New York City

Judy Willett

Prior to joining ReServe, Judy served as National Director of Village to Village (VtV) Network, a peer- to-peer nonprofit that helps communities develop and run “Villages” across the country. Villages are consumer-driven nonprofits that help people age 50+ remain in their own homes, in their own communities. Under Judy’s leadership the VtV Network built membership in the Village Movement nationally from 0 to 30,000 members with 160 open Villages in 40 States, and 120 Villages in development.

Before that, Judy was Founding Executive Director of Beacon Hill Village in Boston, the first Village in the U.S.

Q: You recently joined ReServe. What are your impressions of it so far?

A: I am so delighted to be part of ReServe Greater Boston and the national ReServe movement. Using talented professionals to help better our communities is one of the most important things that we as a society can be doing.

Q: What are your priorities and vision for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: The people who founded ReServe Greater Boston, previous director Carol Greenfield, staff, advisory council and board have all done such a stellar job. I hope to be able to take it to the next level, to expand opportunities with important nonprofits and partners, and to really help to expand nationally the whole idea of the ReServe approach and encore careers.

Q: What do you see as some of your biggest challenges in accomplishing your goals for ReServe Greater Boston?

A: One of the main issues is ageism. We live in a youth-oriented culture that often looks at middle-aged and older people as liabilities, not assets. It is critical that we all work together to change that attitude, which limits the opportunities that are available to older individuals.  We have to make sure that people really value the experience and professionalism that people 55+ bring to the business world, and get the message out that ReServe offers an excellent opportunity for nonprofits to fill gaps in staffing from this amazing talent pool.

Q: Tell us about your background and interest in aging.

A: I have always enjoyed working with people of all ages, but chose to focus on working with the Baby Boom and elder Generations. I have a Masters Degree in Social Work/Gerontology from Boston University, and about 14 years ago I helped to found  Beacon Hill Village, to help launch a movement to help people stay in their homes and communities, and lead rich, expansive and impactful lives.

Q: Your work with Village to Village Network seems well aligned with what ReServe is doing. Can you tell us about that?

A: The VtV Network helps groups of people and nonprofits start their own Villages. It is really a nonprofit that is dedicated to offering anything and everything that people want and need to help them stay in their homes and communities for the rest of their lives. It provides connections to volunteers, exercise classes, personal trainers, transportation, meals, computer classes, and more.

Over the years many Village members would call and say that they wanted to work part time and give back to the community, and we often referred them to ReServe. I had worked with Carol and knew about ReServe for many years.

Boston, Featured

Not only are ReServists talented and experienced, they are also versatile and love a challenge.

Nora has been a ReServist for nearly two years, and is presently
working with the nonprofit American Friends of Jordan River Village (AFJRV).  Nora’s background was in office management at a real estate investment company where she worked as an executive assistant to the president/owner.  She took her administrative, organizational and bookkeeping skills and segued them into the position posted by ReServe Partner AFJRV.  “Nora is amazing,” Executive Director Gail Androphy of AFJRV told us.  Nora was able to assess the organization’s bookkeeping situation even before she started working there. When she came in she was able to “clean up our financial picture,” according to Gail.

Nora is Bookkeeper/Administrator and is considered the engine that makes the organization run efficiently. AFJRV has a virtual office .. that is to say, officers and staff work from various home locations throughout the Northeast.  Nora works out of New York City.  She is a trusted and valued member of the team, and records donations, keeps the books current and accurate, handles the mail, writes out checks for the ED to sign, and much more as needs arise. The primary contact between all staff is email and phone, and if necessary on occasion, they meet in person.  Nora is so pleased that AFJRV appreciates her work – “They are such good people.” The feeling is mutual.

ReServe is proud of the successful match of Nora and AFJRV.  This is just one of many success stories in our ten years of existence.  According to Gail, who described her experience with ReServe as “wonderful top to bottom,”  ReServe was helpful in finding AFJRV the candidate who’s the right fit for the role. In addition, Gail found in Nora the qualifications they were seeking: expertise in administration, accounting background, and she was “patient with us.”

Written by Cristina Pastor

Featured, New York City

Meet Judge Monica Drinane, the newest member of the ReServe Board of Directors! Judge Drinane most recently served as the Supervising Judge of the Bronx Family Court.  She retired from the bench in late 2014, and driven by a passionate commitment to support educational opportunities for youth and young adults, joined the ReServe board.  Judge Drinane began her career as a teacher for inner city youth in New Haven, CT., and later returned to New York to study law at NYU and begin a career in juvenile justice. She served for eight years as the attorney in charge of the Juvenile Rights Division for the Legal Aid Society, and in 2004 was appointed Judge for Family Court in the Bronx, where she heard cases involving neglect, abuse, domestic violence, custody, visitation and delinquency issues. In 2007, she was appointed Supervising Judge of Bronx Family Court.

Judge Drinane has an abiding interest in supporting and advocating on behalf of youth in care and seeking alternatives to school suspensions.  She currently serves on the Leadership Council for South Bronx Rising Together and The Commission on School to Prison Pipeline.  At ReServe, she is using her prodigious energy and talents to help us develop and strengthen our education programs, and is leveraging her city and statewide contacts on our behalf.  Judge Drinane is a tireless advocate for youth and young adults, and we are honored to have her serve on our board!

Featured, News

We are pleased to announce the third annual Summer Seniors Employment Program (SSEP). Sponsored by West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) in partnership with ReServe – a NYC nonprofit that places professionals age 55+ with nonprofits, government agencies and community organizations that need their expertise – SSEP connects residents of Community District 9 with local part-time, paid positions that serve and benefit their community.

SSEP is a win-win for the West Harlem community. For residents, this is a great opportunity to remain active over the summer of 2015 and to utilize your talents and develop new skills, while earning $10/hour for up to 120 hours. For local nonprofits, SSEP is a great resource to engage community members to work on vital projects at no cost to the organization.

“For the third year in a row, our partnership with ReServe, will allow us to make a difference in the lives of West Harlem seniors,” said Dean Morris, Director of Programs for WHDC. “We value ReServe’s expertise in helping us deliver a program that’s having not only economic impacts but social/emotional impacts as well. Every year the program becomes more popular and is highly anticipated.”

“Through ReServe’s innovating matching strategy and expertise in engaging older professionals for part-time service work, ReServe is poised to help WHDC expand its impact in West Harlem and throughout New York City,” said Christine McMahon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fedcap.

Over the past 2 summers SSEP has placed 138 individuals with over 30 organizations, resulting in 19,200 hours of service. This year’s goal, supported by a $216,000 grant from West Harlem Development Corp., is to place 100 senior residents of Community District 9 in part-time community-based jobs.

Participants must be 55 years of age or older, reside in West Harlem’s Community District 9, and be committed to serving their community while earning a stipend of $10/hour. ReServe and WHDC will host information sessions, which are mandatory for new program participants. The sessions are:

  • Thursday, April 23, 1:30pm – 3:00pm at Hamilton Grange Library, 503 W. 145th St. – Auditorium
  • Tuesday, April 28, 12:00pm – 1:30pm at George Bruce Library, 518 W. 125th St. – Auditorium. Both sessions will include Spanish translation.

To register for a participant information session or to learn more about the program email sreserve@westharlemdc.org or call 646-476-3394, ext. 201.

If your organization is interested in participating as an SSEP host site, please contact Noelle Minter at nminter@fedcap.org or call 646-412-6502.

Events, Featured, New York City, News

ReServe has rolled out a series of monthly workshop to bring additional value to the ReServe community.

The ReServED initiative seeks to provide ReServists with resources beyond work placements. Each month in 2015, ReServe will sponsor an interactive, thought-provoking lecture or workshop related to continued participation in community life and/or the workforce.

“The idea behind ReServED is to strengthen the community that already exists among ReServists and our partner organizations,” said Noelle Minter, ReServe Assistant Director. “Through ReServED, ReServists can strengthen their skills and address various issues pertaining to returning to the workforce.’

On January 22nd, the ReServED monthly workshop series kicked off with an exclusive look into AARP’s new Life Reimagined program. ReServe partnered with AARP to offer three Life Reimagined workshops in January at AARP’s office in Midtown Manhattan. Life Reimagined is about opening the door to new possibilities, and the workshops provide participants with tools, resources and inspirational content to help them decide what to do in the next stages of their lives.

Workshop facilitator William Hamer, a nonprofit development executive who has been through the Life Reimagined program, praised the efforts of ReServe and AARP in presenting the workshops.

“ReServe and Life Reimagined are a perfect marriage,” he said. “ReServists are exploring new possibilities and looking to give back, and Life Reimagined lets them take a deeper look at their passions and commitments, while helping them stay connected to people who are having the same experience.”

During the workshop participants introduced themselves and talked about “triggers,” or events that drive major life changes. Some reported feeling stuck. Others wanted to develop new skills or pursue interests and passions they never had time for. Some talked about losing loved ones or jobs, and becoming ReServists to give back to the community.

“Triggers can be a launching point for new possibilities,” Hamer said. “Reimagining ourselves can help us understand our purpose in life.”
For the next ReServED workshop, over 60 people gathered at Fedcap headquarters on February 19 to hear author and activist Ashton Applewhite discuss ageism, and common misperceptions related to age and aging. Applewhite is the author of a terrific blog, Yo, is this Ageist? and a presentation, This Chair Rocks, that dispels myths about the later stages of life.

In an era of longer life expectancy, chronological age is less of an indicator of what individuals are truly capable of. Applewhite dispelled myths about aging and mobility, memory, sex and intimacy, and the belief that health care costs for the elderly are always higher. Only about three percent of the approximately 4,800 people over the age of 65 who pass away every day in the United States incurred medical costs that are considered very expensive.

“In a political system that doesn’t way to pay for the health care of its most vulnerable citizens, the greatest worry for people who are aging is becoming a burden to family,” she said.

Applewhite offered some wonderful tips to the enthusiastic audience. We are all older persons in training, she said, as she asked them to visualize their 90-year-old selves, and then imagine their current selves walking into the room. What would the elder self say to the younger? Probably you would tell them to take risks, travel, go to shows, use your imagination and pursue your passions.

“We need to overturn the notion that for two-thirds of our life we are in decline,” she said. “The more you understand about aging the more accepting you are of older people.”

Featured, Press

Jerry Wheelock

ReServist Jerry Wheelock was born in Uxbridge, MA. His family has owned and operated textile mills since the 1700s and he’s always been expert at designing and fixing things. His first job after college was designing and building water purification equipment.

In the early 1980s Jerry began building jigs, fixtures and other adaptive equipment for sheltered workshops at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Boston, the first in a worldwide Goodwill network that today includes 165 organizations in the United States and Canada and 14 affiliates in 13 countries. The modified workplace equipment brought higher wages and job satisfaction to the clients.

“We produced so much material that the whole manual payroll system crashed because people became so much more efficient,” Jerry said.

At Goodwill Jerry applied his skills to information technology. He installed a computer network, server and phone systems, and digitized the agency’s complex sheltered workshop payroll system. He aggregated budget and sales data for reporting, designed data conversion tools, negotiated purchases of PCs for the $18 million agency and taught staff how to use spreadsheets and customized software. One computer training project that he created was so successful that the sheltered workshop began providing mail room services to commercial enterprises.

Jerry had several roles at Goodwill over 14 years, finishing as Director of Management Information Services for Goodwill, while also earning graduate degrees in computer science and vocational rehabilitation.

Beginning in 1995 Jerry worked for Fidelity Investments as Principal Systems Engineer. He led numerous implementation, design and deployment projects, worked with international teams on security patching policies and coordinated the updating of over 50,000 computers on a monthly basis for the company’s global employment base.

When Fidelity began moving jobs to North Carolina and Dallas in 2012, Jerry and his wife, a Russian History professor at MIT, decided to stay put. In January 2013 Jerry heard about ReServe, and was impressed by its project orientation and stipend arrangement.

“The nonprofit has to have some skin in the game,” he said. “I found with volunteering that not every organization puts in the effort.”

Jerry’s first ReServist placement was as Database Manager and Salesforce Specialist for Boston Education, Skills &Training (BEST) Corp., a nonprofit focused on workforce development that is funded by the Greater Boston Hospitality Employees (GBHE) /Local 26 Trust Fund and a number of private, state and federal funders. The agency operates a Hospitality Training Center (HTC) that offers English language classes as well as a range of certification skills training. In January 2008, HTC opened a Tech Center that offers computer classes.

Joan Abbot

Joan Abbot, BEST’s Assistant Director, Hospitality Training Center, said that no one on the agency’s small staff had the skills to manage the database. Whenever a report was needed high-priced consultants had to be called in to pull it together. With new funders coming on board and a critical need for customized up-to-date reporting – and the database in chaos – the situation was untenable.

“We had no one devoted to data,” Joan said. “We clearly needed a new system.” Starting in February 2013 Jerry began researching replacement systems and vetting IT services firms. Based on his recommendations BEST Corp. hired a company to replace its existing systems with a Salesforce cloud-based CRM platform, while Jerry led a massive effort to clean up the database and develop a new reporting strategy. He worked closely with Union Trust Fund managers and funders to understand the agency’s service and demographic mix, and engaged with funders to clarify reporting needs.

Once Salesforce was up and running Jerry imported the cleaned up data into the new system. He trained staff and created reports and dashboards with critical stakeholder information. He has recently created a new Salesforce application to automate funder and participant reports.

“He was tenacious in his attention to detail,” Joan said. “He goes to user group meetings and taught himself about Salesforce, and works closely with everyone on staff.”

Prior to the upgrade, emails sent to multiple agency partners would result in a lot of bounce backs. Now there are zero returns. “That is phenomenal and its thanks largely to Jerry,” Joan said.

After working 20 hours per week for almost a year Jerry is down to five hours as the project has matured. The flexibility suits him, as he’s the primary caregiver of a young son while his wife is on a fellowship in Washington D.C.

Joan hopes that Jerry can stay on indefinitely. “It is hard to describe how much value he has brought to this organization,” she said. “As a small nonprofit there is no way we could afford someone like him if he wasn’t a ReServist. ReServe is a concept whose time has come.”

Jerry also greatly values his experience as a ReServist.

“ReServe is great,” he said. “I like that it is open ended and can be extended when the need is there. It matches the work/life balance I am looking for and I am energized by the people I work with.”

Boston, Featured, Greater Boston

Greg Betley

ReServist Greg Betley was born in Queens, New York. His father served in the military, and the family spent several years in Texas before settling in Hazleton, PA. Greg earned an undergraduate degree in management from MIT and later pursued graduate studies in social psychology.

Financial pressures induced him to leave the graduate program and pursue a career in computer management. Greg worked as a programmer and senior technical specialist for several companies in Cambridge MA in the early 1980s. Between 1986 and 1992 he was product analyst and manager for Prime Computers and Wang Laboratories, two early giants in the era of minicomputers, precursors to the next generation of servers and personal computers.

It was an exciting time in the fast-paced and highly profitable IT world at the height of the “Massachusetts Miracle,” before most of the minicomputer makers shut down operations, filed for bankruptcy or changed their business models.

“These companies were manufacturing computers as fast as they could get silicon,” Greg said. “I rode Wang almost to the end.”

Between 1999 and 2012 Greg served as Senior Product Manager for BMC Software in Waltham, MA, where he led the firm’s capacity management product line during its evolution to cloud-based systems. He coordinated engineering, marketing and sales functions, upgraded product portfolios, negotiated joint third party development efforts and led new product development.

Greg began to reimagine his life when BMC downsized in 2012 and he was let go. He and his wife had raised two children and put them through college, and he had spent nearly 30 years in the hard-charging IT business.

“I was not old enough to retire but old enough not to want the daily pressure,” he said.

The couple took some time off. They drove out to Montana. Greg worked as a barista for a while, and spent a lot of time bicycling. He attended a ReServe event in Boston in January 2013 and signed on.

His first ReServist placement was with Hearth, a Boston nonprofit dedicated to eliminating homelessness among the elderly, where he led the development and implementation of a case management database.

After five months at Hearth, Greg was offered a placement with St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Boston in the fall of 2013. St. Mary’s offers programs for women and children who have experienced trauma and are living in poverty. It provides 600 clients annually with shelter, clinical and educational services, job training, employment placement, and help in searching for affordable permanent housing.

Like many nonprofits, St. Mary’s has struggled to find the resources and know-how to modernize its IT systems. “We had an archaic system that was always breaking down and had a lot of inefficiencies,” said Deirdre Houtmeyers, President of St Mary’s. “Reporting took ten times longer than it needed to.”

Deirdre Houtmeyers

A St. Mary’s board member put together a volunteer team of experts to assess the agency’s IT infrastructure. The team came up with a 40-page strategic plan. The agency posted a job description with ReServe for a Chief Information Office to implement the plan and Greg was the ideal candidate, becoming Acting CIO in September 2013.

At St. Mary’s, Greg encountered an IT system with servers that barely worked, aging desktops that ran antiquated software, unfavorable contracts with local internet providers, no onsite backup strategy and a firewall that would frequently disallow traffic to pass through the agency’s internal network.

“If I were taking an IT assessment I would have given them an F-,” he said.

Greg spent almost a year upgrading IT systems and implementing the strategic plan. He negotiated new PC purchases, changed desktops from Windows XP to Windows 7, migrated mail and files services to Office 365, and lowered the agency’s costs by setting up an internal team to provide IT services.

He reduced monthly phone bills by over a third by eliminating unused lines, influenced St. Mary’s strategic partners to provide pro-bono IT services, established best practices and documentation standards for trouble ticketing and asset management, and implemented a second learning lab for students.

“He has been amazing,” Deirdre said. ”We’re in a completely different place now, from servers to PCs, hardware and software. We have a new computer lab. Greg has had an unbelievable impact.”

Culturally, Greg was a great fit as well. St. Mary’s provides housing to 32 families with children, hosts a pregnant parenting program and a residential program for children removed from their homes by the Mass. Department of Children and Families. Many residents are victims of domestic violence and/or neglect.

“Greg assimilated to our environment very well,” said Deirdre. “It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that, and he has been all that and more.”

ReServe is a win-win for everyone, Greg said. ReServists keep their skills sharp while giving back to fantastic organizations like St. Mary’s, which benefit from the skills and commitment of ReServists.

“It makes me smile when I see all those young happy faces, women and children who have had such hard lives,” Greg said. “It’s very satisfying to see these young people using equipment that I installed and maintain to further their education and move on to college and jobs.”

With the IT project largely complete Greg is winding down his service with St. Mary’s. He will train a replacement to help St. Mary’s upgrade its security and phone systems, and then explore other options. One of his ideas, inspired by his work at St. Mary’s is to assemble a “SWAT team” of like-minded IT experts who would provide strategic and tactical assistance to nonprofits on an as-needed basis.

Or, he and his wife may travel more. “I have the time and energy to do stuff I have wanted to do since was 20,” Greg said.

Boston, Featured, Greater Boston

Elder hunger is a serious problem in the United States; nearly 9 million older adults are at risk of hunger. In New York City, close to one in six elderly residents – nearly 154,000 people – receives food from soup kitchens or soup pantries. Sixteen percent of New York City residents age 65 or older reported paying for medical care instead of food.

According to the AARP Foundation, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is one of the best options available to increase food purchasing power for low- income older adults. For many seniors, however, the application process is complex and daunting.

Richard Schneiderman, a retired human resources manager and Brooklyn resident, was having trouble receiving SNAP benefits to which he believed he was entitled. Numerous calls to the local SNAP office went unreturned.

ReServist Zina Zimmerman

ReServists Zina Zimmerman and Marjee Mosley from the SNAP Outreach Program helped Richard gather together the required documentation. They walked him through the application process, and when minimal benefits were provided, with the appeals process to have them increased. They reached out to the SNAP office on his behalf.

As a result of their efforts, his benefits were substantially increased.

“Marjee and Zina were extremely kind and caring throughout the whole process,” Richard said. “They were very patient and explained everything in great detail.”

Since 2011, the SNAP Outreach program – a partnership between ReServe, the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. (CSCS), AARP and NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA) – has secured approximately $5 million in benefits for over 5,000 New York City seniors. The program strives to end elder hunger by raising awareness and increasing senior participation in SNAP and other food and benefits programs.

The program employs 24 ReServists who assist older adults with their applications for benefits. Working in outreach teams, the ReServists meet with seniors at approximately 60 sites throughout New York City, including senior centers and public libraries, and at up to 10 monthly outreach events. A follow-up team reviews applications to ensure that seniors are getting the benefits for which they are eligible.

CSCS, which oversees the program, is a membership organization comprised of more than 200 senior service agencies that serve over 300,000 senior citizens throughout New York City. It helps member agencies provide quality programming, advocacy and training to seniors.

Igal Jellinek, CSCS Executive Director, said that the peer-to-peer outreach provided by ReServists is a key to the success of the SNAP Outreach Program. ReServe is a fantastic organization that fills an important need. People want to have a purpose when they grow older, and there are too few opportunities for seniors to give back.

“Working in the SNAP outreach program requires a great deal of patience and empathy, and it is very inspiring to watch ReServists work with seniors,” he said. “They are having a huge impact, and because of them this program has become a model for community outreach.”

Jennifer Brown, Benefits Outreach Manager for CSCS, said that ReServists also provide eligibility assessments for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program, which covers the cost of rent increases for eligible seniors so they can continue to live at home, and the Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps subsidize energy costs.

The experience and independence of the ReServists, and the passion they bring to their work, has made a strong impression on Jennifer.

“They all have so much expertise and talent and contribute not only to the SNAP program but to everything that we are doing,” she said.

The ReServists are eager participants in ongoing training, said Karol Tapias, Director of Training and Innovation for CSCS. SNAP eligibility requirements change annually. There are also policy changes that occur on a regular basis. For example the Farm Bill of 2014, which oversees SNAP, made many changes to the program, and ReServists had to be trained on how these changes impact clients.

From a programmatic perspective, the SNAP Outreach Program is a singular and innovative model that is replicable and highly flexible, based on the individual needs of clients.

“The ReServists themselves are what make it work,” Karol said. “When clients walk into a room and see their peers they are very reassured.”

Melba Boyar became a ReServist in the fall of 2013. A retired foodservice manager who worked at hospitals, nursing homes and universities, Melba brings a wealth of managerial experience to ReServe, where she serves on the SNAP outreach team.

Melba described the team as a group of committed individuals who have become close friends. They have bonded over a love of service and in sharing an adventure as they travel to sites throughout the five boroughs, learning about the city and each other.

“The work is very rewarding,” Melba said. “It is wonderful to see the joy and relief of our clients when they learn that benefits have been restored or increased.”

To be effective, ReServists must gain the trust of seniors. Questions have to be asked in ways that respect client privacy. Many of the seniors are alone, and see these meetings as an opportunity to tell stories and make connections with caring and sympathetic peers. Patience and empathy are paramount when engaging clients.

At the sites, team members reach out to seniors who may not know about the outreach team. In one instance Melba met a gentleman in the lobby of a senior center and invited him to meet with the team but he declined, saying he was ineligible for SNAP benefits.

Melba persisted and the man attended, and found out that he was in fact eligible.

“No one had taken the time to encourage him,” she said.

Prior to becoming a ReServist, Marjee Mobley spent ten years as a developer of employment and training programs for the NYC Department of Employment. In 2008 she was hired by Easter Seals as an employment specialist, where she worked for five years. She retired and joined ReServe, where she was engaged by CSCS as a follow-up specialist for the SNAP Outreach Program.

“The process can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for seniors,” Marjee said. “I just try to help them understand the decisions that have been made and to get them through the maze of information.”

Zina Zimmerman, a member of the SNAP Outreach team, spent ten years as Design Director for Tavern on the Green. Born in Brooklyn, she has done volunteer work for her entire adult life, and was thrilled to find in ReServe an opportunity to continue to give back after she stopped working full-time.

Zina agrees with CSCS staff and fellow ReServists that patience and empathy are prerequisites for helping seniors navigate the SNAP application process.

“We treat each client with courtesy and grace,” she said. “We hold their hands and chat, and listen to stories about their grandchildren and broken elevators.”

In one instance an 85-year-old client was unable to return a questionnaire because the elevator in her building was in fact broken, and she could not get to her mailbox. Her benefits were terminated. In another, a client lost benefits because her Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card had been issued with a wrong number.

In both cases Zina was able to get SNAP benefits restored. She’ll always remember the satisfaction of helping these individuals and peers gain access to something as basic as food.

“No one should be hungry,” Zina said.

Featured, New York City

It is our great privilege on Veteran’s Day to honor ReServists who have served their country. We are proud that these individuals have chosen to lend their skills, smarts and know-how to ReServe, and honored to place them in the service of so many worthy organizations. We thank our ReServist Veterans for their service, and for their commitment to giving back.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Brings Multiple Talents to ReServe

Edward Lipinski

Edward Lipinski

Edward Lipinski grew up in Jersey City and attended college in Pennsylvania, where he studied psychology and was active in film and theater. After graduating in 1965 he planned to move to New York City to start a career in the arts. Instead he was drafted, at a time when the Vietnam War was expanding. He entered the U.S. Air Force and attended Officers Training School.

Initially stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas, Edward was sent to California for missiles operations and maintenance training. He was then deployed to Kansas, where he served as a missile launch officer with the U.S. Strategic Air Command.

Maybe the hardest part about spending 18 months in a missile silo was being in constant readiness for something that everyone hoped would never happen. There was one memorable event; participating in a test launch of a Titan 2 missile, at the time the largest intercontinental ballistic missile in the U.S. arsenal. Edward activated the launching device that sent the missile – equipped with a dummy warhead filled with propellants – across the continent and into the Pacific Ocean.

“The SAC wanted to photograph the missile in flight, and there was a technical problem with the aircraft that delayed the launch for one day,” he said. “Because of the delay our crew launched it, making us one of the few crews ever to participate in a launch.”

Edward left the service in 1970 and returned to New York to study the visual arts under the G.I Bill. He worked as a professional writer, designer and illustrator, and the columns he wrote and illustrated for the New York Times - Home Clinic and Home Improvement – were widely syndicated and turned into a book.  He also taught art and art history at the Center for Media Arts and Mercy College in Manhattan.

The multi-talented Mr. Lipinski is also an accomplished ballroom dancer and part-time professional actor. The Actor’s Alliance, which helps members find work, got him several roles including a non-speaking part in a travelogue about Egypt.

“I was photographed dancing on a ship that sailed down the Nile,” he said.

Edward heard about ReServe through the Actor’s Alliance. His first placement as a ReServist was with the City of New York, where he wrote and edited manuals related to health and public safety. He was happy to be writing professionally again and loved working out of an office in the Woolworth Building with fantastic views of downtown Manhattan. He would have stayed on but funding for the project ended.

Edward continues to seek out opportunities with ReServe. “ReServe offers very creative jobs,” he said. “A lot of nonprofits can’t afford top talent, but through ReServe they can get that for an affordable price. It’s very rewarding for both sides.”

For Edward, the opportunity to give back is an extension of his commitment to service, which began in the U.S. Air Force. “I served to the best of my ability, and it will always give me a great feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

ReServe Honored to Help Preserve an Extraordinary Military Legacy

Nathaniel James

Nathaniel James

As founder and president of the 369th Historical Society, Major General Nathaniel James is custodian of the archives of the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, the legendary “Harlem Hellfighters” who served in both World Wars. His commitment to the mission is more than academic; in 1953, as a senior in high school, he enlisted and served as an infantryman in the all-Africa-American regiment, at a time when segregation was just starting to be phased out of the military.

The decision marked the beginning of a distinguished 33-year military career that culminated with General James’ appointment to serve as Commanding General of the New York Army National Guard. He was promoted to Major General in December, 1992.

The 369th Historical Society is an all-volunteer nonprofit agency that was established in 1960 to collect, preserve and maintain artifacts, books, papers, photographs, film and articles on the history of the 369th Regiment, and of African American soldiers who served in the U.S. Military It has always been housed at the historic 369th Infantry Regiment Armory at 2366 Fifth Avenue in Harlem, which was built for the regiment in 1933. But with the Armory currently undergoing a major renovation – and the Society unable to return when the renovation is complete – Gen. James was forced to archive, pack and store the entire collection.

Harlem Hellfighters

Harlem Hellfighters

It was a massive undertaking. For help, Gen. James turned to the Summer Seniors Employment Program (SSEP), a partnership between ReServe and the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC). ReServe recruits West Harlem residents age 55+ to lend their skills to high-impact service projects at nonprofits throughout New York City. Participants work part-time throughout the summer, with stipends funded by WHDC, which promotes economic growth and quality of life in West Harlem.

“The Summer Seniors Employment Program is extremely helpful to organizations like mine,” Gen. James said. “It is a great opportunity to get valuable help.”

The U.S. Army’s 369th Regiment was formed from the National Guard’s 15th Regiment in New York in 1913, as the first and only National Guard unit in New York State composed solely of African-Americans, and the first African-American regiment to serve during World War 1. The regiment, nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters by the German Army, was known for its tenacity and toughness. During a triumphant return to the U.S. the unit paraded through the streets of New York on February 17, 1919, a day that was an unofficial holiday in Harlem.

The Hellfighters later became a coastal artillery unit, and then a logistics supply brigade. The 369th paved the way for future African American soldiers to serve the nation, and the unit’s bravery and dedication were cited frequently during the subsequent fight for civil rights.

Barney Pinkney was the first of two SSEP participants to help with archiving and packing the collection. A native New Yorker and military veteran, he entered the service in 1973 and served for 14 years in the infantry and as a tanker. He later joined the Army ReServe at Fort Totton in Queens.

Mr. Pinkney heard about ReServe at a meeting of the American Associations of Retired Persons (AARP), and began helping Mr. James with organizing and packing the 369th Historical Society archives. He was honored to offer his services to Mr. James and looks forward to the day when the collection finds a new home.

Barney regards his military service as a source of pride and accomplishment. He is grateful for the opportunity to give back through ReServe, and to have a hand in preserving an important historical record that might otherwise be lost to future generations.

“Serving my country was one of my most proud accomplishments,” he said. “Now, it feels very good to be giving back through ReServe.”

The Society recently opened a temporary office at the Harlem Prep Charter School on East 123rd Street. The collection will remain in storage until it finds a permanent home. When it does, Gen. James will turn to ReServe for help.

“I would love to have Barney and the other SSEP participants back,” he said.

Life Lessons Learned in the Military Brought to ReServe

William Werwaiss

William Werwaiss

New York City native William Werwaiss entered the U.S. Navy in 1961. He earned his officer’s commission and served at sea on a destroyer until 1966. Following his service he worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nation, serving under Admiral John McCain, the future U.S. Senator.

The Navy in those days was a great place for young people to learn about life. William served with people for every kind of background and all walks of life, and learned about accountability and taking responsibility for oneself.

“It was a very positive experience for me,” he said. “I still get together with my shipmates.”

William moved to Connecticut, where he worked for 30 years in the telephone industry, as a technician and later as a division president with ATT. He retired at 55 and did consulting work for telecommunications clients.  He volunteered for various agencies but wanted his service to have more of an impact.

William first heard about ReServe through a friend at the New York Times Foundation. He attended an orientation session and was deeply impressed by the opportunities that were available to a very talented cohort of older professionals.

His first placement as a ReServist was with an organization that provides sanctuary and support for victims of domestic violence. “It was a great organization, extremely well managed with a great mission,” William said.

Through the placement William was introduced to members of the New York City Department of Health (DOH), who were impressed enough by what they saw that they decided to start their own ReServe program. He was invited to help run it – to match organizations with the appropriate ReServist – and gladly accepted the offer, eager to play a role in expanding ReServe’s impact.

William spent two years with the DOH.  At its peak the program employed 35 ReServists including doctors, engineers and law enforcement personnel.

William’s next placement was with a health care chaplaincy, where he served for over three years as assistant to the vice president for Human Resources. His tasks included managing key accounts, conducting background investigations and acting as registrar for symposiums.

All told, William spent over six years as a ReServist. He is thrilled to have found an agency that lets him extend his commitment to service, which began when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The genius of the organization, he said, is that it allows retired seniors to work, with flexible schedules and real responsibilities, and to have an impact on individuals and communities.

“I have a service ethic,” he said. “ReServe allows me to continue that commitment as a member of highly skilled teams that help so many nonprofit organizations.”

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