For as long as Geraldine Stein can remember, her family has been volunteering – it’s just what they do, she said.
“Giving back is one of our family values,” she said. “It’s just a part of who we are. Be kind and generous.”
Carmie and Todd Stein; their children, Abby Diamond, Michelle Hirsch, Jodi Meridieth and Rachel Weinberg; and Geraldine and the late Morton Stein are this year’s Generation Award honorees.
The family stays active in Jewish life by volunteering in different leadership roles with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Jewish Federations of North America, the LeBron James Family Foundation, Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland, Gross Schechter Day School and Montefiore.
Todd Stein said he first learned about giving back from his grandfather, Alex Stein, an immigrant from Russia.
“When he immigrated from Russia, he opened up a local grocery store,” Todd Stein said. “At the end of the week, he would give away perishable food to families that needed it most. He often let families delay payment on their invoices. He helped so many with the utmost compassion.”
Growing up, Hirsch, Diamond, Meridieth and Weinberg remember seeing their parents continuing on that compassion, which has spread through the community through their own involvement and donations.
“When we were little girls, our parents used to always tell us when we would fight over toys or clothes, ‘When you share you get more,’” Hirsch said. “They would reward us for being selfless and sharing with each other. Now as adults, we truly understand why helping others is the best feeling in the world. When we give back to the community, we get so much more in return. The more we give, the more we get.”
Weinberg added, “We grew up watching our parents and grandparents chairing events, sitting on boards, always being the ones to help make our community stronger. This was just who they were and as a result who we wanted to grow up and be just like.”
The family stays active in the Jewish community in Cleveland and Akron to ensure the experiences they had as children can continue for the next generation.
“I’m active in the Jewish community because I want my children to have what we had growing up – a thriving Jewish life and a strong safety net for all,” Diamond said. “As Jews, we are one giant family and we have to take care of each other.”
Even after moving away from the area, the youngest generation saw it had an important role in strengthening the community and eventually returned home.
“All of us went away to school and then lived in big cities but all of us eventually made our way back to Cleveland,” Meridieth said. “We all came back to raise our Jewish families within five minutes of each other, with our combined eight kids under 6 years old. Family is everything to us. We’re involved because we’re invested in the success of this community.”
Morton Stein founded the family’s business, Brunswick Companies, an insurance brokerage and risk management consulting service, in 1972. Todd Stein said he thinks the business has allowed the family to learn to care about others and led to making the community stronger.
“We genuinely care about others,” Todd Stein said. “Maybe it’s because we’ve all grown up in the insurance and risk management business, but with everything we do, we want to protect and invest in the many organizations that make our community so strong and will be there in times of need.”
For those looking to give more to the community, Carmie Stein said to share why that’s important as it can encourage others to get involved and to make a difference in the community.
“Talk about why you give, how to give and why it’s so important to get involved,” she said. “Invite others to join you and see for themselves why it’s so important to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
– Alyssa Schmitt