Friday, February 1, 2008

ReServists Dig In at Brooklyn DA’s Office

Mary Hughes, confidential secretary to Kings County DA Charles Hynes, oversees a trio of talent from ReServe that includes Seymour Herschberg, MD; Nathan (Nat) Fuchs, Esq.; and David Krutchik, former advertising and marketing executive. “I am very impressed with them,” she says. “They are so professional…. We couldn’t hire these people normally.”

Hynes, in his fifth term as district attorney, says his office was under-funded when he got there, and it still is, so he has respect for his legion of volunteers, including the three ReServists.

“They are committed,” Mary says now that they are in place. “They bring initiative. They immediately jumped in and started working.”

These ReServist positions are made possible through a contract with the NYC Department for the Aging in which City agencies are authorized to engage ReServists for six-month consultancy type positions. This is the first such contract for civic engagement with a municipality in the country, said ReServe Executive Director Claire Altman, and “represents very forward thinking by NYC in utilizing the talents of its older citizens to accomplish tasks that would otherwise go undone.”

Herschberg works on medical evidence with the Kings County medical examiner. He is a former hospital administrator and has experience as a legal consultant and in grant writing, insurance, managed care and elder care.

Fuchs, a former corporate attorney who did pro bono work with the Legal Aid Society, and Krutchik, the advertising and marketing executive, are assigned to the Crime Prevention Bureau and specifically to the more than 20 Neighborhood Office programs set up under Hynes’ watch.

Fuchs, in concert with a detective assigned to the DA’s office, is concentrating on elder welfare. They visit senior centers and their directors to assess interest in, and schedule presentations on, personal and financial safety for Brooklyn’s older residents. Earlier Fuchs completed a similar but unrelated program at the Stanley Isaacs Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“I’ve been given wide latitude in making the decisions necessary to fulfill my responsibilities,” Fuchs says. He adds, “I’ve thus far found my work to be extremely enjoyable.”

Krutchik, is helping to create an awareness campaign for the DA’s Neighborhood Office program. “The Brooklyn DA has established a high-profile reputation for the crime prevention programs,” he says. Issues range from safe lending and borrowing and safe housing to child protection, drug treatment alternatives and family justice.

While the DA’s office focuses on protecting all residents, Mary says the county’s 400,000 seniors seem most vulnerable. Society as a whole, she says, spends too many of its resources on the young. “But you’re young for such a short period of time.”

“If we don’t think about making growing older a wonderful experience, we’re missing out,” she continues, noting that as a worker the longer you’re in the job, the more perks you get. Yet, in retirement, “the older you get, the fewer perks you get.

“We should celebrate our elders, not penalize them.”

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