Looking at Bradford Leach, it is easy to be struck by his first impression as a savvy businessman: He is vice president of the Pacific Region of Reit Management & Research LLC and an avid outdoorsman - he lists hiking, surfing and photography among his passions. But take a closer look, and you’ll discover that he is a selfless individual who values his family first and foremost.
“I have three younger sisters, so I try to set a good example,” laughs the exuberant 29-year-old. “People also have their certain idols; I’ve always looked up to my dad. If I can grow up and have a family like my father and my mother, I’ll be a very happy person.”
Both of his parents, Randol and Kristen, actually led him down the volunteer path in his early boyhood. Leach remembers standing alongside his dad during the Honolulu Marathon to help hand out water to runners. He also recalls being part of various beach and trail cleanups as a Boy Scout. During his college days at USC, he could be found cleaning beaches as part of the Earth Resource Foundation. After returning to Hawaii, he also became active in Rotaract (Rotarians 18-30 years old), the Boys & Girls Club and Safe Haven, an outreach program that offers transition residence for persons who are homeless and have mental illnesses.
“I think people only see the bad stories about people who have mental health problems,” he says. “When you really look into it, you realize how many people are affected by these problems who are your friends, your family, your ohana, your neighbors. Just because someone has schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder, doesn’t mean they’re not a part of society.”
His dedication has most recently been put into Mental Health Kokua and its upcoming “A Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness,” a multimedia exhibit by acclaimed photographer Michael Nye. The free exhibit begins Thursday (May 15) and continues through the end of the month at Honolulu Academy of Arts. Visit www.mentalhealthkokua.org for more information.
“I’ve been lucky enough in my life to have a couple breaks. I try to give back and volunteer as much as possible,” he explains. “I think too many people here take what we have for granted and do not spend any time giving back to the community where they came from. It’s like JFK’s line - ‘It’s not what your country can do for you, it’s what you can do for your country’ - but it’s sort of like, ‘it’s not what your friends and family can do for you, but what you can do for them.’ I wish more people would get involved and give back.”
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