Jon D. Lumbra, CFO and Vice President of Administration at The Dowd Agencies, jumped in in with both feet to support the mission of Pathlight and its programs. In just a few months, Jon demonstrated what a motivated volunteer can accomplish, starting with helping to  secure a leading sponsorship for one of our premiere galas and serving as a spokesperson on local television for the event, then becoming the newest member of the Pathlight Board of Directors. We asked Jon to talk about what motivated him to support Pathlight’s mission and how others can get involved.

When did you first learn of our program(s)?
Six years ago when our oldest daughter was first diagnosed with autism at UMass Memorial Hospital, the doctor gave us the contact information for Autism Connections.

Describe what it meant to you and your family?
Our introduction to the program was a little overwhelming at first as we were still processing the diagnosis. Our first encounters were about getting us educated on this new world and what was available to us. As time passed we have used Autism Connections to find support groups and alternative activities for Sophia.

I know your daughter is also participating in some programs at Whole Children in Hadley—how has that experience been?
We have participated in the Monday night Gymnastics classes for the last three sessions. While it’s clear to us that Sophia loves the one-on-one attention she gets there, the bigger take away for us is the importance of the outside-of-school peer interactions and the time it gives us to discuss current issues and events with parents who may be in a similar situations. Sometimes just being able to vent to a person who has walked in your shoes is comforting.

You were able to get your company involved with one of our signature fundraising events supporting Autism Connections. What do you feel helped you make your case to support our mission?
Since first learning of Autism Connections we have tried to attend the Stepping Out gala to show our support and help in some small way to raise much needed funding dollars. This year when the annual ask went out I approached the Dowd Agencies Board of Directors and made a pitch to be a Diamond Sponsor.  It didn’t take much to convince them that this was the right thing to do. Our service areas are alike, our philosophy on giving back to the community is alike, and at the end of the day we at the Dowd family want to be role models for other successful businesses to step up and help those at home who need it in some way.

What are some parting words for other local business leaders to get involved?
I remember that moment, as if it was yesterday, when the doctor said that Sophia had autism. My wife and I are fortunate that we have a great support system in place, full of family and friends. Both of our employers are generous to us, not only allowing us the extra time needed for IEP meetings, follow up medical appointments, and therapies, but also with their financial support to such great organizations like Autism Connections and Pathlight. A little funding can go a long way when we all pull together. If you operate a business in the valley and are making a profit, consider giving some of it back to the community that purchased your goods and got you that profit to start with. The best sales tool any successful business person can have is “Goodwill.”

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