Marjorie volunteering 

Marjorie volunteering 

1.     Tell us a bit about your background.

I am a native New Yorker, but five years after earning a master's degree in special education/learning disabilities at Michigan State, I moved to Paris for 31 years. In Paris, I became a technical communicator. A technical communicator writes manuals and online help for software users. They make information more usable and accessible to those who need it. I returned to NY in 2007, but with a son in NY and a daughter in Paris, I have one foot on each side of the Atlantic!

2.      How did you first become interested in the JCC Engage volunteer program?

As a JCC member, I read about the formation of Engage and started attending meetings. I was hooked. When I retired in 2016, I knew that Engage would be an important part of my life. The opportunities available were numerous and varied; meetings and cultural outings enabled social events. Engage is a one-stop shop.

3.      What are some of your Engage activities?  Any you find particularly interesting?

I volunteer weekly at the Hebrew Free Burial Association (HFBA), which guarantees that Jews who do not have the money or family to pay for a funeral are buried according to Jewish law. I help the office manager with administrative and operational tasks, like reaching out to nursing homes about HFBA services. 

For the past two years, I have been the “orange peeler and slicer” for the JCC Cancer Spa Day, and have also volunteered at the Goddard Riverside Book Fair, the back-to-school event sponsored by National Council of Jewish Women and Bottomless Closet. This year, I participated in the New York Cares Day for Schools, and I hope to become more involved with immigrants facing deportation.

4.      What would you say to encourage potential volunteers?

The reward from volunteering is immeasurable. There are a variety of opportunities, single or ongoing, on weekdays or weekends. At monthly meetings, organizations are often invited to explain the opportunities available so you can easily find what might be right for you.

5.      Are you involved in any non-Engage activities that people may not know about?

One cannot live in France for 30 years and not love to cook and eat—and I enjoy both! Inviting friends to dinner and enjoying good conversation, food, and wine is my idea of a great evening. Since retiring, theater has also become part of my life and I have joined several off-Broadway theater groups. 


  Engage Brooklyn volunteer Marilyn Duckoff, center.

Engage Brooklyn volunteer Marilyn Duckoff, center.

1.  Tell us a bit about your background.
I’m a Brooklyn native—although I’ve also lived in other boroughs and even Puerto Rico—and I have two terrific children in their 30s.  Professionally, I worked as a language pathologist for preschoolers through Long Island College Hospital, and with visually impaired children at Helen Keller Preschool and The Lighthouse Child Development Center 

2.  How did you first become interested in the JCC Engage volunteer program? 
After retiring in 2014, I was looking for a rewarding way to fill my time.  A friend of mine told me about Engage and referred me to Susan Kranberg, assistant director for the Engage Jewish Service Corps. She got me started with the Selfhelp Coffee House program for Holocaust survivors, and that experience sold me on Engage.  The Coffee House people are amazing, thankful, and love life.  And the other volunteers are a friendly, welcoming group. 

3.  What are some of your Engage activities?  Any you find particularly interesting?
I’m active with the Met Council on Jewish Poverty services, including food distribution for low-income elderly in both Brooklyn and Manhattan during the year and at Passover.  But the Selfhelp Coffee House is my favorite.  After we prepare and serve lunch, there’s music and we all dance together.  We sing "Hatikva" and "God Bless America."  They sing with all their heart and know all the words.  It gets you in a place you didn’t know you had.  

4.  Any non-Engage activities that people may not know about you?
 I go folk dancing once a week with The Brooklyn Heights Folk Dancers, and I also volunteer in Manhattan at the Museum of Natural History’s education program for school kids who visit the museum.

5.  What would you say to encourage potential volunteers?
The reward is worth 200 times more than the few weekly hours of time spent.  It makes you feel so good.  It makes you feel wonderful.