Attorney Michael J. Horvitz said he’s always felt people who have had any success or good fortune have a responsibility to give back to the community, citing the Jewish principle of tikkun olam.
“Volunteering has been my way of trying to improve the community,” he said. “I’ve been doing this in one way or another for as far back as I can remember, whether it’s being engaged in some kind of group in school to try to help the community or to be on local boards and getting involved in organizations. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t involved in some of these activities.”
Horvitz volunteers as a trustee of The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Clinic and The Frick Collection in New York City. He is a past trustee of Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the Cleveland Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the Montefiore Home. He also serves on a number of advisory committees, including the audit committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, investment committees of the David and Inez Myers Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation, and the visiting committee of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
He said there wasn’t one specific thing he’s done in the community that he was most proud of, but he enjoys helping boards and organizations reach consensus on plans that need to be accomplished.
“Overall, the process of trying to figure out the right thing to do and helping to get it done is the most rewarding thing to me,” Horvitz said.
For Horvitz, volunteering has made him more sensitive and more understanding of the needs of others.
“(Volunteering has) helped me to recognize the different perspectives people have as they approach the issues facing institutions,” he said.
He said he has no intention of stopping his volunteer activities, as he enjoys it and feels he gets more out of it than the organizations he helps do.
“I will continue to do it as long as I’m able to,” he said. “I have this disease where I have a hard time saying ‘no.’ The trick is not to take on too many things, but I end up doing that anyway.”
He said his best piece of advice for young people looking to get involved in the community is the long-running Nike slogan: Just do it.
“Cleveland happens to be a great community for volunteer and community activity,” he said. “All the local organizations are looking for people who want to be involved; all you have to do is raise your hand. If you’re interested in doing the work and being involved, you can do it.”
He suggested young people focus on things that interest them.
“That’s the greatness of America,” he said. “Some people like hospitals, some people like educational institutions, some people like social service agencies. There’s no shortage of good causes and things to get involved in. A lot of it is personal decision.”
– Ed Carroll