October 22nd was a rainy, raw afternoon but the weather did not deter over 20 people from attending the open house for the launch of Engage Brooklyn. The Engage Jewish Service Corps is designed to bring baby boomers, ages 50, 60 and beyond together to meet the needs of the Jewish community in the greater New York area. The initial Engage regions included JCCs in Manhattan, Westchester, and Long Island/Queens. However, the JCC Manhattan program recently expanded to Brooklyn to meet the unique needs of that community. Brooklyn has the highest Jewish poverty rate (38%) of any borough in New York.
Susan Kranberg, the Community Organizer for Engage Brooklyn, warmly greeted all of the participants and made everybody feel at home. Of course, no event would be complete without food, and Susan outdid herself in providing beverages and yummy snacks. Two volunteers from Engage Manhattan, Lola Greene and Annette Weiss shared what brought them to Engage.
For Annette, it was being unexpectedly being laid off after many years with a major market research firm. She was looking for a place to connect while giving back to the community. She attended the first Engage open house in the fall of 2013 and heard about two volunteer led projects that resonated; the Engage Memory Book Project and the Engage Volunteer Communications Team. Annette has been a major force in shaping both of these efforts.
With Annette’s and Lola’s remarks as an icebreaker, conversation flowed freely as people shared their backgrounds and interests. One common thread was that people are looking for a sense of community as they transition from one phase of their lives to another, while giving back to those in need.
Posters situated around the room provided people the opportunity to sign up for volunteer opportunities that they might be interested in. One of the participants suggested providing financial literacy classes for immigrants and first generation families in need in Brooklyn. With ideas like these, Engage is off to a great start in Brooklyn.
If you would like to find out how you can participate in Engage Brooklyn, contact Susan Kranberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also encourage you to comment below if you'd like to see more articles about the progress of Engage Brooklyn, and to share this article on Facebook and Twitter, etc.