When Tom McBride was a tiny baby, the ‘goodness gods’ slipped into the nursery and implanted a generosity chip in among the curls, making sure it entered his brain.
And as a wee fellow Tom got into his share of devilry, ‘tom’foolery (if you will), which has equipped him superbly to participate in raising the two boys that he and Barb Robillard have given to the world! But the generosity chip grew along with Tom and the Barrie has benefitted enormously from it.
I wrote two weeks ago about the women who were honoured as Legends Leaving a Legacy, and Tom is a legend as well. Now, he’ll be protesting when he sees this. He’ll say things like: “Donna, hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, business people, workers, finance people… they all made this happen.”
True enough. But it takes the person at the helm, the person willing to step up to the plate and take responsibility, to delve into issues, to create harmony from discord, to think creatively, to access the business community and turn them on, and to say thank you again and again and again.
Tom McBride is that person. And his legacy is enormous.
On Friday when the staff for Gilda’s Club begins moving from their Bell Farm Road office over to the brand new 10,000 square foot example of building excellence on Quarry Ridge Rd, it’ll be because Tom McBride stepped up to give five years of his leadership life to bring that building to life. And Gilda’s Club is opening on schedule and under its $4 million budget because people caught Tom’s spirit and gave labour, materials, and jobsite construction pro bono or at cost.
When you drive past the MacLaren Art Centre in the old Carnegie Building at the corner of Collier and Mulcaster streets, you’re driving past 14 years of Tom McBride’s life… as he joined the board of the MacLaren during a complex financial arrangement and moved up to board president to take on leadership for a $6 million campaign.
The Barrie Chamber of Commerce got years of Tom McBride’s brilliant dedication as he served in several capacities, always a team player and always with an eye on making things better than they were.
Tom takes his analytical and strong business skills and is never satisfied to just belong to something. He sees a need and his quiet insightfulness lands him right at the top in a leadership role that usually demands tenacity, a belief in the basic goodness of people, commitment to see things through, and an ability to bring dozens of people on board in equally active capacities.
Joan Lehman is a great example of Tom’s ability. She worked very closely with Tom as she served as the Building Manager during the MacLaren Art Centre days, overseeing a myriad of architectural details, satisfying a board of directors and a complex ownership structure. For Joan, the MacLaren was a dedication equal to Tom’s.
When Tom took on Gilda’s Capital Campaign Chair responsibilities, he was in the for long haul. He immediately called Joan Lehman to take on the Building Manager project. She said no. Then Tom called again and asked Joan to come with him to look at the Gilda’s Club project in Toronto. He wanted to get advice and broaden his understand of potential.
“I went with him. I learned about what Gilda’s is, how it is a place for cancer patients and their families to just be, to get support, to share what’s happening to them, to keep well,” says Joan. “I agreed to take on the project but the building at that time was going on the hospital site, and my role was to look out for Gilda’s interests. When the building move off site, Tom asked if I’d stay with the project as Building Chair.”
It’s been four years for Joan, and just as many years for many others and it’s due to Tom’s people wizardry that volunteers bring their commitment, their wallets, their skills and their energy to these projects.
Tom McBride is a humble man who never looks outside of himself. He’s persistent. He’s very thorough. He’s an excellent communicator. He stays with an issue and he doesn’t drop the details. He’s an inclusive organizer.
And all of this is outside of his daily work as a financial planner.
If we think about the numbers of buildings, organizations, projects that just wouldn’t be without Tom McBride… well… we’re just plain lucky!