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Stressing the importance of volunteering in Cedarhurst

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Whether it was following the Grateful Dead across the United States or becoming an Israel Defense Forces soldier, David Sussman has lived an eventful life while also discovering the importance of volunteerism along his journey.

The Community Chest South Shore’s Youth Board sponsored a conversation on volunteerism featuring the former IDF soldier, who spoke to a crowd of roughly 40 people, at Temple Beth El in Cedarhurst on Sept. 12. Sussman discussed his life experiences and why he thinks volunteering is imperative. “Volunteering has been a huge part of my life and has made me the man I am today,” he said. “I did not realize the power of giving back until I began serving in the IDF in 2006.” 

A Boston native, Sussman detailed his rough upbringing, which eventually led him to moving to Israel in his early 20s because of his Jewish faith. He decided to enlist in the IDF after a tragedy hit close to home. “When I was in Israel, I worked at a restaurant called Mike’s that was in Tel Aviv,” he said. “One day, two terrorists came to Tel Aviv, Israel looking to kill as many people as possible. They managed to kill three people, including a co-worker of mine. That’s when I decided that enough was enough.” 

Sussman recalled being depressed after his time in the IDF due to a low self-esteem. “I saw an advertisement to become a tour guide by going to school for a couple of years,” he said. “One of the assignments I had to do was volunteer. When I started volunteering, I started to feel good about myself. It gave me the self confidence to walk out my door with my head held high.”

The Youth Board is made up of high school students. They aim to help other organizations, institutions and people. They raise money through donations and the two big annual Community Chest events, the 5K Run and Family Walk that was held on Sept. 1 and the Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising dinner that is typically held in November. 

Hewlett resident Jackie Kaminer has guided the board for the past 10 years and said she had previously heard about Sussman from her friends. “I’m glad all the kids were here to learn something from someone like David who knows a lot,” Kaminer said. “I had heard from friends of mine that had used David as a tour guide that said he was tremendous. It was exciting to have him speak here.” Sussman still serves as a tour guide in Israel and lives in Jerusalem with his family. 

Community Chest Treasurer Steven Liebman shared a story of how volunteerism can be simple. “Years ago, my son had a friend who needed to do community service for class credit,” he said. “He kept saying he didn’t have the time to do it. He then came back to me and said he helped a poor family move out of their home and declined the money they offered him. It just shows that no matter how busy you are, volunteering can happen right down the street such as helping someone cross the street.” 

Sussman noted that volunteering has multiple benefits. “The most wonderful part about volunteering is to volunteer for those who can’t repay you,” he said. “Build yourself up by helping others which will help you become a valuable part of your community.”

For more information on the Community Chest South Shore Youth Board, go to https://bit.ly/2mc9Ljk.