I may not ride, but… (with JBBBS/Rodman Ride volunteer, Lisa Kessel).

I’m a supporter both of the event and one of the agencies it benefits, JBBBS. Here’s why…

It was a beautiful day last September. The sun was shining brightly and you could feel the energy in the air as my friend, Meredith, and I approached the registration desk, ready to volunteer.  We slipped into our bright yellow Ride shirts and walked together with our noisemakers to the spot where we were assigned to cheer on hundreds of bikers as they sped past.

Meredith and I are matched in JBBBS’ Friend 2 Friend MAGIC Program, which serves adults with disabilities. We see each other once a month for a group activity with other matches. And while we enjoy that time with friends, we occasionally like to step outside the box and do something special together apart from the group.

Lisa Kessel (right) and Meredith at the Rodman Ride for Kids, 2013.

Lisa Kessel (right) and Meredith at the Rodman Ride for Kids, 2013.

As a non-rider, when I was approached about volunteering I was admittedly skeptical about whether I’d have fun. But, a supporter of JBBBS, I decided to give a few hours to the cause. And it was inspiring to be in the presence of others who support the agency with their time and money.

I was pleased to be able to spend that beautiful  afternoon with Meredith. Her eagerness to be involved, to help, was contagious. As we prepared PB&J’s for the riders and met others volunteers, I felt truly lucky to be part of such a great program. MAGIC  brought us together, and we’ve really bonded.

As we approach our two-year match anniversary, I  think back to all of the special events we have experienced. While I have fond recollections of big group activities and social events, I can honestly say that last year’s Rodman Ride was one of the more significant events that not only strengthened our relationship but also gave both of us a chance to celebrate a program we love.

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Fact: Volunteering is good for you!

By: Hannah Fried-Tanzer, Intern: Emerging Jewish Leaders Program

JBBBS volunteers tout the way mentoring-friendships make them feel good. But it’s more than a feeling. It turns out that eating your fruits and vegetables is not the only path to a healthier you. Volunteering is proven to improve physical and mental health and professional lives, too.

Physical Benefits:

Feeling physically healthier: 76% of American adult volunteers report that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier. And it’s more than a feeling.

Less Stress: 78% say that volunteering reduces their level of stress. And acts of “do-gooding” help reduce blood pressure.

Mental Benefits:

Happier lives: An Americans’ Changing Lives survey found that those who volunteer report higher levels of happiness, life-satisfaction and self-esteem.

 Professional Benefits:

27% more likely to be employed: In July 2013, the Corporation for National and Community Service conducted a study and found that volunteers are 27% more likely to find a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. Volunteering keeps a job-seeker’s skills current while filling gaps in one’s résumé.

Do good by someone else. Do good by you. E-mail volunteers@jbbbs.org to learn more about how you can make a difference here.

Why I Ride: Lester Blumberg.

What is it that gets me out of bed before dawn to drive down to Foxborough and cycle 100 miles?  It isn’t just the party at the end of the ride!

My passion for the Rodman Ride for Kids is driven by the vital mission of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, by the real difference JBBBS makes in the lives of children in need and adults with disabilities, and by the way my own life has been enriched by my friendship with a terrific kid who just needed an adult to hang out, have fun and eat ice cream (lot’s of ice cream!) with him. It is easy for me to appreciate the value in what we do, since I see it firsthand.  What is so touching is that my community of friends and family also see the value, and donate to support my participation in the Ride.  The money we raise goes directly to supporting this important work. The ride is really just the icing on the cake.

JBBBS gives Lester a good reason to Rodman Ride.

JBBBS gives Lester a good reason to Rodman Ride.

Did I mention the great party?  Riders support more than 45 agencies and share a common dedication to serving kids and supporting the devoted staff and volunteers who have dedicated their careers (and free time) to making better the lives of children and families in our communities who are in need.  We finish the ride tired and hungry, uplifted by music and the cheers of friends, old and new.

This will be my sixth Rodman Ride.  In the years since my first Ride on a clunker of a mountain bike, I have become something of a cycling enthusiast.  I upgraded my bike, and cycling keeps me in pretty good shape.  But I always come back to the Rodman Ride.  It’s why I ride today. It’s the cause that gives my enthusiasm for riding a deeper meaning.

Join us this year!  You won’t regret it!

Why I Ride: Caryn Love.

In fall 2013, I participated in the Rodman Ride for Kids for the first time.  A former Big Sister, I joined the agency’s clinical team that August.

I was excited for the Ride, but I was also pretty nervous. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I didn’t even own one!  I was reassured however that 25 miles isn’t so bad, “most of it is downhill anyway,” and, indeed, I could do it. I had only five weeks to train. First things first: I hopped on a bike at the gym and commenced my search for a bike for Ride day.

Here in the office, my colleagues lent their support. One’s wife had a bike I could borrow, another offered me hers because she wasn’t riding… In the end, I took Lisa Cohen, our Vice President of Programs, up on her offer.  Her husband even lent me a bike rack! With bike in hand, I went on my first training ride through Brighton and Newton. I was nervous to drive through traffic but, after about five miles, felt surer of myself and continued on. I managed to ride 15 miles for the first time in my life that day. Ten more? A piece of cake, I thought.

On the day of the Ride, Harvey Lowell [JBBBS President/CEO] and his son, Shalom, rode on their tandem bike, and I started the race with them.  We rode together much of the time with Harvey and Shalom helping to lead the way.  It really was a lot of fun.  We made it to the first water stop where we had some snacks, saw all our JBBBS friends, and it was off for the rest of the ride.  It was a beautiful day and quite exhilarating to ride those 25 miles through Sharon and surrounding towns.

Caryn and Shalom

Caryn and Shalom at the water stop.

At the end, going through the finish line, I was tired and definitely ready to get off the bike. I was also  touched by the support both from JBBBS colleagues and volunteers who were ringing bells and cheering.  I was so happy that I was encouraged to ride and can’t wait to do it all over again!

 

Why I Ride: Harvey Lowell.

In 1990, I had the dubious distinction of being the very last person to finish the very first Rodman Ride for Kids.

Sure, it was pouring cold rain all day and I had no raingear, only layers of soggy t-shirts. Sure, I was riding a rickety, borrowed bicycle 100 miles (the only route we did then). And yes, I made a wrong turn and went five miles out of the way with the chase van right behind me until they finally realized it. But am I bitter? Do I have any excuses? No and no.

And more importantly, have I ridden and/or donated to virtually every Ride since then? The answer to that is an emphatic ‘yes.’ I got myself a brand new bike right after that first ride so that I’d never finish last again. I’ve ridden the beautiful 100 miles many times, the 50 miles a couple; and the 25 frequently, always accompanied by my son on the back of our tandem bike. I’ve only been out in the rain one other time, and that was more like a drizzle. Don Rodman, President of the Ride for Kids, has some sort of divine weather connection, is my guess.

One reason why I’m so committed to the Ride is that it is an incredibly unique, fun and truly communal experience. In the past 23 years, the Ride has grown from about 50 riders to more than 1300, from about $50,000 raised to about $11.3 million. Another is that the collaboration among the now nearly 50 agencies represented at the Ride is completely unprecedented. But most important, the fact that Don Rodman can bring together a community of riders, volunteers and donors to make such a big difference in the lives of kids who have so few other constituencies and supporters. It makes this experience one of the highlights of my year. The feeling of the day gives you energy for months. If you’ve never done it, don’t keep missing out, just join in. You definitely won’t regret it.