Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

His business is 'building smiles, joy, happiness'

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Bob McNaughton seems to be taking retirement in stride. Six years in, he could be sipping pina coladas on a beach, playing a few rounds of golf, but instead he's devoting his time to investing in the potential of today's youth.

That's why he chooses to volunteer, as part of the MTS volunteers group, for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.

"It's nice to volunteer with people who are making life better for our youth," says McNaughton. "We really depend on our youth. I'm going to depend on them as I get older, and hopefully when I'm ready for help, they'll have the initiative to do these things for me."

Twenty-five years ago, the former MTS worker decided to join the MTS volunteers group, a growing trend in corporate social responsibility that sees companies encouraging and supporting employees in giving their time to local non-profit organizations within their own communities. They provide vehicles, equipment and work spaces for their employees to go out into communities and do good.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg operate 11 community-based clubs across the city, providing numerous youth development programs, from education, health, sports and arts, for youth ages 6 to 18 years. Some clubs have programs seven days a week, offering youth a safe alternative to the streets during the evening and after-school hours. All programs are absolutely free.

The MTS volunteers group first helped the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg get a new bank of computers for their Gilbert Park club. To McNaughton, coming from a technology background, the importance of providing computers to children cannot be understated. "They're our future, we need to give them what they need to succeed. If it's going to help in their education, in them being better citizens, why should they be left behind?"

In the process of fundraising for computers for a second club, the Aberdeen club, McNaughton discovered there were massive renovations going on to the club. So he decided to lend a hand, helping out with renovation day, and getting the MTS volunteers group to put their wood workshop to good use by building tables for the new computers.

Heather Black, director of volunteers and events for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, has aptly nicknamed McNaughton "Bob the Builder Man," but not for the reasons one might suspect. She laughs and says Bob is in the business of "building smiles, joy and happiness wherever he goes... it is contagious."

Over the past few years McNaughton, aside from the renovations, has volunteered for several projects for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.

Ron Brown, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, says McNaughton is "the perfect volunteer." He recalls one time McNaughton volunteering at their annual golf tournament, out in the 37 degree heat, never once complaining, always laughing and helping out.

"How could we possibly do what we do without Bob?" says Brown. "In his retirement, there is a number of options, he could go quietly sit on a beach somewhere, but the fact is that Bob has a sense of social responsibility, he really does want to invest in making our city a better place. He obviously has the same vision for our kids that we have."

McNaughton laughs, saying his wife always tells him when he goes to volunteer meetings to sit on his hands. " 'Stop putting your hand up to volunteer for more things', she says. But I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to be."

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg are looking for more volunteers for their upcoming holiday parties for children and youth. Individuals interested in volunteering, please visit www.wbgc.mb.ca or contact Heather Black at black@wbgc.mb.ca .

 

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin at carolynshimmin@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2012 B2

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