to three foster children. The girls’ mom gave birth to another baby, a girl named Camryn. She joined Gudrun and Marcel when she was one day old as they were determined to keep the family together.
Yes, there’s more to the story. The family increased to half a dozen children with the arrival of Felicity (another newborn sister) and Darcie, the girls’ cousin, a few years ago. Darcie’s brother, Roger, soon joined the growing family bringing the current count to seven foster children ranging in age from 2 to 17. Whew! That’s a lot of love.
As the kids get older some worry that they will lose the support of the foster system at eighteen and be left to take care of themselves. Not with Gudrun and Marcel. They promised the kids they would not “age them out at eighteen.” They assured the kids they would always be there for them. “It’s no one’s fault,” Gudrun said. We want to help these kids to “change their cycle so they can be successful and live a healthy, independent life when they are ready”
How do Gudrun and Marcel handle seven children and all that comes with it? With grace and patience, of course. And they do make it a point to spend time with each other every day at three for coffee and to reconnect. And, yes, they do take an annual Celebrity cruise that gives them a much-needed break. Both praise the Celebrity crew for their amazing abilities to make them feel special while on board. “We can’t go anywhere else and there are no bad cruises,” notes Marcel. Plus, they say the Wi-Fi onboard helps them stay connected. It let them Facetime the kids as the two of them were sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge on their recent Pacific Coastal cruise. The kids were mesmerized and thrilled to see it this way.
What’s next for the family? In 2018, they took all the kids in a motor home to old Quebec City and Nova Scotia, so they could swim in the Atlantic Ocean. They hope to do the same in the opposite direction and visit British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. We think this is one very special family. And Gudrun and Marcel are two exceptional people. We hope you get meet them on board one day. Happy sailing!