In some ways, the life of retiree Michael Rubin is a giant cliche. He’s an ex-New Yorker who retired here for the sunshine and warm weather. He loves golf. He loves Florida baseball. He loves not working. But when he and his wife, Susan, moved to Lake Worth eight years ago, he also knew generosity had to be a part of their so-called golden years.
So in 2010, Rubin signed up for mentoring through the Alpert Jewish Family Service’s Judith and Jack Rosenberg Mentoring 4 Kids Program. And with that single gesture, the Manhattan retiree changed the lives of a heartbroken wife, a lost little boy, and a guy named Michael Rubin.
“It was a lifesaver, that’s all I can say,” says Diana Rivera, whose husband died of esophageal cancer when their son Andrew was 4 years old. We’ve all heard about the impact a mentor can have on a child’s life. Hollywood stars do public service announcements, begging us to invest in our children. The local bar association, schools, synagogues and churches; you can Google your way to a mentoring match easy enough.
But Rivera, who lives in Wellington, said she was incredibly impressed with the whole pairing procedure when she signed up her son, Andrew Dominguez, for the Mentoring 4Kids Program.
Program administrators took their time, asked a lot of questions, did face-to-face interviews, and – once her son was placed with Rubin – they always kept in touch, Rivera said.
Andrew’s been with Rubin since he was 8, and now Andrew is 14 and about to start high school, “Mike” at his side. By teenager standards, it’s a relationship that’s just there – comfortable and easy, predictable and maybe a tad boring. Boring in a nice, steady, “you-are-loved” kind of way.
“My life’s not that interesting, so sometimes we don’t have a lot to talk about,” says Andrew, in hilarious teenage fashion. But, sometimes, silence is all anyone needs to feel loved. “They’re wonderful people,” Rivera says. “I am just so happy they are in our lives, and we are in theirs.”
Through the years, Rubin has been there for the sports things – flag football, ice hockey, baseball. He’s been there for Cub Scouts, attending the ceremony when Andrew moved to Boy Scouts. They rarely miss a birthday or holiday together. And since driving’s around the corner, is Rubin game? “If I am asked, I imagine I would,” he says, laughing about being in the car with a newbie at the wheel.
These days, the two fellows who found each other through their changing lives mostly spend time having breakfast or dinner, catching up, talking about what’s ahead. They’ve pretty much outgrown the zoo and the science museum and putt-putt golf.
“Andrew comes in, kicks off his shoes, and turns on the TV or the computer,” Rubin says. “He belongs.”
For more information on the Mentoring 4 Kids program, please call Program Director, Jennifer DiSilvestro at 561-238-0285.