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home : current news : current news November 16, 2018

2/27/2018 1:59:00 PM
Jeff McDonald: giving back to his community
Jeff McDonald has always given back to his community  including service to Sisters.  photo by Sue Stafford
+ click to enlarge
Jeff McDonald has always given back to his community including service to Sisters. photo by Sue Stafford

By Sue Stafford

Jeff McDonald, the manager of Ray's Food Place in Sisters for the past 18 years, understands what it means to give back to his community.

As a high school courtesy clerk (box boy) at the North Valley Sentry grocery store, he organized a car wash and car show to raise money for Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland. One of McDonald's sisters had undergone a number of surgeries there, and he was aware of how the hospital helped his parents with medical bills and a place to stay during trips to Portland.

That support of Doernbecher continues today as C & K Markets (Ray's parent company) supports the Children's Miracle Network fund drive each June, with all money collected at the Sisters Ray's going to Doernbecher.

From that early beginning in Merlin, Oregon, McDonald's level of community involvement has continued every place he has lived, as evidenced by all the commendations, plaques, and photographs that cover his office walls.

Kiwanis has played a big part in his life, being introduced to the service organization during his first stint as a manager for Ray's in Klamath Falls. He was just getting ready to join when he was transferred to Waldport.

There was no Kiwanis there but, immediately upon his arrival in town, McDonald became involved with the long-standing Beachcomber Days celebration that was lacking leadership and needed some new blood. McDonald stepped into that leadership void and revitalized the weekend event, serving as its president for six years.

He involved his employees in the effort, so when he was transferred to Sisters after six years, they were able to carry on some of his responsibilities. He is proud to say Beachcomber Days is still going strong the third weekend in June.

Of his time in Waldport, McDonald recalled, "By jumping right in, I got to know everyone in town."

That same leadership and "can-do" attitude showed up with McDonald on his arrival in Sisters. The previous Ray's manager had been in charge of the Kiwanis golf tournament. He told McDonald he would have to take over his duties, and thus began his long-time involvement with Sisters Kiwanis.

He remembers fondly his first few days in Sisters, when a number of locals came into the store and welcomed him to the community. He discovered later those were all Kiwanians - Bill Duran, Bill Reed, Bob Grooney and Peter Storton.

Since McDonald's arrival, that golf tournament has grown to two complete flights with lunch in the middle. It's grown from 72 golfers to 242. The money raised has increased from $3,000 to $4,000 to $25,000 a year.

His local involvement through Ray's reaches beyond Kiwanis. Since it's inception, he has worked with the Starry Nights Foundation.

"The opportunity to work with Jeri (Fouts) and Susan (Ahrens) has been amazing," McDonald said.

Ray's is the Saturday afternoon sponsor of the Sisters Rodeo as well as sponsoring a chute in the arena. In addition, Kiwanis puts on the Buckaroo Breakfast every year on Sunday morning.

McDonald credits working for Ray's for the chances he has had to make a difference in his community.

"As a company, we're located in small communities. We're always very involved and counted on to be a part of the community," explained McDonald. "Being employed (by Ray's) has given me so many opportunities that I might not have had."

The Sisters community has regularly recognized and thanked McDonald for his contributions. A look at his office wall shows he served as Kiwanis president in 2003-04 as well as receiving numerous awards and certificates for his dedication and service to the club and the community.

"Sisters Kiwanis does so many amazing things. They are involved in everything. So many receive benefit from Kiwanis's efforts," said McDonald. "It is very rewarding to be part of Kiwanis."

One small framed momento holds a special place for McDonald. It is the Kiwanis logo that was needlepointed for him when he was president by longtime Sisters resident and fellow Kiwanian Warren Seaward.

When asked of what he is most proud, he paused, looking down with apparent humility, and then said, "My recognition of 30 years of service with Ray's, to be 35 in April."

In Waldport he was named Junior Man of the Year for his leadership with Beachcomber Days. McDonald has also been named Sisters Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.

McDonald's two sons, Cole and Chase, are both in Sisters, and worked as Ray's courtesy clerks during high school. Cole appears to be following in his father's footsteps, now working as assistant produce manager in the Sisters store. Chase works for Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction.

McDonald's time away from work and volunteering is spent outdoors where he enjoys fishing, hunting, kayaking, archery, hiking and skiing, despite a high school football injury that involved several compound fractures of 11 different bones. The ankle wasn't set right and caused his shoe size on that foot to pull up from a 12 to a nine-and-a-half.

"But I'm able to do anything I want," McDonald said with assurance (despite the pain).

McDonald shares his philosophy of giving back with his employees.

"Everyone should take on leadership roles that fit them," he said. "Don't accept something you've had to be talked into or that you're not ready to do. I teach that to everyone who works here, whether they are tutoring, coaching, or volunteering at the library."

McDonald sees some changes in the community over the past 18 years.

"We've always had a wonderful sense of community. All the components are still here. People are active, engaged, knowledgeable, and can work together for the common good."

Where he sees a difference is in the amount and type of discourse that occurs.

"There seems to be more taking sides, with some being overzealous about their opinions. It can be hard to execute a plan when it is being picked apart."

Ray's is one of those businesses that almost daily receives requests for monetary or material donations.

"Every group in town at some time is engaged in fundraising. We are looked to daily to help with fundraising. I had three requests yesterday. My job is to decide how to best use the resources we have and how to best help. It comes down to having a realistic budget used in the best way," he explained.

He offers a challenge to everyone:

"I challenge everybody to step over any kind of excuse you might have, to participate in some way in your community. You might be surprised what you have to offer. It will be very rewarding for you and those who are the end to the cause. Most people don't realize what all these efforts are about."

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2018
Article comment by: Mac Hay

Excellent article about a good man.

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