Herm Minkoff stands in the Homeland Diner before a group of residents. On the table are news clippings and books.
“Who has been following the stock market?” he asks.
“It’s up,” says one resident. “About 300.”
It’s been a volatile couple of weeks, Minkoff agrees. “The stock market right now is like a roller-coaster.”
“Yeah,” says another resident. “Take a guess!”
This is Homeland’s twice-monthly sports and current events talk, led by Herm Minkoff. The retired furniture dealer volunteers his time to help Homeland residents stay on top of the news of the day. In the process, he has earned the appreciation of Homeland residents and staff for his untiring service.
Minkoff loves the people of Homeland right back. They grieved with him after the death of his wife, and they constantly support his volunteer work. Volunteers are essential to achieving Homeland’s mission of assuring residents safe, active lives. Minkoff embodies the character traits valued in volunteers – his upbeat attitude, his concern for others, his gift for communications, and his genuine compassion for the well-being of others.
“It’s a good thing when you help people out like this,” says Minkoff.
Originally, Minkoff led talks focused on sports legends and today’s sports news, but he added current affairs to appeal to a broader audience.
“There’s so much going on right now,” he says. “Every day, you pick up the paper and there’s something going on. I really enjoy it. I think it keeps me a little sharp.”
Minkoff isn’t afraid to choose topics that elicit strong opinions. On this day, Homeland residents were sharing thoughts and opinions on transgender people (“If they want to make the change, then go completely. Because then they can’t come back.”) and Donald Trump (“The windbag.”) Even when participants disagree, Minkoff makes sure that opinions are acknowledged, and no one interrupts anyone else.
“Sometimes, I’ll walk in and think to myself, ‘What should I talk about today?’” Minkoff says. “The people I get, they love it.”
When they talk about sports, the discussion doesn’t focus simply on scores and what’s happening on the field. For instance, Minkoff reminds them, sports figures of the past were shielded from scrutiny when they misbehaved off the field, but today’s sports stars are chronicled in minute detail – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
During one discussion about husbands whose straying makes the news, Minkoff asked why a humiliated wife would, as the song says, stand by her man.
“The women there had some great answers,” he says. “’A woman can’t help it sometimes. She’s in a bind. Where’s else can she go?’”
Residents show their appreciation by ending the sessions with applause. “They love it,” says Minkoff. “I always start off by telling them that if we get into anything political, I just want them to know that I am not a Democrat, I am not a Republican. I am an Independent. I just call it the way it is.”