Bruce and Judie Amsel

Bruce and Judie Amsel

After retiring in 2000, Bruce Amsel of Mayfield Heights needed to find something to fill his time when he was no longer juggling deadlines associated with working as a Social Security professional.

Now two decades later, he splits his time with several local organizations, including the Cleveland Metroparks, the Ohio Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, Greater Cleveland Volunteers, Porthouse Theatre and the Musical Theatre Project. He is also a frequent blood donor and passionate recycler.

At the Cleveland Metroparks, Amsel works the desk at the CanalWay Center in Cuyahoga Heights. He also is engaged with Youth Outdoors, which provides outdoor engagement opportunities for Cleveland-area youth living in or near the city. He and his wife, Judie, are also trail ambassadors. They both work on special events for the organization. Judie Amsel was profiled as a Silver Linings in January 2017.

With OSHIIP, Amsel assists Medicare enrollees during the open enrollment period and does this service out of an office at Fairhill Partners in Cleveland, where he sets up shop part-time throughout the week. He will also be set up at the Euclid Senior Center.

As for his recycling, Amsel started several years ago when he got a new chain-link fence and the company installing it wanted to throw away the old fence. He took it to the recycling center himself, and since then, he’s been collecting metals, cardboard boxes and electronics, and making sure they’re properly recycled with his friend, Bill Brumel.

He can also be found at his synagogue, Beth El-The Heights Synagogue, when help is needed.

CJN: How long have you been volunteering and why is it important to you?

Amsel: I started as a red coat at Playhouse Square in 1987, did that for almost 30 years, and have moved on from that. I started with the Cleveland Metroparks in 1997. I’ve been an OSHIIP counselor for 15 years now, and open enrollment goes from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Before I started at Fairhill Partners, I was already volunteering for them for some time. I was placed by Greater Cleveland Volunteers, of which my wife, Judie, and I are both members. But, volunteering is something I can do to give back to the community. If I can provide some of my knowledge in addition to learning a lot from others, I am happy.

CJN: What leads you to do what you do?

Amsel: Understanding my motivation is an interesting question, and I am never sure how to answer that. I do what I do because it’s what I do. I enjoy it and it’s as simple as that.

CJN: What is your favorite activity?

Amsel: Getting outside in the parks is amazing. Being able to be out and helping naturalists with their programming is so fun – like lighting fires and roasting marshmallows. I enjoy being outdoors. What got me into the Cleveland Metroparks in the late 1990s was actually one of the naturalists. They were doing bike trips in the parks once a month and he’d said bring me in as a second naturalist. Since they have to be paid and they work by the hour, there wasn’t a budget to do that. He was looking for someone to ride along the back of the group and carry a radio to make sure no one got lost. I said I’d do it for him, and did it for about four years. He then turned me onto their trail ambassadors program. I’m one of the few original trail monitors left now. It’s just so much fun to get out there. We meet people from all over the United States and internationally. It makes me feel so good that I can talk to people about our parks.

CJN: What advice do you have for other seniors trying to get involved with the community?

Amsel: Get off your butts. Don’t be so wrapped up in yourself. Find a way to express yourself by helping all of the nonprofits that are in the Cleveland area. They always need volunteers. Find something you like to do or find something where you’d like to learn as a volunteer. The possibilities are endless. Don’t think about it, do it.

As for any goals he has for the remainder of his retirement, Amsel said he isn’t really one to make concrete plans.

“I just want to do more of what I’m doing,” he said. “I don’t tell myself I will do a hundred hours here or another hundred there. I look at all of the possibilities. I see what is needed and if I am available and there is enough time, I will go and help. But, being with Judie is more important to me than anything else.”

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