Volunteer Spotlight: Bruce Goldstein helps strangers with a smile
By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
Bruce Goldstein, 74, of Montclair, volunteers five hours a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., to help at HackensackUMC Mountainside, also known as Mountainside Hospital. Goldstein has been a volunteer for six years.
In this series, we highlight a hometown person who has given freely of their time and effort to help people, animals or the environment. To suggest a person or an organization for this series, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
What inspires you to volunteer?
Mountainside is where my son was born. Its gives me a destination, a place to go. I like the people there, it works for me. And it’s close by, it’s only 10 minutes away. After I retired from work, staying home is not healthy. I like to garden a lot and I can’t garden every day due to the weather.
What are some of your volunteering duties?
I deliver the newspaper to patients. Sometimes I just take care of it for them and give them one if they don’t have the money. When I’m not doing the newspaper delivery, I engage with the patients to get their minds off their problems. When I walk in the room, I get this stare so I say, “Not a doctor, a volunteer—no IVs—no injections.” I try to talk to them, some politics. A lot of senior citizens there. I get them water, or a blanket, a pillow. I help the nurses out, if I see they are distressed I go to tell the nurse. I also train other volunteers and let them know when patients can eat. I am on the fifth floor where people come from emergency and get stabilized. When no one visits them, I stay longer than with others. I help them use the phone. I also engage with nurses and talk to them and make them laugh too. It can be stressful for them.
What have you learned volunteering?
To use my history to relate, or expertise [as a Veteran] to help them out. I’m sometimes able to relate to their past experience, which helps them. When you get on the topic of politics, it’s very interesting.
What’s your favorite part of volunteering?
To make people smile and talk. I feel good. I walked into the room one time and a women said “Hi Bruce,” she remembered me from last time. It made me feel good that she recognized me.
How do you feel at the end of a day after you volunteered?
It makes me feel good that what I do makes a difference, that I can help out. Doing newspapers is like exercise. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction doing these things, helping at the hospital makes me feel good.
How does your family feel about your volunteering service?
My wife is a teacher, she appreciates that I’m not in the house and I’m out being active. They all really appreciate it. My brother is a periodontist and we talk about it all the time.
What do you do on your free time outside of volunteering?
I like to garden, I have a flower garden. I also cultivate, cut the grass, trim, pull out the weeds. On Saturdays, I play tennis at the Glenfield Racket Club on [Route] 46.
What was your occupation before your retirement?
I used to be an import manager for a clothing company. I served during the Vietnam War, but ended up in Germany in the Fourth Armored Division. I was a battalion supply sergeant.