Giving back to the community is something I have done for many years, from my high school days onward. In the 1990s I sat on the Board of Directors of C@M Internet, Montreal’s pioneer Internet provider and a non profit corporation in its own right. The day to day operations were managed by a general manager and the board convened to make key decisions. In terms of volunteering there was no heavy lifting involved. I continued to sit on this board until the organization merged with COOPTel.

In the late 1990s I was elected to the Board of Directors of the United Irish Societies of Montreal, an organization I joined in 1991 or 1992. Since that time I served as Treasurer, Vice President – Organization, Senior Vice President, President, and Chairperson of the Website Management Committee. With the exception of Vice President – Organization, who is responsible to organize the longest consecutively held St. Patrick’s Parade in Canada, none of those positions were truly labour intensive. Best known as the Parade’s organizers, the United Irish Societies organizes a Christmas Raffle to the benefit of approximately sixty disadvantaged families at a time of year when they are most vulnerable. The most rewarding tasks I have ever performed with the United Irish Societies is assembling and delivering Christmas Baskets. To see a child, whose apartment is barren of furniture and whose window dressing consists of old bedsheets, scream with excitement at the amount of food he is receiving or to receive an appreciative hug from a mother gives me the reassurance that what we are going is a good thing.

Yogi Berra once said “Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets.” In the Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace Borough of the City of Montreal there is a successful baseball organization, NDG Minor Baseball League, where my son plays recreationally. I was invited to join this board of directors and have served as convenor, assistant treasurer, president, and director of communications. At times I have also served as coach on my son’s teams. There is nothing more rearding than seeing a child succeed at something he or she has struggled with the entire season. NDG Baseball is a great organization with a core group of long serving, dedicated, volunteers.

This past summer I was also invited to join the board of directors of the Saint Patrick’s Society of Montreal, Canada’s oldest fraternal organization predating the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste by three months, where I chair the Communications Committee and am a member of the Christmas Concert Committee. 

I am honoured and humbled to have served on each of these boards of directors. Each experience has been, and continues to be, rewarding in its own right. You should volunteer some time in your community. You will appreciate it as well the organization you choose to volunteer with.