By Ed Conley
Ray Charley, recipient of the Pittsburgh Association of Manufacturers Representatives’ (PAMR) Lifetime Award of Humanitarian Achievement, comes by his generosity quite naturally.
Charley, who operates three Charley Family SHOP ‘n SAVE supermarkets alongside the next generation of sons Mike and Tom, is quick to acknowledge he is “the beneficiary and recipient of the largesse of my father and uncles. Not many had that experience of their family. I am a lucky guy.”
Following the footprints of grandfather Mike Charley and the Charley brothers Jim, Fred and Bill, Ray Charley began his lifetime of humanitarian achievement from his entrance into the supermarket business more than 30 years ago, formulating the best ways to give back to his community.
A member of Rotary International, he has received that organization’s Paul Harris recognition.
Ray Charley’s humanitarian outreach encompasses significant impact upon feeding people, health and welfare and children and youth.
Food banks are a priority, most notably through Operation Santa Claus, which feeds more than 7,000 people at Christmastime in conjunction with SUPERVALU and Trib Total Media.
Charley supports food banks, such as recently raising more than $800 for the Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Murrysville and annually supporting the Westmoreland County Food Bank at the holidays, most recently with a donation of three hundred $10 certificates for a holiday meal.
Improving wellness is another facet to Charley’s continuing focus on “the greatest importance” in the community.
Charley has served as chairman of the Westmoreland Frick Hospital Foundation, which raises significant funds, including a recent $1 million initiative supporting the ICU at Westmoreland Hospital.
The Charley SHOP ‘n SAVE in Murrysville donated $1,200 to the Blackburn Center for Domestic Abuse and supports the community’s Light Up Night and Murrysville Days.
Charley also served the United Way of Westmoreland County as past president of the annual campaign and member of the board of directors.
Of course, Charley is just as dedicated to his third priority, children and youth.
“That’s our future,” he reminds. “I’ve been involved in children and youth since I’ve been in business.”
He is past board chairman of the 4H program, annually purchasing champion animals since 1984 from the Westmoreland County 4H and the Penn State Cooperative programs.
The Boy Scouts of America has also benefitted greatly from Charley’s humanitarian endeavors. For about two decades, he has served on the board of the local council and Board of Trustees of the Endowment.
Since the late 1990’s, following his father’s lead, he became chairman of the annual SHOP ‘n SAVE Boy Scout Golf Outing, an overall SHOP ‘n SAVE event at Laurel Valley Country Club. With support from vendors and others, $25,000-$40,000 is raised each year.
Additional efforts on behalf of children and youth include Charley’s support of fundraising campaigns for the Franklin Regional Area Athletic Association and the Franklin Regional High School Football Association.
Charley also played a significant role in supporting the $180,000 Jennings Womack fitness center at Greensburg Salem High School, which falls into health and wellness initiatives, along with children and youth.
Charley stresses that the entire company makes these projects effective.
“The staff at our stores is the foundation of our philanthropy,” he says. “Otherwise, none of it is possible.”
And, there’s the family example for sons Mike and Tom, the future of the organization.
“They have been involved in philanthropy since they were young boys, just like I was with my dad,” Charley concludes.
Ed Conley, retired, is the former senior communications specialist/Food Industry Advisor editor for PFMA. He remains active with the Pittsburgh Association of Manufacturers Representatives.