By the time Ray Gendron passed away in 2007 the charitable organization he started, BICSI Cares, had donated more than $1.1 million to children's charities and used to help build schools, feed the hungry, prevent abuse and violence, combat illiteracy and provide for an overall positive environment. BICSI Cares has made contributions to well more than 50 organizations in the United States and around the world.
The facts that Ray was a past BICSI president and led accomplished career in the telecommunications field became mere footnotes to anyone who met or heard of him once he put his efforts into BICSI Cares. The story goes that Ray passed a hat down a row of seats at a BICSI conference sometime in the late 1970s. When the hat came back with money in it, Ray decided to give the money to a local children's charity. The tradition was born. "What started as one BICSI member making a gesture of goodwill has evolved into an ongoing, heartfelt effort by BICSI members, conference attendees and organization supporters," BICSI said at the time of Ray's passing. The motto "BICSI Cares" was officially adopted in 1992.
"The telecommunications industry has served us well," Ray said. "The objective of BICSI Cares is to be good corporate citizens and give something back to those less fortunate."
As I wrote when I heard of Ray's death in 2007, the first time I saw him in action-10 years earlier-I walked away convinced that many of his conversations consisted of just three words: "For the kids." He stated that phrase to everyone he met, its purpose to remind us all of the ultimate beneficiaries for whom he was working. Furthermore, while everyone knew who Ray was, he couldn't possibly know every one of the thousands of individuals gathered at BICIS conference. But that didn't stop him from hitting them up for money, or from calling them by name. Many times I saw Ray glance at a conference attendee's name badge then call them by name. Though I didn't personally know Ray, he never failed to make my experience at a BICSI conference a better one for having spent a little time with him. Likewise, the money raised for charities, thanks in such large part to Ray's efforts, made life a little better for so many others he didn't know personally. "For the kids."