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.