Although still working hard as a senior manager at an environmental engineering firm, Barry Langer also volunteers at Project ORE, a kosher soup kitchen at the Educational Alliance. With his co-leader, Herb Brinker, Mr. Langer and others from the Engage Men’s Group assist in serving the meals to people who come to the soup kitchen for meals and actively engage them in conversation.
“The people we serve are men and women over the age of 55 who are at-risk,” Mr. Langer said. “We always bear in mind that they are well-educated, but due to difficult circumstances, some have lost their bearings.”
Established in 1987, Project ORE serves emergency kosher meals, provides counseling, case management, and other support services to isolated, poor, homeless, and mentally ill Jews. It is the only program of its kind in New York City. “Project ORE offers community meals including a buffet breakfast, hot lunch, and food packages for Shabbat,” said Tara Rullo, who oversees the program.
“I find my involvement with Project ORE to be life-balancing,” said Mr. Langer. “Although I do enjoy helping the clients at Project ORE, I also personally benefit from this experience. In the back of my mind I always think, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’”
Mr. Brickner shares these sentiments. “In my heart I know this could happen to anyone.” Both gentlemen have become fast friends and have also bonded with the other members of the Engage Men's Group. Beyond the charitable work that they have undertaken, the group has become very close-knit.
“We’ve also come up with special projects for Project ORE; such as a BBQ this past Sukkot, a coat drive that collected 20 coats for men and women, and we bought and assembled a food pantry,” Mr. Langer said.
They are planning two trips in the coming months to attend a movie together and a museum visit. Walter Kin, another member of the Men’s Group, will be leading a dance program starting in March as well.