“When I first signed up to volunteer to tutor kids, they were shocked at my three-digit tutor number,” says Suvendoo Ray, RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) member, who began volunteering when he retired last year.
When he originally arrived in Seattle in 1987 before his 32-year career at Boeing took off, Suvendoo started volunteering with the Youth Tutoring Program (YTP), and he reconnected with YTP after he retired last year. “I really enjoy tutoring kids, because I have seen a lot of things around the world – and these kids have seen different things – and I see it as a back-and-forth discussion where we can learn from each other.”
Sarah Johnson, YTP’s Volunteer Coordinator & Lake Washington Center Supervisor, says, “Suvendoo is a great tutor, and we are lucky to have him here supporting our students. He has been an incredibly dedicated tutor to two brothers at Lake Washington. The students are always very excited and enthusiastic to work with him. He seems to have built up a great rapport with his two students and is always interested in learning more about how to support them with our program.
“His first week, he told us about his initial involvement with YTP and how great of an experience he had. There are some new or returning tutors that are a bit apprehensive with working with groups, and it is great to see their group working and enjoying their sessions together. He is also flexible with supporting other students whenever his students are absent, and always has great questions or anecdotes to share.”
“I really enjoy tutoring kids, because I have seen a lot of things around the world – and these kids have seen different things – and I see it as a back-and-forth discussion where we can learn from each other.” ~Suvendoo Ray, RSVP Volunteer & Ambassador
Suvendoo has seen the world, both in his professional and personal lives. He grew up in a farming village on the east coast of India and has always loved airplanes. “Every time I saw a plane, I went nuts,” he recalls. Planes were constantly flying over his home as a child on their route to Singapore. “The first thing I can remember in my whole life is pointing up to the sky and asking what that thing in the sky flying over was. I believe everything in my life worked out the way it did because of that captivation I had as a little guy. I have always known that planes were things I wanted to design, build, and sell.”
His parents took him to New York in the mid ‘70s; his father was a professor at the University of New York. After completing high school in Albany, Suvendoo earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degrees in Aeronautics at Purdue University in Indiana. As part of his doctoral studies, he worked for the Air Force and NASA as a researcher. He graduated with his PhD at age 25 and moved to Seattle to work at Boeing in 1987.
Suvendoo also received his MBA in Finance from Seattle University. During his 32 years with Boeing, he worked in various programs. Suvendoo was involved in the engineering of nearly every plane Boeing built. He moved into sales in 1996 and retired in 2019. “That’s why I’ve seen the whole world.”
Now that he’s not working 12-hour days or traveling the world every month for 10 days at a time, he’s jumped into volunteering just as intensely as he did in his working life. He describes himself as target driven, writing sticky notes with tasks to complete daily, even after retiring, “though the things on them do look a bit different now.”
Suvendoo had been looking for volunteering options for a while after retiring, but many opportunities had specific niches that, while good causes, didn’t allow him to explore the way he had wanted. “I found out about RSVP through my retirement coach. RSVP really works for me because it had so many opportunities in one place. I found everything I wanted to do. It was like shopping at Costco.”
“I found out about RSVP through my retirement coach. RSVP really works for me because it had so many opportunities in one place. I found everything I wanted to do. It was like shopping at Costco.” ~Suvendoo Ray
He also uses his experience building and repairing homes as a hobby with Habitat for Humanity. He volunteers weekly both building houses and helping at their store in Southcenter. “I really like tools, furniture – things for homes that you then sell.”In addition to volunteering at the Youth Tutoring Program, he transports clients with Catholic Community Services (CCS)’s Volunteer Services – although during the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he only did medication pickups for CCS clients – and he is looking forward to getting started with Solid Ground’s Community Food Education program.
Finding Habitat projects to work on in Seattle is a challenge because of the high cost of construction. “Often, you have to go far north or far south from the city, so I really jump on projects when they are in the Seattle area. I really enjoy fixing up people’s houses – the details like moldings, framing, painting – so if that’s a need, I’ll be there. I love working with my hands.”
In addition to volunteering, you can find Suvendoo on a golf course, watching sports of all kinds, gardening, or doing yardwork.
Both his children live in Los Angeles: his son earned an undergraduate degree in aerospace from the University of Washington and now works for SpaceX. His daughter graduated from UCLA and is a middle school teacher in an underserved neighborhood, because “that’s what she wants to do and where she felt she had the most to offer,” Suvendoo says proudly.
Suvendoo is brimming with excitement about volunteerism and RSVP in particular. “I think if we can get people who are interested in volunteering connected with RSVP in a consistent, effective way, people will see all the opportunities to choose from and they won’t have to go hunting around.” He identifies his main skill as motivating people – “I was the #1 guy between my company and the customers, so I’m a bridge between interest or need and what people have to offer.”
We are so glad to have him as an RSVP Ambassador and as an enthusiastic volunteer in so many areas of our community.