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JCHE resident Marvin Wilkenfeld wins LeadingAge 2012 Volunteer Service Award!!

Posted: September 19, 2012

Here is an excerpt from the application nominating Marvin Wilkenfeld as the recipient of LeadingAge's 2012 Volunteer Service Award. Many thanks to LeadingAge for selecting Marvin!

Marvin Wilkenfeld 76, has lived at JCHE’s Coleman House for the past eight years.  Like many who live at JCHE, Marvin contributes his skills and his time in numerous ways. But Marvin has gone beyond the involvement of most volunteers. In the past few years, Marvin has completely transformed the Coleman House convenience store that residents so greatly depend on. This is an all-encompassing endeavor that requires patience, creativity and tenacity. In doing so, Marvin truly exemplifies the spirit of service to the community. 

Prior to moving to Coleman House, Marvin spent his entire life in New York City where he owned and operated a natural food store. In the final year, he was forced to relocate the store and the business failed.  Like so many, Marvin found himself in the unplanned and surprising position of needing affordable housing. He followed a lead from a friend and applied to Coleman House.

Each JCHE building has a convenience store on site. After all, in our independent housing, many of our residents regularly cook in their apartments and they find access to a grocery store to be extremely helpful. Sadly, however, the Coleman store was never much of a success.  We lacked sufficient resources to adequately hire a manager. Our shelves were often only partially filled.  Our stock was not always compatible with what customers were seeking. Many times, the store was closed during business hours because volunteer staffing was unreliable.

Fortunately for us, Marvin came to the rescue. Not only did he understand the problems that we faced and had the expertise to address them, he was willing to roll up his sleeves and fully dive in. Today we have a store that is dependable, well stocked and a delightful hub of activity. Marving works countless hours weekly ordering food and “schlepping” groceries from Shaw’s, BJ’s, Costco or wherever the best deal can be found. He can often be found in the store at night pricing and shelving all these items. He also supervises reliable and skilled Coleman residents to handle the cash register so that the store can be open four days a week. 

Marvin is attentive to customer service. He accommodates special orders especially from residents who cannot get out easily. He is attentive to what customers want and buys accordingly. In response to great interest in local produce, Marvin has delighted shoppers by adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the inventory.

As a tribute to him – and as a reference to his beloved New York – we have named the store “Marvin’s Garden.”

Marvin provides a unique and exceptional service to the residents of JCHE’s Coleman House. He gives of himself endlessly and always with a 100% effort. He demonstrates the same level of responsibility and dedication that he brought to his Manhattan business for so many years. Marvin's labor of love is a highly valued contribution to the entire Coleman community. 



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