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When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it changed Ray Ranger’s life. Based in the Big Easy, this director of health care markets for Billerica, Massachusetts-based Triple S became committed to serving others, especially children.   

“We were out of town when the hurricane hit but when we went back and saw the devastation, I just had to do something to help," Ranger recalls.  

Ranger joined a team of volunteers who navigated the high waters to locate families with kids stuck on rooftops and bring them to safety.  

“We helped them get to dry land, but then you start to think, ‘Once they’re off the roofs, then what? Where do they go?’” he recalls.  

The volunteers went on to provide food and refuge for the families, but Ranger never stopped his charitable acts. Seventeen years later, he is still actively helping children.  

“I’ve been involved in healthcare for over 40 years and have seen a lot of people in need, but the children are the ones I’ve really become engaged with,” Ranger says.  

He works very closely with Children’s Hospital in New Orleans with his volunteer partner Teensy Belle, a 5-pound Chihuahua rescue dog from Alabama who joined the family six years ago.  

 "[The volunteer gig] started because we had a young relative who was diagnosed with cancer. When she went to Children’s Hospital for treatment, I met with the infection preventionist who gave permission for Teensy Belle, a certified service dog, to come to the hospital with me,” Ranger recalls. “We would visit my young niece, but then end up sitting on the floor playing with other kids, too.”   

Now, the two of them visit kids in the hospital at least once a month — even during the pandemic (while in observance of hospital protocols). No surprise, the kids love Teensy Belle as much as Ranger does. 

“When they have a little 5-pound Chihuahua that sits with them, licks their faces and distracts them from their current health situations, it’s the best way to bring smiles to the kids’ faces,” says Rogers. “For me, that’s the biggest reward. I love children and when I see the health problems some of the kids are having, it breaks my heart. That’s what inspires me to reach out and help.” 

Rogers never looks at the volunteer work he does as anything other than rewarding.  

“I’m so humbled,” he says. “I wish other people would take the time and effort to help kids smile. Sometimes I look at it as fun. Maybe that’s selfish, but when I see a smile on any child’s face, it puts me in a good place.”