While other retirees are sunning themselves in warmer climates, Linda and Howard Simka are spending the arctic New York City winter engaged in helping others who are less fortunate.
In retirement, after raising a family in Brooklyn and working in business, the Simkas were looking for meaningful work to occupy their time and energy. And, as sometimes happens, the perfect thing just fell into their laps. At their Temple, they heard about a new venture—Engage Jewish Service Corps in Brooklyn—aimed at coordinating community projects for Brooklyn-based retirees to serve those in need.
On New Year’s Day, the Simkas and a group of Brooklyn Engage volunteers went to the Masbia Soup Kitchen (a restaurant-style non-sectarian soup kitchen serving food to the hungry), and helped with the preparation and serving of food, and with filling out the required paperwork for people to take home much-needed groceries to feed their families. They will probably never forget the appreciation of one particular mother with her three children who repeatedly blessed them for their kindness.
In their own words, after volunteering that day, they felt “high”—uplifted and energized with a real sense of satisfaction. This is an ongoing project and they have vowed that they will keep volunteering at the soup kitchen once a month—because the need is also ongoing.
The volunteer work helps them to appreciate how fortunate they are, with all they have, and all that they were able to work for and accomplish in their lives. Religious teachings all agree that a grateful person is a joyful person. This, I can attest to firsthand, after speaking with the Simkas (and, coincidentally, the word “simcha” in Hebrew means “joy”).
Linda and Howard have spent their entire lives in Brooklyn and have been involved with working for their temple for over 20 years. And now—in addition—they are active members of the growing Engage Jewish Service Corps in Brooklyn. They have found their place in the community and are role models for other retirees who seek to remain healthy, happy, active, and “engaged.”