Committed to New York Cares’ mission of meeting pressing community needs by mobilizing volunteers in New York City, members of the Rising Leaders Council spearhead volunteer projects as Team Leaders, paint murals in city schools on New York Cares Day, turn a night on the town into a successful fundraiser, and, as networking extraordinaires, connect their friends and colleagues to the organization. Raising more than $150,000 every year, this dedicated group of millennial New Yorkers ranks among New York Cares’ largest base of support and demonstrates a dynamic, multi-faceted approach to making NYC a better place for all.
Julian Keogh, a member of the Rising Leaders Council, joined New York Cares as a volunteer in 2011 and quickly became a Team Leader later that year. After leading his own Job Success Mentoring Project with Goodwill Industries, Julian went on to design his own volunteer projects and served as a Site Captain for New York Cares Day (both fall and spring editions) each year between 2011 and 2013. Julian was honored with the New York Cares Leadership Award in 2013 and joined the Rising Leaders Council in 2014. He is currently Assistant Vice President for USI Insurance Services.
When I turned 25, my 87-year-old grandmother, Angela, became my best friend. At this point she was aging, quickly, and needed a bit more help than I think she was comfortable with. Angela was always very independent, since my grandfather passed away at a young age and she lived on her own for almost 50 years.
I started making frequent trips to Long Island to help her out. I would take her grocery shopping, to the hair salon, we’d enjoy a meal at her favorite diner, drive and listen to music; sometimes, we would just spend a few hours together outside of the house. These trips became the thing I most looked forward to, afternoons on the town with my grandmother. Outside of fulfilling her basic needs for groceries and so forth, I’m confident that these outings kept her young(er). Our weekly trips were not only good for her physical health but her mental health as well. We would debate everything, talk current events, pop culture, her former career; it kept her sharp.
My grandmother was fortunate to have not just a grandson, but a friend that enjoyed her company. Knowing our time together was very valuable to her, I wanted to bring that same value to senior citizens that weren’t as fortunate. I decided to become a Team Leader for New York Cares and design my own senior citizen project. I wanted to create something that involved getting folks out of their chairs, moving, socializing, and challenging each other.
I created a project at the Isabella Geriatric Center titled “Playing Wii Games with Seniors.” I brought a Nintendo Wii system to the senior center, and, every Wednesday night, I would head to the Isabella along with 2-3 volunteers for an hour or two and play Wii Mario Kart with any and all willing participants. I made some great friends at the Isabella and still have the handmade Valentine’s Day card from a woman who I got to know well.
Through this experience, I knew there was even more that I could do. That was when I discovered the Rising Leaders Council, a group of like-minded individuals who, at one point or another, knew there was more that they could do as well. I joined the council three years ago and I’m really grateful for the friends I’ve made, the funds we’ve raised, and the impact we’ve had on New York Cares and our shared community.
I’m proud of the work I do for New York Cares and, while she passed away last year at the age of 92, I know my grandmother, Angela, would be too.