Celebrate Seniors: Meet Community Leader Gary J. Michalak
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Timmins but moved to Azilda at the age of 12 and have lived here ever since. I married my wife Gisele in September 1969 and we have two children.
I earned a diploma in leisure studies from Fanshawe College and a diploma in public administration from Laurentian University
I’ve held a variety of positions over the years. I’ve worked at INCO in their geophysical exploration airborne division, in real estate, with the Town of Rayside-Balfour as Commissioner of Parks and Rec, with the Ministry of Culture and Recreation as a recreation consultant and nine years as CAO of the Town of Rayside-Balfour.
I’m currently president of Gary J. Michalak & Associates Inc. and executive director of Café Heritage (formerly Café-musique).
What volunteer experiences have you been most passionate about in your life?
I’ve been a member of the Azilda Lions Club for 49 years, am the founding president and still active with the Chelmsford Valley District Comp. School Alumni Association, am a member of the Chelmsford Legion and have volunteered for 10 years with Café-musique Productions now Café Heritage.
Altruism is my primary motivator in being involved in community development. I consider it payback for the salary received while employed by the community. I’m honouring my Mother who was a cub scout leader and my reward is the smiles on the faces of those we care for and serve.
What would you like people to know about you?
My passion for family, friends and community.
My passion for culture and heritage.
My passion in the belief we are all created equal and share Mother Earth.
My passion for those who raise their hands and take on leadership to serve.
My passion for those who give back to their community.
What would you want people to know about the process of aging?
I have never really taken the time to think about aging. Aging is yet another word for “journey” and my journey has been filled with incredible friendships who have contributed to my personal growth. Every day brings about new and interesting challenges in trying to make a difference in the lives of those who you encounter.
I define youth as someone who is one day younger than I am. We should not be critical of our youth and their lifestyles that may be different from yours. I can clearly remember when I was in my teens that many older adults were critical. When I hear my peers talking negatively about today’s youth, I sort of grin and say ah! not really that bad.
What advice would you share with future generations?
You can move mountains if you surround yourself with those who share the same vison in caring and serving our community.
Of what are you most proud?
I have truly tried to treat every person with dignity and respect. If we all followed the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Grandfather and Grandmother, this world would be incredible.