There are many reasons one might join a men’s group. The members of Engage’s Men’s Group have a variety of motivations to participate.
Barry Elkins, a business owner, had just moved to Manhattan from the suburbs and was looking for ways to connect and give back. Using his entrepreneurial skills and boundless energy, he immediately began looking for innovative projects for the group.
Barry Langer, a vice president at an engineering company, craved more balance in his life; he later realized that “this was the first time since college that [I] had a group of male friends.” Additionally, he wanted to make an impact. He leveraged his management experience to take on leadership roles and keep projects on track.
Fred Endelman’s main focus is on community service. He spearheaded a successful effort to expand the JASA Club 76 flea market by coordinating with a local Green Market, which greatly increased donations and profits. Fred says now he feels “more connected to the community, which makes [my] days more productive.”
Bob Grossweiner had “no idea” what he was looking for, but was open to trying something new when Rabbi Brian Fink recruited him to join the Men’s Group. That was over a year ago, and now he says he enjoys “giving back and meeting other men.”
Both Barrys, Fred, Bob, and the rest of the Men’s Group have launched community service projects, many of which have seen notable success. These men know how to plan, market, and implement their visions into reality. Then developed strategic partnerships with local volunteer organizations, such as NY Cares. The Men’s Group joined the NY Cares Day of Service and volunteered at low-income schools.
They also volunteer with Project ORE, a soup kitchen for at-risk Jews located on the Lower East Side, which the Engage Men’s Group visits periodically and for which they coordinate some special events, such as an annual barbecue. The group is also partnering with JASA Club 76 in an exciting pilot volunteer project called Tech Soup, which trains JASA 76 members to use their iPhones and iPads. They are also creating a wireless hotspot there to provide free Internet access for the seniors who eat lunch at the center.
While there are many reasons to join, the Men’s Group is more than the sum of its parts. The members’ common purpose and personal relationships have helped them develop a unique sense of community, committed to the group’s inspiring mission statement by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “The deepest wisdom man can attain is to know that his destiny is to aid, to serve.”
This article was originally published in the fall 2015 Engage Connect printed newsletter