Mike Gray: Volunteering can feed the soul

By Emily Burleigh

Mike Gray believes volunteers are created when they are selflessly helped by someone else.

“I’ve experienced situations where you see people volunteering because of how it feeds their souls. There is no other reward except how it makes them whole.

Gray is originally from Savannah, Ga., but considers Southwest Louisiana to be his home. He moved to Cameron when he was 3 years old.

“I graduated from South Cameron High School in 1997. Go Tarpons!”

He received his Associate of Science and Computer Information Technology and his bachelor’s in general studies with a concentration in information technology from McNeese State University. He has since put 22 years of work into the technology industry at Xpedius Communications and the Calcasieu Parish School Board. He currently works at Citgo Petroleum Corporation as a Tech Support Analyst.

Gray’s inspiration to volunteer is fueled by watching the fulfillment of other volunteers.

“I have personally had help in my life,” Gray said. “When you feel what it is like for someone to help because they wanted to, it makes you want to be that person making people feel the way you did.

“Volunteering for me means that my family and I are able to give someone or some group hope in whatever it is that they may need it for.”

Gray ensures his sons are taught the volunteering values. He has two main reasons for doing this.

“They are typically viewed as the ones that need the help, but in turn they are both able to help to hopefully change the culture standard that anyone can help someone.

“Second, when one helps another for no physical or monetary reward, they will appreciate it when someone helps them in the future.”

Gray stays busy volunteering for various causes.

One of his most memorable volunteer experiences occurred at the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Camp Starlite. “We got to have summer fun activities with all of the people with Muscular Dystrophy,” he explained. “We played with water balloons, water guns, and a game of Battleship. During that time, I could see that our time there as a team allowed them to feel like any other kid.”

Gray annually volunteers as Santa Clause at local elementary schools. “Getting to be the one to listen to each one of the kids and see their face light up lets me know that I’m making a difference.

“One I get to volunteer for and be a part of with my entire family is Ainsley’s Angels of SWLA,” Gray said. “This is very important to me as a father, because I get to lend my legs to my very own two boys in order for them to win a 5K, 10K, and half-marathons.”

In addition to running with their Ainsley’s Angel Pink Family, Gray also volunteers as an assistant Scoutmaster. “This gives me the opportunity to see and help young boys gain the tools and knowledge required to be productive young adults.”

Gray wants others to volunteer, not because it’s the right or cool thing to do, but because you want to give your time to others.

“I believe that giving your time is the most valuable thing anyone can do. When you stop what you want to do in order to do something for others, it is the most rewarding.”

Gray was recently honored for his volunteer service by We Are Volunteer Employees (WAVE). He said he was humbled to be recognized by his fellowship of other local volunteers and asked to throw out a first pitch by the McNeese State University softball team.

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