After leading a full working life, Patti Rogat knew exactly what she wanted to do in her retirement – volunteer.
But retirement wasn’t the first time the Orange resident got a taste for community involvement. It started back in high school while she was spending time at the Jewish Convalescent Hospital.
“I used to take the bus with my friend and we would go there once a week,” Rogat recalled. “I worked in the occupational therapy department. That is where it all started and I loved it. I loved to go there. How many kids in high school would hop on a bus and go volunteer? It was a good experience.”
Now at age 67, Rogat has volunteered at Park Synagogue and Jewish National Fund and helps out at Gross Schechter Day School and Solon Chabad.
CJN: What is your favorite part about volunteering at Gross Schechter? What do you do?
Rogat: My favorite part is the people. When this opportunity came up, I just jumped on it. That was that. That came about because my daughter, Janna Dorfman, is the director of admissions at Gross Schechter. She came home one day and said a new couple was working the kitchen and that they were fantastic people. Their names are chef Yuval and Esti Rub. They are just fantastic and my daughter saw that they could use some help. I said I would love to.
I love to work with kids and I love to work with food. I jumped on it and started doing it. They are just delightful to work with. That whole situation (at Gross Schechter) is warm and welcoming. Also, my grandson is a student there. He’s such a lucky boy to be going there.
It was perfect for me (to) give some of my time. I even wanted to do this piece because I thought someone might read it and go, “I’m a bubbe and my grandchild also goes there” and that might inspire them to also give their time.
It’s funny because I didn’t volunteer for a long time. But now, I feel very appreciated.
CJN: What does community involvement mean to you?
Rogat: Community involvement makes you feel good inside that you give back to your community. You make a lot of good friendships and relationships in the community. That is important too. Also, the level of appreciation that you get from people is important and feels good. I guess I’m still figuring that out too.
CJN: Where did you get your interest in volunteering from?
Rogat: This was taught in my home from a very young age. Besides my mom being a working mom, she volunteered all the time. I learned by example. It was just ingrained in me. I don’t know what inspired her to do it - but she just always did. And you know, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
CJN: What role does volunteering play in your Jewish heritage?
Rogat: It is just in your life itself. Your Jewish heritage gives you values and goals in life. Volunteering checks off a box of being generous and giving. That’s what you learn from Judaism, I think. It helps check off the box of tzedakah.
CJN: Why should others in the Jewish community consider volunteering for their retirement?
Rogat: First of all, it gives you something to do. For me, it gives me structure for my week. I know what I have to do then. Before, I just woke up and wondered what I’d do. This gives you a warm feeling in your heart and it’s wonderful. And I think the people I volunteer for appreciate it.
As for the rest of her retirement, Rogat has many hobbies.
“I like to play mahjong and socialize with my friends,” she said. “I like to go out to dinner with them and eat great food. We explore different things that we didn’t get to explore before retiring. It’s about having a good time and enjoying life.”