Keith Rand, LMFT, CGP, FAGPA
I was raised in an observant Jewish family, where my mother kept a kosher home, in Long Branch on the Jersey Shore. I had three sets of grandparents, all of whom came over from Russia or Poland in the early part of the last century to find a path to new and better lives. As a child, I went to an old-fashioned Hebrew School, in the rear of a very old teacher’s home, three times a week. I also went with my stepfather and younger brother to our Orthodox synagogue every Sabbath morning where services were only in Hebrew.
It was in that nurturing environment where I learned one of those key values—that of giving to charity and being generous of heart (and wallet) to others. The Hebrew word for this is tzedakah. We were not a wealthy family. My stepfather was an attorney who did a lot of work for the poor and, in my mother’s mind, didn’t charge enough for his services. His integrity was so respected that he became the town judge. Even though we didn’t have a lot, he always taught us that giving to organizations that helped others was a mitzvah—a commandment and a good deed.
I am indebted to him for instilling this value in me because I now find that being generous feels good. It is with this motivation that I joined the Board of the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health in 2011. Having just survived three years of awful liver disease, I saw the importance of doing what I could for AGPA in whatever time I had left on the planet. I had been running three process groups a week for 20 years, and the work was an enjoyable and meaningful part of my life. So why not give back and, as we now say, “pay it forward?”
Through the money we raise, we make it possible for students and new professionals with fewer resources to experience the training and warm community that AGPA offers us. The Scholarship Program has made it possible for many of my younger friends to take a step into AGPA, and most of them now ongoingly add to the organization. It thrills me to watch this.
But the Group Foundation does so much more. We provide services at man-made and natural disasters, as well as to veterans, military and their children; award research grants; and advocate and spread the word about the group modality.
As a Board member, I constantly ask people for money (not necessarily fun nor easy) to support the work the Foundation does, and I hope that people will be as generous as they can be, since it’s true that every bit helps. In the beginning years of my AGPA membership, my husband and I gave only a little, but we have since been fortunate enough to give more. I think that if others can do the same, this will feel good to them, adding to their self-views, so I learned to see my asking as a gift and invitation, whether I ask AGPA members, family members, or friends, and whether it’s for no special reason or to mark a special occasion.
I left the Board of the Group Foundation last year when my work as an AGPA Board member became my main focus. But I continue to be so grateful for the time I spent on the Group Foundation Board, for the wonderful family I developed there, and for the gifts you have given to the Foundation in response to our asking. It is so much appreciated.