Posted November 11, 2016 in Articles
Author: Amanda Koehn, Cleveland Jewish News
When Helene Weinberger sits in the common area at R.H. Myers Apartments in Beachwood, people stop to say hello. Although she is president of the tenants association there, people likely also know the 92 year-old from the building’s convenience store, which she runs. A veteran of World War II, former insurance woman and author of “Ageless Journey” when she was 90, Weinberger has not quite slowed down yet in her 30 years of retirement.
“I just continued what I’d done all my life, sort of, only I used to get paid and now I don’t,” Weinberger said, adding that she would have felt “lost” if she had not begun volunteering regularly. Thus, she started helping out at Menorah Park while her husband was there.
After her husband passed away, Weinberger volunteered at the South Euclid Senior Center. However, it still wasn’t enough. She ended up writing the book, “Ageless Journey,” which contains first-person vignettes about life and growing older.
“I just started to think and write about some of the experiences I had had or my current situation, my opinions,” she said.
As a veteran who was discharged at the end of World War II, Weinberger also remains committed to preserving the memories as Ohio representative of the Jewish War Veterans to the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.
“I try to get members because I believe firmly that long after all of us are gone, in my generation, that the National Museum will carry the information about what people did and who got Medals of Honor and things of that sort,” Weinberger said.
Moreover, although Weinberger’s term as president of the R.H. Myers tenants association will soon be up and now has help in the building’s convenience store, she anticipates finding ways to stay busy as she believes that staying engaged in the world is key as one grows older.
“I wonder sometimes if people have lived their lives in kind of a very enclosed type of environment and haven’t really explored the big beautiful world outside. I’m not saying that the Jewish world is a small one, but when you become embroiled in your own being totally, then you almost anticipate problems and cause problems for yourself,” she said.
“I would love it if I had time now, or I felt competent, to write about some of the people I see daily, but I see them here daily and they would recognize it too fast!
“I really would like to write again but I can’t do it when I’m so involved in too many immediate things. You have to do that, I think, when you have a little time.”
Weinberger talks shop
CJN: What volunteer work do you do here at the R.H. Myers convenience store?
With the store, I have to do the ordering of all the supplies, and some of it I can do online, some of it I have to go out to get it because either it’s last minute or not available online. And I try to train the people I work with.
CJN: What have you learned from working in the R.H. Myers store?
To pay attention to what people want, to try to diversify the stock, to keep very careful records of the expiration dates of various things.
I learned a lot about working at a store. I never worked at a store in my life except when I was very young, before I was eligible to go in the army where I worked for the defense department.
CJN: How does it compare to your other volunteer work?
It’s sort of all consuming.
I was spending close to 20 hours a week on all my activities here, and decided that’s probably too much. We started looking for additional people and a little additional help and we have it now.
Whether it’s another book or a volunteer gig, Weinberger’s next phase is likely to keep her engaged in the world and community – even at 92.