It came as no surprise to the friends and family of Dr. Henry Lesieur when he chose to volunteer for the Red Cross in 2012. In fact, they expected it and fully supported his decision. As a life-long educator and practitioner, Dr. Lesieur came to the Red Cross with an extensive history of helping others. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, he became a professor of Sociology at St. John’s University (1978-1992). The functions of a Sociologist are to study the development, structure, and interaction of organized human groups, thus perfectly aligning Dr. Lesieur’s educational background with the Red Cross mission. With a desire to personally develop, he accepted the prominent position as Chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Illinois State University (1992-97). After many years of working in education, he decided to further advance his studies and went on to receive his Psy.D. from William James College in Newton, MA. This steered him to become a clinical Psychologist for Rhode Island Hospital in Providence for 12 years where he finished off his illustrious career. Although officially retired, Dr. Lesieur continues to offer consulting and training within the subject of mental health from a home-office setting.
Dr. Lesieur is assigned to T6 of the Rhode Island chapter and serves in the areas of Mental Health, Disaster Response, Regional Sheltering for East Providence/Providence, and the Steering Committee. If that’s not enough, he has three national deployments to his credit. His latest deployment brought him to Texas in the immediate aftermath of devastating tornadoes that ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area in late 2015. Accompanied by torrential rain, damaging winds, and flooding, the storms were part of a massive weather system that spread destruction across 6 states. Dr. Lesieur was stationed with mental health and attached to the Multi-Agency Resource Center in Garland Texas, a hard-hit area that saw eight fatalities, several injured, and nearly 600 structures destroyed. His professional background was tapped as he helped countless clients cope with the ever-present wreckage. He recalls helping a woman who was trapped in her home during the height of the storms and was woefully distressed. “She was having trouble coping with the destruction so I referred her over to Mental Health Services of Texas,” says Dr. Lesieur. Furthermore, he was given the opportunity to work directly with many of the clients’ children. The sheer chaos of the rescue and recovery efforts disrupted their daily lives causing many to act out and rebel. Although a mental health specialist, he selflessly assisted the feeding teams on their patrols and used this time as an opportunity to further seek out anyone in need. Dr. Lesieur’s dedication to the causes the Red Cross so proudly affirms is evident in his relatively short time as a volunteer.
On a personal note, Dr. Lesieur has been married to his wife Helen for 47 years. Together they have two adult children and one grandson; their son Matthew lives in New York while their daughter Bethany and nine year-old grandson currently reside in California. When not volunteering, Dr. Lesieur enjoys square-dancing with Helen, practicing yoga, and appreciating the performing arts.
Dr. Lesieur’s continued focus on helping others is empowering for anyone who wishes to do more. He is living proof that balancing a personal life and business endeavors with far-reaching volunteer efforts is entirely possible. His dedication to his family, his clients, and the Red Cross is proof-positive that he means what he says. In the words of Dr. Lesieur himself, “We must practice what we preach.”