By Zachary Huey for The Island Connection
There are many parallels between a successful volunteer and a successful father. Both require dedication and diverse talents. Both can be difficult at times and can be thankless jobs. However neither fathers nor volunteers get involved for praise.
They do their best simply to help another life flourish. On this Father’s Day, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach wants to thank all of our volunteers who are fathers, as well as all men who raise children and make a difference. One such father who volunteers with OLM is Ralph Mastrangelo.
Ralph was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens, New York. After marrying his wife Liz, they made their home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Now their time is split between Franklin Lakes and Kiawah Island. They have three daughters, one residing in Boston, a second in Bend, Oregon, and the third in Hoboken, New Jersey. His professional career was spent working on Wall Street managing operations, technology and financial services businesses. It was an exciting time with market changes inducing innovation and rapid response.
Along with a busy professional life, Ralph felt the need to get involved in volunteering. As a young father he supported his daughters’ activities, but living in New York City opened his eyes to a diverse range of social and economic conditions, prompting him to give back to the larger community. He recalls: “I was happy to try to help where help was needed . . . I particularly enjoyed my volunteer work in education and health care. I volunteered at Junior Achievement of New York. I served on local school advisory committees and a private school foundation providing support for needy students in the community. I became involved in health care at the New York Downtown hospital, serving a large immigrant population in downtown Manhattan as well as the Wall Street community. I ultimately served on the hospital board during the events of 9/11 and in subsequent years, as it was the closest hospital to the World Trade Center, and faced the many challenges of a rebuilding downtown community.”
Now as a member of the Kiawah community, Ralph volunteers for committee work at The Kiawah Island Community Association and became a mentor and business student coach at The Citadel in Charleston.
As is the case with most great ideas, Ralph got involved with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services because of his wife. They were introduced to the organization by good friends on Kiawah. They attended the annual auction, met Sister Mary Joseph, and learned about the outreach mission and programs. The values closely aligned to their own, so Liz volunteered first and loved it.
Ralph got involved after his wife, and has stayed active in a variety of ways. He joined the Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach board this past year, served on the Finance Committee, and has done volunteer work at Neighborhood House in downtown Charleston where lunch is served daily to people experiencing poverty. Ralph loves being out in the community serving people, especially at a special place like Neighborhood House which is celebrating 100 years of service in Charleston.
Volunteering with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach is a special opportunity for Ralph to combine his interests in education and health care for immigrants and people living in poverty.
The work resonates on a personal level for him as well, “My grandparents were immigrants in Brooklyn and I learned of their many struggles from my father and saw first-hand the fruits of their labor. My hope is that through the work of the Outreach, others can receive the help they need to ultimately be successful and positive forces in their families and communities.”
In Ralph’s opinion an important contribution of a volunteer is to help people feel good about themselves and support their prospects for the future. “No one among us can control all of the variables all of the time. Giving people financial support is often helpful and necessary.
Helping with health and educational needs is absolutely fundamental to making truly sustainable positive changes in people’s lives. Another key piece to having a positive impact is having access to positive role models and mentors. So many Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach volunteers are doing just that every day. “
In honor of Father’s Day, Ralph shared what he would impart to his children, as well as what his father shared with him: “What should a father say to one’s children? They already know it. They already do it. Share your good fortune! For by any measure, to whom much is given, much is expected. Volunteering is a good way to share. My dad imparted to me a true sense of fairness and charity when he shared his good fortune one particular Christmas with a young immigrant family. Stuck with me, I guess!”
For more information on how to get involved with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach contact Zachary Huey via phone 843.559.4109 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The organization is currently seeking summer camp counselors.