For some people volunteering has been an activity they have done for most of their life, while others don’t get actively involved in it until much later. That is the case with Ray Lessard when a coincidence brought him into the realm of volunteering. It began when he and his wife first had children and they got involved in various events for them. It was through these events that Ray was exposed to the needs of the community at large and decided to get actively involved to make a difference not only for his kids, but also for all those who needed it.
When the Community Foundation of Mississauga was formed in 2001, Ray became part of the Investment Committee, and only three short years later became a member of the Board of Directors. He served as President of the Board from 2007 to 2009. In 2009 he joined the Peel Children's Aid Foundation to continue supporting those who needed it in the community.
The reason why he has volunteered in the past and continues to volunteer is not for the recognition, but for the experience of it all. Another reason is how personally rewarding it is to see the results of such hard work pay off. He and his family created the R. Lessard Family Fund that annually donates money to various children’s organizations in Mississauga. He has described the feeling of seeing all the smiles on the children’s faces that they help simply as, “Amazing.”
When asked what his greatest accomplishment was in his volunteering experience, he couldn’t pick just one. He maintained that it was the accumulation of all the positive impacts that he has managed to make, and the countless disadvantaged youths that his volunteering and family’s funding has been able to provide for their better future.
Another factor that keeps Ray volunteering is because of how influential it can be on others. “When you volunteer and see people doing good things for your community it motivates you to want to do good things as well, and hopefully it encourages other people to get out and volunteer. Any individual taking a small step can have a ripple effect. Whether that is encouraging other people to volunteer or giving someone else an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Ray has no plans of slowing down with volunteering anytime soon. He will continue to seek out new opportunities to help out in the community the best that he can and encourages everyone else to do the same. Volunteering may seem insignificant at the time and you may not even see the effects that your volunteering might have, but other people see those effects and a small ripple effect could lead to a tidal wave of positivity for other people.
Side-note: Ray is a busy executive, family man, musician, pilot, friend and sports enthusiast.His band “The Biznoids” has helped raise money for charity at fundraisers including the annual “Baystock” concert which has raised close to a million dollars for kids’ charities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Written by: Andrew Dmytrasz