As a lawyer, Marc B. Merklin said he feels volunteering is an obligation he has to the community. He said it’s important to create a community where you want your family to grow up and eventually succeed their parents.
“It’s the general philosophy that if you don’t do something for others and for the community, what’s the point of all of this?” he said. “It’s nice to accumulate wealth and it’s nice to be in a successful business, but if it doesn’t translate to something that does something for someone else or makes the community a better place, my own philosophy is, what’s the point?”
Merklin began fulfilling his obligation in the general community since the early 1980s, when he began practicing law. It wasn’t until a trip in 1992 to Israel with 80 members of the Akron Jewish community when he reinvigorated his Jewish background and he hasn’t stopped.
“Akron is a very small Jewish community and so it’s hard not to be involved if you want to have an active Jewish life here,” he said. “It’s just so small that if you don’t take a position and help, I’m not sure there’s a lot of other people who would step up to the plate and do it.”
He’s been able to give much of his time because of his firm’s mission to continue involvement into the community, something he hopes to pass down to new lawyers.
“My firm encourages involvement in the community,” he said. “They make time for me to get involved. They certainly had other people here who helped me get involved in the community. And I do the same thing for the young people here, I encourage them to do exactly what I did.”
There’s no one organization Merklin cares more about, but he said the Shaw Jewish Community Center of Akron holds a soft spot in his heart.
“It’s so central to Jewish life in Akron, every aspect of it,” he said. “Whether your interest is religious or cultural or just have the historical or family connection, it’s kind of the central place for all that.”
Enhancing Akron’s Jewish community is one of Merklin’s next goals. He said he wants to start by tearing down walls or safeguards around agencies so there is more collaboration through the community to possibly engage more people, more meaningfully.
“Our Jewish population here in Akron has grown smaller and smaller and older and older,” he said. “But we’re finally starting to see younger families and that’s kind of exciting.”
For those wanting to become more involved in the community, Merklin said to find a cause he or she is passionate about, but not to make the same mistake he did by overestimating the time he could dedicate.
“Don’t do it just to do it, or to be involved in something,” he said. “Get involved and be more focused. One of the mistakes I made was I was doing too much at the same time early in my career and so if I had to do it over again. ... If you focus on a few opportunities, you can probably make a more meaningful impactful.”
– Alyssa Schmitt