To say Michael Fraleigh likes to help is an understatement. In addition to his busy health law practice, he manages to spend a considerable amount of time giving back to his community. According to Michael, who is the President of Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto and on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario, “when you invest the time and energy to volunteer, you are investing in yourself just as much as the causes you support.”
For almost two decades, Michael has been involved in leadership roles with both the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto and now the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario. When asked about how he became involved in his various volunteer commitments he jokingly replies “Most of the time you get involved because someone ropes you in.” Joking aside, as a community based organization, Michael plays an important role in helping to direct the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario’s strategic focus and fundraising efforts. He says, instead of focusing on research, the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario is focused on providing support to local chapters which provide programs, counselling and education, to support individuals and families who are affected by Alzheimer’s. This shared purpose to create a community of support is a feature of the organization Michael highly values.
Currently over 500,000 Canadians are living with dementia, a number that is set to reach 912,000 in 2030 due to a rapidly aging population. In addition to those who are themselves afflicted, one in five Canadians have experience caring for someone with the condition. Michael, whose father, mother and grandmother had suffered from dementia, with the latter two also having Alzheimer’s, is able to relate to what many Canadians currently face. Having lived this experience prompted Michael to get involved, so that he could learn more and help others who are going through what he and his family went through.
For many, choosing to serve on a non-profit board allows you to become an integral part of solving problems in your community. In addition to his work with the Alzheimer’s Society, Michael is also the President of Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto. Like many organizations, he has spent much of his time this past year working with the executive and staff to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic to help the Temple Sinai Congregation stay connected. When asked about his volunteer experience, and any advice he had for younger lawyers on the benefits of giving back to their community, he shared: “Volunteering provides you the opportunity to contribute in ways that are different from your day-to-day job. When you are focused on a common cause, you use and develop different skills and engage with people on a different level.”
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario visit https://alzheimer.ca/on/en