By Jessica Chin
Although he’s donned a corporate suit, Williston Park resident Brandon V. Ray has a drive for charity.
Ray was recently elected to the board of directors for the United Way of Long Island, a Deer Park-based nonprofit that seeks to advance the common good.
Ray also serves on the board for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, the Union Baptist Church of Hempstead and Mentor New York, and as the regional director of external and legislative affairs for AT&T for Long Island.
Born and raised in Hempstead and a two-year resident of Williston Park, Ray said he hopes to use his new position with United Way to continue serving communities on Long Island.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said service is the rent we pay for to live in this society,” Ray said. “I don’t want to come into a community and just be a taker. I’m all about service if there is a way I can make a contribution then I will definitely lend my time and talent.”
One United Way program Ray highlighted was YouthBuild, which provides hands-on job training for low-income 18- to 24-year olds.
The 10-month program also helps young people obtain a high school equivalency diploma.
AT&T sponsors the program through its AT&T Aspire program. The telecommunications conglomerate contributed about $10,000 for the program over the past two years, Ray said.
Despite being new to the neighborhood, Ray said he is eager to serve Williston Park and is looking into how United Way can help.
“One thing I’ve been wanting to find out is what our veterans’ population is here in Williston Park and their services,” Ray said.
“There might be some opportunity to do some synergy” in the village through VetsBuild, a United Way program that helps veterans by providing housing assistance, employment and training.
Jean Cohen, the executive director of Mentor New York, said her first impression of Ray was from her employees, who advocated for him to be on the board of directors for the nonprofit, which trains and works with local organizations that want to start mentoring programs for free.
“When I was approached saying he might be interested in our board, several of my staff said, ‘Oh, we have to get him on board, he would be great,’” Cohen, said. “And their impression of him was really accurate, that he was interested in making a difference.”
Ray is very involved for a board member, contributing ideas to help their initiatives, Cohen said.
She cited his suggestion to have smaller conferences in New York City to better interact with local organizations in the five boroughs.
“He pays attention to what kind of things we need to have happen and has a good idea about how to move things forward,” Cohen said.