Calgary business leader inspires others to give
Published Wednesday, August 31, 2011 4:05PM MDT
Jim Gray is a Calgary business icon. The co-founder of the enormously successful Canadian Hunter Exploration believes business and philanthropic endeavours go hand in hand.
"I don't think you can do it in stages by saying first of all I'm going to have my family and then I'm going to have my business and then I'm going to do my philanthropy," says Gray. "I believe that it's a continuum of all three throughout your life."
Gray practices what he preaches. He began contributing to others immediately upon his arrival in Calgary.
"I mean I can remember at the old YMCA Friday nights, with herald newspaper boys," says Gray. "I used to have classes back in the 50's."
As his company and profile grew, so did Gray's influence.
The Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter approached him for assistance.
Gray gave them a long term solution by launching the "Turning Points Dinner". The dinner is an annual fundraiser that also provides invaluable connections to Calgary's business community.
"I believe in building bridges before you need them," says Gray. "The dinner built the bridges. When fire devastated the Women's Emergency Shelter they did not have to hold a fundraiser, the money came across those bridges."
Maureen O'Connor of the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter says the efforts of Gray and the Turning Points Dinners were instrumental in the rebuilding of the shelter.
"Those corporate and community connections were so valuable at that time," says O'Connor. "We were able to rebuild the shelter immediately with all the support we had."
Gray's basic philosophy is recognized in the hallway that connects the shelter and the administrative offices next door.
"Jim had built bridges and so symbolically we wanted to recognize that," says O'Connor. "So we've named this bridge here in the shelter the Jim Gray bridge."
Gray has advice for the new generation of Calgary business people.
"Start off working in the community, even with your soccer team, with the YMCA, with the Women's Emergency Shelter, "Inn From The Cold", it goes on and on and on, just start," says Gray. "Start slowly and then ramp it up as you go through your life."
For the way he uses his resources to improve the lives of many Calgarians, Jim Gray is this week's inspiring philanthropist.