Never underestimate the power of a single individual to change the world, one life at a time.
Ray Abernethy has always been a community-minded soul. He started volunteering to mow lawns and do small household repairs for seniors around the Lower Mainland. While doing yard work for a Vancouver transition house, Ray saw first-hand the needs of the women, who, with their children, came to the shelter with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Ray started bringing in clothing and toys for the women and their children. He soon realized that when they left to start a new home, they would need so much more.
That’s when Ray went to work collecting furniture and household goods from family and friends and distributing them where the need was greatest. Thanks to word of mouth, Ray soon outgrew his own garage and started offering yard work in exchange for garage storage space. Eventually, Ray outgrew those neighbourhood garages and started searching for free warehouse space.
He got a chance to expand his work with the offer of a warehouse set for demolition within two years. Ray soon filled this warehouse to the brim and was helping more and more families. The line-ups were long and tiresome for those in need, so Ray set out chairs and offered coffee and donuts to ease the wait. A new, permanent warehouse space was eventually found.
It’s been 42 years since Ray started the Helping Families in Need Society and he hasn’t looked back since. Ray is now retired from his “day job” but continues to work full-time with the society as our president.