According to Garett Ray’s nominator for the Columbus Jewish News’ 18 Difference Makers, “he exemplifies the Yiddish word used to describe a person who is righteous with integrity and compassion for other human beings – ‘a mensch.’”

The nominator continued, “While Jewish Family Services is physically closed currently, (he) and his staff are gathering food donations, supplying meals, masks and hand sanitizer to our clients who are in lockdown currently. Garett has worked with numerous organizations to help provide the needed items for our clients. He helps deliver the needed items to people’s homes and the clients are grateful for him and the organization for coming to see the clients, with his son in tow.”

What is your most gratifying job and why?

Working for the Wounded Warrior Project and developing adaptive athletic programs for soldiers and marines who have encountered life changing injuries. Being able to help someone who thought “I can never do that again” achieve a goal and continue to live their life with dignity was extremely gratifying.

Was there ever a turning point or shift that made you change how you approach community service or become active in the Jewish world?

While living in Cleveland, I was provided an opportunity to work at Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland. This opportunity allowed me to be involved in the Jewish community. Not once have I been judged for not being Jewish in either community or the many conferences I have attended in the country. I’ve always been treated with respect and that has encouraged me to continue to work in the Jewish community using all my passion to help others and make a positive difference in the community.

Who are your mentors and how did they impact you?

I have had many mentors along the way. One special mentor I would like to spotlight is Rick Parson, my director while working at Hattie Larlham in Akron. Rick was the most passionate individual I have ever met. Through his battle with cancer, he always had a positive spirit and ensured that others around him knew he cared about them. He constantly advocated for individuals with disabilities and others in need. Rick also motivated others to follow their dreams and would do anything he could to help them obtain those dreams. Every day Rick practiced the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Rick felt that each person had value and took the time to get to know people and make them feel special and worthwhile. Rick passed away April 29, 2012. I think of him every day and during the tough days, I hear his words motivating me to never slow down and to continue to make a positive difference for all.

What’s one takeaway you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

When there is a need the community will come together to ensure that those in need are taken care of.