On June 7, Engage volunteers gathered at JCC Manhattan for the third annual Engage Volunteer Recognition Dinner. "A great deal has changed since the first dinner three years ago," said Margie Stern, the volunteer leader of the event's planning team.
The team began work in January, and its hard work was evident throughout the evening. As guests entered, they were greeted with a healthy buffet, pleasing to the eye and palate, organized by Bob Friedlander, who stood close by. "The best part is standing here and just saying hello to people," he said.
While past volunteer recognition events were filled with groups of relative strangers, this year there were groups of friends and familiar faces. And just to make sure everyone participated, Jeri Krassner added some ice-breakers, including having guests write their favorite Engage activities on their name tags and encouraging them to talk to people they did not know.
Rabbi Brian Fink saluted all the volunteers for the wonderful work they have done this year. "It was a year of growth," he said, pointing out that over 350 unique Engage participants have volunteered this year, partnering with over 40 agencies throughout New York City. Brian also welcomed Susan Kranberg, Engage community organizer, who highlighted the efforts contributed by the Engage volunteers from Brooklyn who attended the event.
One of the evening’s highlights was the remarks by Marcie Imberman, chair of the Committee on Aging, part of the Caring Commission of UJA-Federation of New York. She greeted everyone and explained how the committee’s goals of "harnessing the skills of baby boomers to create a volunteer initiative that serves the community and builds community among the participants" are being realized through Engage. "Tonight we celebrate your dedication and vitality," she said. "Without your ongoing efforts, we have a less caring, colder world." Finally, Marcie thanked Brian Fink, Susan Kranberg, Dava Schub, and Susan Lechter for their commitment and creativity, which has helped Engage achieve its third successful year.
Following the remarks, singer, songwriter, and playwright David Ippolito took the stage. His performance was thanks to Engage volunteer Merle Lefkowitz, who handled the entertainment for the evening. It did not take long for everyone to join David in favorite songs from Denver to Dylan, concluding the evening with everyone humming the tunes as they left.