The world is full of good people who will always find time to help others when the right opportunity comes along, says Ray Kerins.
He ought to know. The 49-year-old Somers man coaches youth sports, has been a volunteer firefighter and has racked up numerous awards as a public relations professional.
As chief spokesman for pharmaceutical giant Bayer in the U.S., Kerins’ work schedule is jam-packed.
But it doesn’t keep him from spending time with his three kids—Jack, 15, Meagan, 13, and 11-year-old Katie—and wife, Brenda. He and his son recently took part in an outreach program that provides clothing and other essentials to folks in need.
Oh, and he also runs three miles every day.
“You have to take care of yourself if you want to take care of others,” Kerins says.
Now, as the newest member of the Congressional Award Foundation’s board of directors, Kerins says he is grateful to have the chance to pass the baton to the next generation of big-hearted and social-minded youth.
The Congressional Award was established in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young folks.
According to its mission statement, the charity is “nonpartisan, voluntary, non-competitive” and open to anyone from the age of 13 to 23.
It looks at what applicants have done in four areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.
Participants can earn bronze, silver or gold certificates and medals.
The award, he said, is a way to support students on their path to college and career, regardless of how they’re doing academically.
It’s what they do, as leaders in their communities, and not their GPA that counts the most, Kerins says.
What has wowed him the most about these up-and-comers is their ability to inspire other kids, and adults.
“They’re forming foundations of their own. It’s really quite impressive,” Kerins says.
And the ways they are using technology to explore and to educate others is also a big factor, says Kerins, pointing to 2018 gold medalist Brady Moon of Utah.
Moon, who volunteers at a senior center, biked all over his state using a GoPro to film its people and magnificent scenery.
“With a name like that, he was meant to be a star,” Kerins says.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
As STEAM-based industries grow, they are realizing that there simply aren’t enough people to fill the jobs that are out there now, much less 10 years from now.
“We know what the problem is. It’s been well defined and quantified by many organizations,” says Kerins. “We can sit around and complain about it, or we can do something.”
Bayer is somewhat ahead of the game. In 1995, it launched a program called “Making Science Make Sense” with the goal of getting a million children interested in the field by 2020.
More than 100 Bayer employees currently volunteer to visit schools where they guide hands-on science experiments.
It was not lost on Kerins that Somers may be the epicenter for the inquisitive generation.
A STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, arts, math) academy is being proposed for the former IBM campus off Route 100.
The Kerinses, former North Salem and New Jersey residents, moved to Somers about 11 years ago.
The Iona College grad said the town is filled “with so many good people who give of themselves every day.”
Although it may appear affluent to a lot of people, there are folks who are struggling. So organizations such as the Somers Education Foundation, Friends of Karen, the Lions Club, and its youth equivalent, the Leos, are vital to the health of the entire community he said.
Although he had to give up volunteering as a firefighter, he still misses the life and has great admiration for the folks who, he says, “get out of their nice, warm beds at 2 a.m. to help when someone’s house is on fire, or their car’s in a ditch.”
“I’m so glad we moved here, and I just want to play my part,” Kerins said.
He and Brenda make sure their children know the importance of sharing and caring as well.
Brenda, who Kerins calls “one of the smartest people” he knows, worked on Wall Street.
Then 9/11 came along and she shifted her entire focus to family.
And Kerins is grateful for that too.
“Without her love and support, I wouldn’t have the career I have today,” he says.
While the couple give their kids the time and space to connect with friends, they do not allow devices at the family dinner table.
Kerins admits the complicated etiquette behind social media makes growing up today is a lot tougher.
But, he says, with guidance kids will do just fine.
“We can all sit there and tell the youth want they’re doing wrong. But let’s celebrate what they’re doing right,” Kerins says.
A BIT MORE
Kerins was elected to the Congressional Award Foundation’s board with three others: Wei-Li Chong, president of a company that provides customized childcare; Larry Duncan, Lockheed Martin’s senior liaison to federal and state officials; and Missy Foxman, director of federal government relations for an entertainment software association.
“We are thrilled to welcome Larry, Missy, Ray, and Wei-Li to our leadership team and especially value
the industry experience each member brings,” said Paxton K. Baker, the board’s chairman, in a statement. “They join The Congressional Award at an exciting time as we continue to propel our mission forward and build corporate partnerships that help to enrich the lives of our nation’s youth.”
Kerins was vice president of external affairs and worldwide communications for Pfizer and executive director of public affairs for Merck & Co.
He was named “2017 Outstanding In-House Professional Award” by PRWeek Magazine.
He is also a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center.
He sponsors BLEND, an organization of Bayer’s LGBT community and BRAVE, which handle Bayer resources for employees who were members of the armed forces.
He was the head coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization.
In 2016, he was mentioned among the Top 50 most influential people in the health field by Medical, Marketing & Media magazine.
He is also the recipient of the US Centers for Disease Control’s service award.
On LinkedIn, a producer of medical conferences, described Kerins as “a rare leader who has been a major force for goodness.”
Another force is Luke Bryan, a country singer and songwriter, who travels around the country visiting farms and raising money for farmers.
Bayer, one of his sponsors, will donate a meal through “Feeding America: every time someone uses the hashtag #herestothefarmer on Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, Kerins says.
Kerins, a member of several press organizations, feels that people who believe in freedom of speech must support community journalism.
“I’ve been quoted on the front pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, but the most emails and calls I ever received were after I was mentioned in the local newspaper,” he said.