Ron Pearson exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader. For more than 35 years, he’s dedicated his time and influence to the community as chair of United Christmas Service (UCS), a United Way of Central Indiana program that provides holiday assistance to those in need.
“Once upon a time there were not many community programs battling for dollars or toys during the Christmas season. That has simply changed,” he said. Pearson has been a driving force for UCS, leveraging his longtime career in advertising and media to draw attention to those in need. His efforts have directly led to the expanded presence of UCS in Central Indiana and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions and in-kind support for the cause.
“I’m a very left-handed, right-brain guy and live in my emotions a lot. I could conjure up the thought of a family so hopeful but receiving nothing during the holidays,” said Pearson describing his motivation to do more. “Most people have a joyful experience, but the ones whose names have been given to UCS have no place to go.”
A valuable community stakeholder, Pearson’s also been very involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis, where he served as a board member for 26 years and played an integral part in incorporating girls into the club. He has also dedicated nearly 40 years to serving United Way as a UCS volunteer and past board member. He is one of the organization’s longest serving volunteers.
Pearson attributes his passion for community service to the inspiration and example set for him by his grandfathers, both Methodist ministers, and their generous work in the community. This has been a mainstay in his professional career and something he’s incorporated into family traditions. “My adult kids probably can’t remember a time where we weren’t sponsoring a family at Christmas, along with my extended family,” said Pearson. He continues to deliver warm clothes, toys and food to families in need throughout Central Indiana each year.
“Midwesterners are known for their hospitality, having faith in their fellow man and willing to expose themselves a little bit to someone else’s pain,” said Pearson. He hopes his example will draw like-minded individuals to focus on compassion and look for opportunities to make a positive impact in the communities where they live and work. “Volunteering doesn’t take a lot of money and it’s hugely rewarding. You won’t regret it.”