For 19 years Ron Davis and some of Canada’s finest musicians have donated their time and talents to bring music and cheer to the less fortunate at the annual Lawyers Feed the Hungry Christmas Dinner. The Lawyers Feed the Hungry program was established in 1998 to support those residents living with food insecurity, in poverty, or homelessness. It is one of the City’s few year-round programs providing approximately 60,000 meals each year. For Ron, who volunteers with a number of organizations that support the Arts, volunteering with Lawyers Feed The Hungry has been one of his most rewarding experiences –allowing him to help those in need, and spread some holiday cheer through music.
Ron, tell us how you first become involved with Lawyers Feed The Hungry?
I had the privilege of being involved as a volunteer serving with the founder of the program Martin Teplitsky. When I started in the 90’s, the program took place once a week and we served breakfast. The program has grown over the years to offer dine-in meals four times a week and has pivoted to take-out meals during the pandemic.
As a volunteer with Lawyers Feed the Hungry, what did you do to help out?
Early on my involvement consisted only of serving meals to those in need. However, sometime before 2000, I was asked, in addition to serving meals, to bring my band to perform for the annual Lawyers Feed the Hungry Christmas Dinner. I had no trouble rounding up some of the greatest musicians in Canada to come and volunteer their time play for two hours because the joy that we could see on the clients’ faces at those holiday events was unimaginable. Music is the glue that brings us all together – and to be able to provide two hours of music, with some of the greatest jazz musicians in Canada, was really a joy. Through the program I had the pleasure of meeting a part of my community that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet. To my surprise, I even met many fellow musicians who were in the program.
Given your experience with Lawyers Feed the Hungry has been so rewarding, what advice do you have for a young lawyer who is looking for opportunities to give back to the community?
I have three pieces of advice for young lawyers looking to give back.
First, in my experience it’s about quality, not quantity. If there is a concern that you don’t have five hours a week or ten hours a month to participate, then find a cause that moves you and interests you and do as much as you can. It might be five hours a year, or the odd email to your network to help promote the cause. Don’t presume something is undoable if it is something that’s meaningful and important to you.
Second, don’t lose sight of the fact that giving back to your community may impact your work as a lawyer as much as your work as a lawyer may impact your giving back to the community. Volunteering gives you a set of superpowers – it provides you with an understanding of your community and the people within it that you may not necessarily get from law.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is a mistake to focus on what contributing to the cause can do for you. Focus on what you can do for the cause without expecting anything in return other than contributing to the community. In my experience the rewards have always presented themselves when I’ve just thrown myself into something without expecting anything in return. It was always unintentional, but I can’t tell you how many gigs I got just through performing for the Lawyers Feed the Hungry program.
To learn more about Lawyers Feed the Hungry, visit http://www.lawyersfeedthehungry.ca/index.html