Volunteer Spotlight July 2022: Mickey Greenberg

volunteer receptionist - Mickey Greenberg

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I am a 1961 graduate of North High School, went to the University of Minnesota for undergrad and law school (1969). I worked as a corporate attorney for Fingerhut Corporation before moving to Israel in 1974, where I worked as Purchasing Manager for Elscint Corp. in Haifa. I returned to Minnesota in 1975 and started work as an administrative law judge for the state. I became a District Court Judge in Hennepin County in 1987 and retired in 2005 to begin a career as a mediator and arbitrator, which I still do.

I’ve been active with Herzl Camp since I started there as a camper in 1954. Since then, I’ve been a counselor, music director, assistant program director, board member and board president. I’ve also served on the boards of the JCC, Beth El Synagogue, Sholom Foundation, and Cardozo Society. Also, every year for the past 25+ years, I’ve “worked a hole” at the JCC golf tournament (as well as the Hennepin County Bar Foundation golf tournament). I have also volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House, serving breakfast there occasionally. 

I have been active in community theater for over 40 years, taking roles in dramatic and musical productions such as“Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cabaret,” “Music Man,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “All My Sons,”and“The Crucible.” My first effort was in “Zayde Takes a Bride” – a not-too-memorable adventure, though I still remember my first lines. I also was chair of the JCC Center Stage Committee, when that existed. For almost 50 years, I’ve entertained as Singing Santa at retirement homes, churches, hospitals, community events and private parties. I think I’m the only Jewish Santa who knows all the words to most Christmas carols.

I’m married to Shelley Kornblum, and between us we have 12 grandchildren. I have two daughters (Shira, in Albuquerque, NM; and Ilana in Hopkinton, Mass.) and three bonus daughters (Keren in Irvine, Cali.; Danya and Roni in St Louis Park).

What volunteer role do you have with JFCS?

As a volunteer receptionist, I get to answer the phones and direct calls to the appropriate individual or department. Sometimes that takes engaging in conversation to figure out exactly what the caller is looking for. I greet visitors and clients and check in those who are here for an appointment with a social worker or other service provider. When the mail comes, I sort it and put it in the appropriate mail folder. I also record the donations that come in and prepare a spreadsheet with a daily accounting.

What motivated you to begin volunteering with JFCS and how long have you been volunteering with JFCS?

I was looking for an organization to volunteer with in 2018 and I sought one with active Jewish outreach that was located close to home. I was particularly attracted to the Garber Transportation Service – perhaps because I played gin rummy with Jake Garber for many years at the JCC. After learning about the wide breadth of services JFCS provides, I sought out their volunteer manager, and the rest is history – hopefully, a long history.

What’s your favorite part about volunteering with JFCS and how has being a JFCS volunteer impacted your life?

One of my favorite aspects of Monday and Tuesday mornings is looking forward to a smiling greeting from my receptionist mentor, Wendy. JFCS has impacted my life by getting to know some terrific people who make our community more vibrant. My volunteer responsibilities also have compelled me to get to sleep earlier so I can get up in time to be at the reception desk by 8:30 a.m.

Do you have a memorable story about your JFCS volunteer experience to share?

Occasionally, I get a bit concerned when I recognize one of the JFCS clients as a former “client” of mine when I was an active judge. Fortunately, neither of the two individuals recognized me, probably because I don’t wear my robe to volunteer.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering with JFCS?

JFCS is a wonderful organization with programs that engage all segments of our community. Whatever a person’s general or specific interests, there is a place within JFCS that can put their skills to good use or satisfy their desire to make a tangible contribution to the improvement of our community and pursue tikkun olam (“repair of the world”).

If you are interested in becoming a JFCS Volunteer Receptionist, or for more information about JFCS Volunteer Services, contact Dana Shapiro, Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager at dshapiro@jfcsmpls.org or 952-417-2112.