Volunteer highlight

Ken Ready (LLB’76) has had a fulfilling career as one of the top lawyers in Canada over the past several decades. He has been recognized with many awards and accolades, including the Best Lawyer in Canada awards in Health Care Law and Medical Negligence.

Along with his impressive accolades in the legal community, Ready is a dedicated volunteer. He has been a part of many boards and organizations including the Saskatchewan Baseball Association, several theatre companies in Regina, the Arthritis Society and the Lakeview United Church.

G&W: What specifically attracted you to volunteering?

KR: I was raised in a large family where volunteering was important. As a parent, there is always an expectation to participate and to support whatever organization your children are involved in. My wife and I raised five children, each of whom were actively involved in a variety of activities; particularly sports, music, and theatre. We would dutifully volunteer. Occasionally we had to take a course or training to be a certified coach.

In almost everything that we have volunteered in, the child would move on, but either my wife Judy or I would be left behind and would continue as a volunteer. Sometimes years past the family connection. For example, I have been the commissioner for baseball for the Saskatchewan Baseball Association for about 20 years, almost all of which have been after my last child played the sport. My grandchildren are now involved. So I guess the clock has reset.

I have also been an active volunteer in other organizations because the cause or the purpose was interesting to me, personally. Like the Arthritis Society, or the Queen City Marathon or the church board that I chair. Not because I had to do these things, but because I wanted to and I enjoyed being a volunteer.

G&W: What keeps you motivated to continue to volunteer?

KR: I think that as a volunteer you need to enjoy a sense of purpose. It helps if the cause is fun or interesting work. Preferably both.

You want the organization to be successful. You want your role or contribution to be valued and to be relevant. I served on the national board of the Arthritis Society for a number of years, including acting as the national board chair. As much as I may have contributed to the success of that organization, I also found a sense of personal fulfillment. Not a measureable factor. Just the idea that maybe I had something worthwhile to offer and that the effort was appreciated.

G&W: What types of relationships and learning experiences have you taken away from volunteering?

KR: There are some basic skills that come with almost everything you take on. I think that over time you learn a lot about the human condition —how do people think, what motivates them, how do you accomplish something cooperatively. I think that a good volunteer is a good person. Like-minded people tend to be drawn to similar interests. You usually get to work with people who are interesting, and sometimes pretty passionate about whatever the cause is. I can’t easily think of anyone that I have worked with as a volunteer that I would describe as fundamentally selfish.

G&W: How do you aim to inspire others to get involved?

KR: I think most people will volunteer if asked. I am always a bit surprised when someone presents themselves and asks if they can help. I was never that self- confident. The challenge is probably in understanding if there is a good match of person and purpose. I suppose in my own circumstances, I hoped that the person who asked me to volunteer had already identified that I might be a good fit.

Although this is not news to anyone who grew up on the prairies, there is definitely a common willingness to help each other. Whether this is a cultural thing, or this is because we share miserable weather for a good part of the year and occasionally need someone to help push our car out of the snow, we seem by default to think in terms of “how can I help”.

At the end of the day, I think you can very well get more out of volunteering than you put into it. That seems like a pretty good deal.

USask celebrates the value of volunteering.

Visit alumni.usask.ca/get-involved/volunteer to check out volunteer opportunities.

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