Married couples tend to share everything with their spouse. This is true for Art and Enid Kraus, all the way down to their love of volunteering.
Dating back to his high school days, Art Kraus said he’s always been involved whether that was at the old Jewish community centers scattered across Cleveland’s east side or through Bellefaire JCB, where his parents fostered children. His family hosted several children throughout his life, where he took an active caring role.
Art Kraus is also involved with the Community Partnership on Aging, where he does various volunteer opportunities like helping install 75 digital converters on televisions for aging adults in the community. He is also involved with their temple, Temple Emanu El, and co-chairs their diversity committee. He also helps set up Zoom meetings to keep the community engaged.
“I also drive Enid crazy now and then,” he added, jokingly.
As for Enid Kraus, she also gives her time to their temple, as well as the partnership. With the partnership, she helps teach a knitting class held at Notre Dame College in South Euclid. While on-site, she helps in their office, manning phones, as well as volunteering in their Produce Plus program with the Cleveland Food Bank. For many years, Enid said she also was a math tutor to students in the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District.
But her main endeavor is with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, where she got involved right after retirement. She assists in the glasshouse giving animal demonstrations and talks, as well as leads the butterfly releases and some tours.
“When my activities need someone, I’ll call and offer,” Enid said. “It’s rewarding to help. So, why not?”
CJN: What keeps you involved?
Enid: You can’t sit around when you retire, that is absolutely the worst thing to do. And we’ve both gained a lot of skills – sometimes we do our things or we do things together. Another thing the partnership does is work with Hawken School and we’ve done some work there were we had middle school kids interview seniors. There are so many things these programs do and if they tap you in or you are interested, it’s just a good thing to do. It’s rewarding to help, so why not? What am I going to do otherwise? Sit around? No, thank you. That is not for me.
Art: For another activity with the partnership, we were lucky enough to bring in two kids from SCORE to do a presentation on diversity to a sizable group of seniors. It was very interesting to watch the seniors there, some of which who are still kind of adjusting to the thought they might be around African American people. Some of them aren’t there yet and may never be because they’re older and lived their lives differently. But the way these kids operate, by asking questions – watching these people react was the most interesting thing I’ve witnessed. It is things like that which keep me going and wanting to be involved.
CJN: How has volunteering impacted your retirement?
Enid: You gain new skills because you work with trained professionals. It is encouraging to branch out a little bit. I never thought about working with senior adults, and when I monitored a lunch program, I loved it. With the gardens, I work with kids there and that’s great. But, I enjoy working with adults more because my whole career was about kids. It’s a stretch, but you help other people grow too.
Art: It allows you to develop relationships with people from different walks of life and cultures. It’s rounded out my life I think because, for the most part, we haven’t had relationships with people different from us. For example, in my professional career, back in the 60s and 70s, there weren’t many African American people in accounting and insurance. And back in high school, even less. So, this gives me an insight into life in the real world.
CJN: Do you have a favorite volunteering memory?
Enid: Someone I visit now as a friendly visitor through the partnership was the first African American woman in South Euclid. She is an amazing person and has had a huge impact on me as far as furthering my knowledge of the experiences of people of color. I knew a bit from my years as a teacher, but wow. She is an amazing person and you can’t help but be touched by her presence.
Art: Enid is so right about that woman. I go with her to visit her sometimes and she is something else – sharp as a tack. I wish more people her age were as tough and sharp as she is. Some of the stories she has told us have been so eye-opening. Volunteering around people different from you rounds out your life.
CJN: How does your Jewish heritage fit in?
Enid: It’s all about repairing the world through tikkun olam. It’s a mitzvah and a commandment. That is what it comes down to.
Art: I’m not a very religious person actually – my upbringing was more about being a good person and being part of the community. Jewish people are always good people and we take our heritage seriously, so that part of my life makes me feel obligated to be good.
With the future of their volunteer endeavors still teetering in the balance due to the pandemic, both Art and Enid Kraus just want to get back to it.
“I want to get back on track with our activities and maybe branch out a little more too because there is so much out there,” Enid said. “I try not to look too far ahead though because it is scary, but I’m counting on science to get everything back on track.”
Art added, “I am very happy with what we’re doing and we’re not getting any younger. So, from my perspective, I’d be happy to do whatever I still can as we get older. My main goal is to be able to get older.”