I would like to tell you about an extraordinary person I know ... Mike Blondin is his name. He lives in Bright’s Grove where he grew up, a stones’ throw from Huron House Boys' Home where I work.
The Boys’ Home is a respected residential facility that’s been helping teenaged boys for 44 years and Mike has seen the impact it has had on many kids. He knows how discreetly we operate, and that we are sometimes overlooked as an organization in need of support.
A few years ago Mike, who works for the Pipefitters’ Union and does testing for the Quality Control Council of Canada, put together a golf tournament for associates of the Council. He arranged sponsors and collected prizes; then contractors and union members paid to participate.
The tournament was such a hit all around that Mike repeated the performance again, and again. In four years he has raised about $35,000.
Many would be content to co-ordinate such an event and donate the money but Mike had a very specific plan to make a difference. To make it work, he became well acquainted with staff and some of the boys and found out what would really, really help. Then he went shopping.
He bought sports equipment for the boys, then small appliances and equipment to replace aging items in the kitchen and independent living apartment. When that need was met, he purchased furniture (did you know, teenaged boys can be very hard on furniture?) to refurbish a den where the boys socialize and watch TV.
Last year he acquired five lawn mowers to replace the ones that had been limping along for years. I don’t know who was happier, the boys who use them for community jobs, or Jack who no longer spends hours repairing them.
For most people, that would be more than enough. But not for Mike! He eyed up surplus T-shirts from the Boys’ Home Father’s Day fundraiser (our Run/Walk/Skate/Bike) and arranged for a local student group heading to Africa to share the shirts with people in Kenya.
This is the kind of thing Mike does wholeheartedly, unasked, and expecting nothing in return. He connects people and resources from different circles in his life. Corporations donate financing and prizes. Co-workers enjoy golfing. At-risk boys are included in useful ways and benefit from the proceeds. Employees become volunteers. Staff come together to brainstorm in new ways. Our charitable organization helps another a world away. And because he buys local, even the local economy benefits.
But most of all, Mike shares joy. He comes with a smile and enthusiasm, and goodwill spreads everywhere he goes. For all that he does, I believe Mike should win an Unsung Hero Award.
Sharon Crowe is the Events Coordinator and the Huron House Boys’ Home