Aaron Margolis believes volunteering in his community should be a family affair.
The vice president of product with Investors Group Inc. in Winnipeg had the importance of volunteering passed on to him by his grandfather and his parents. So, when Margolis heads out to lend a hand for any of the various causes he supports throughout the year, one or all of his family – his wife Rachel and their children, Nicole, 14, Mitchell, 11, and Harry, 6 – are with him.
“It has really become part of the traditions in my family,” Margolis says. “I think it’s important to show [our kids] the importance of helping others. They have a good life, they go to good schools and they have everything they need. It’s important to show them [the difference volunteering can make]. Hopefully, they’ll do it when they get older.”
Margolis is a director with several organizations in Winnipeg, including the Salvation Army Winnipeg Business Advisory Board, for which he is chairman, and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. Over the past decade, he has also been a director with Food Banks Canada, Agape Table, Jewish Child and Family Services, and Investors Group’s Community Projects Fund.
But as much as Margolis enjoys making a difference in his governance roles, he finds it can be even more satisfying to get out and meet the people who are benefiting from the generosity of the various organizations, as well as getting involved with the programming and the events.
So, Margolis and his family regularly participate in the Salvation Army “kettle” campaigns every holiday season (in which donors place cash in a glass kettle), staff the phones for the Agape Table telethon, serve Christmas dinners at the Salvation Army Booth Centre and serve meals at the Main Street Project and Andrews Street Centre as part of Investors Group’s community programs.
“I think it’s important to help out,” Margolis says. “You get to a certain point in life at which you feel you don’t need any more. We’re all pretty lucky; we have what we need. But there are a lot of people who don’t, and they need help.”
Nicole is required to perform 20 hours of community service work in order to qualify for a school field trip to Washington, D.C. That work has long ago been completed.
Margolis particularly enjoys helping out in the kettle campaign because this is where his youngest, Harry, is at his best.
“He’s a money magnet,” Margolis says with a laugh. “He interacts with people as they walk by. They’re drawn to him and they put money in the kettle.”
In April, during Passover, the Margolis crew will help to deliver kosher meals around the city.
“Kosher food at Passover is expensive,” Margolis says. “A lot of people can’t get around and many of them are shut-ins.”
Volunteering is second nature to Margolis, who is an avid tennis player and works out regularly at a popular boxing gym. He got his first taste of volunteering in high school on food drives to help out a Jewish senior citizens’ home. Then Margolis did more of the same while studying at McGill University in Montreal.
Today, Margolis estimates he puts in a minimum of 20 hours of volunteering per month, both on boards and “on the ground,” which adds up to hundreds of hours per year. And although he admits Investors Group might benefit from the work he and his family do throughout the year, that’s not what motivates him: “I do it because I want to.”
© 2014 Investment Executive. All rights reserved.