I was a volunteer with Vic for Share and had the privilege of his friendship for more than 20 years. I can say with a mixture of profound respect, joy, and now tears that he was my best friend. That we were both from Brooklyn helped strengthen our bond. It is my honor to help give voice to so many of Vic’s friends and the many others who he influenced during his nearly 30 years volunteering with Share.
I first met Vic during one of our million-dollar rides with Share’s furniture program. For those who are unfamiliar, a million-dollar ride is an opportunity for prospective volunteers to see for themselves the million-dollar homes of furniture donors, then to deliver those furniture donations that same day to the less fortunate among our clients — who generally live in apartments you would not accept a million dollars to live in yourselves. I remember very clearly my first million-dollar ride. It was a particularly hot, miserable August day that I rode along with Vic and Stew Lingley in one of Share’s old, ramshackle trucks. For those of you who remember it fondly, it was the old yellow truck. No air conditioning, of course. There I was huffing, puffing and sweating, struggling to push and pull sofas and dining room tables up three flights of stairs while navigating narrow hallways and even narrower doorways. And I could not have been happier. The three of us stopped for lunch and as I sat with Vic and Stew in that diner’s booth, I realized I had found my happy place. To this day, my Saturday mornings are meant to be out in a truck with my Share buddies, moving furniture and bringing a little bit of caring and happiness to our clients’ lives.
Vic has been an active volunteer with Share for nearly 30 years. He was initially recruited to the furniture program and continued moving sofas and tables and chairs well beyond the time when Pat [Kimm, his wife], if she knew about it, would have condoned it. Well, knowing Pat, she knew about it, but she tolerated Vic’s continuing to think he was a much younger man well past the time it made sense. He served two multi-year terms as president of Share. And I know Vic was the face of Share here at St. Luke and in the wider McLean community. He was a tireless champion of our core principle of treating our clients – the working poor and the less fortunate among us – with respect and dignity. At every board meeting (even over Zoom during the past 18 months), Vic would affirm to us all his firm belief in focusing on meeting the needs of our neighbors. He also made sure we focused on maintaining trust and giving hope. The Share board is inclined to be conservative with our spending, wanting to be responsible stewards of our donors’ money. But Vic’s attitude was to spend the money we have to help those who don’t have. He was impatient with that instinct to preserve our funds, and he believed God would provide. And he was never wrong. He brought his faith to the table, demonstrating through his deeds how deeply he cared about every single person we served.
In preparing for today’s remarks, I spoke with a half dozen of my fellow SHARE volunteers. What struck me was that without fail, every person told me how much Vic cared about working with our clients and how much he cared about bringing out the best in all of us. The best example of this is also one of the most poignant observations I heard. A volunteer told me that Vic had helped to reshape the way he sees the world around him and how he relates to other people.
Vic was truly a champion of those in need. This is a precept that particularly resonates with my Jewish faith, a core principle of which is “tikkun olam” (tee-KOON oh-LUHM) — the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice. Vic truly upheld this tenet in his life. Time and again since his death I have heard how blessed we all were to be witness to, and to learn from, his tireless dedication to the good of others. And how blessed everyone felt to have his staunch friendship.
On the morning of the very last day of his life, Vic called me from the hospital to find out how the previous evening’s board meeting had gone. He particularly wanted to make sure we were being generous with the funds we had available through the kindness and generosity of everyone in this community..
From Vic I learned early to treasure the experience of being part of Share. Starting on that sweltering summer day 20 years ago, Vic and I have shared the very profound sense that our closeness to God comes from doing for others. Through the years, my own two kids and my two nephews benefited from Vic’s influence on me. They have helped deliver furniture and sort food donations. Thanks to this experience, they will always value volunteering as a regular part of their lives.