You had a very long and successful career in finance and General Management. In your 60’s you made a big decision to completely “rewire” into a very busy and productive life of volunteering and service to others.
What was behind that decision, and had you always been involved in some type of volunteer work?
When I was planning for what I call “What’s Next” in my life when I reached my 50’s I consulted many friends and family members and the feedback I got was “Do something you like, not what you need to do” I was fortunate to work for a fantastic company that provided both professional and financial rewards. I had a few outside business venture interests that rewarded me quite well, so financially I was always sound. I was able to move into another phase of my life without financial concerns. As an active person I liked doing things with my hands and always liked building and fixing things in my two homes. In life, it is too easy to call someone to fix things but I chose the course of being a DIY person, and smart enough to know when to call someone when the project was beyond my skill set. My personality has always been outgoing and engaging with others, and I enjoy helping others. One day I was at my local library and an organization called “Rebuilding Together Long Island” had a table and I was curious about what they do. It was the perfect marriage of helping people and using my hands, and I jumped in to join. For the last 5 years, I have been involved in fixing people’s homes from putting in handicap ramps, fixing doors, plumbing work, new flooring; every day we find a way of helping people that need free home repairs and they are beyond thankful for what we do for them to make their lives better. Today I am one of 15 members of our group and I have made new friends who truly enjoy each other’s company and helping people. My motto is “We don’t judge, we just make life better for people” .
I was elected to the Board of Directors three years ago so I also get to use my Financial and Management skills still; I guess it is hard to escape your past fully but I don’t mind.
One of your most rewarding experiences has been in Rebuilding Together Long Island. Tell us about that effort and what it has meant to you?
Some people need a hand in life and my group offers just that. People are aging in place these days and can not afford to make necessary home repairs to ensure a safe and healthy environment. That is where we come in where we make home repairs at no cost when it involves health and safety. If a home needs a fire alarm, grab bars, exhaust fan, or a door widened for a wheelchair we do it with a smile on our faces knowing that we have made someone’s life a bit easier. Most people don’t know where to go for help and when they contact us we jump in. After every job we complete we get a smile and a thank you and that is what motivates me. It is simple to be a good human being. All you have to do is offer a helping hand.
Some would say that you are a “volunteer multi-tasker” as you are involved in many other nonprofit activities too. What are they? Do you see yourself staying involved in service for the rest of your life?
Besides “Rebuilding Together Long Island” I volunteer for 2 other groups in which I am passionate about.
“Friend’s of America’s Vet Dogs” are a group of 30 people that fundraise in order to supply Support Dogs to Veterans in need. I have been involved in this group for the last 5 years and we have supplied over 31 Support Dogs to Vets in need. In fact, we supplied “Sully” to the late President Bush which I could not be more excited about. We are affiliated with America’s Vet Dogs and the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown, NY. We run many fundraisers during the year from auctions to raffle sales and solicit general donations at local events and fairs.
The 3rd thing I do is I am a roving mentor and national judge for a High School course called “Virtual Enterprises” which covers over 500 high schools across the USA and many overseas high schools. The course is that the high school students create a business in every phase and develop a product and market their businesses and buy and sell their products in a virtual environment. The fun for me is that I give students a sense of the real world of business and help them get engaged in the business world.
If you are interested in making a commitment to volunteering and service like Steve, read this story.