The practice of medicine is unique, reflects Robert Rogoff (ADL '39, MED '42). "It gives you the opportunity to help someone else while satisfying your own needs. Everyone benefits." Helping others has been a central theme throughout Dr. Rogoff's life. In addition to being, along with his wife, Beryl, a generous, long-time benefactor to Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Rogoff has also spent 11 years actively involved in improving the quality of life for people in need through his volunteer activities.
When he retired from the staff of Venice Hospital in Florida in 1987, Dr. Rogoff was determined to find worthwhile ways to spend his time. It wasn't long before he discovered opportunities to put his talents and interests to good use, first at a youth boxing club and currently as a volunteer at the local free clinic.
"The boxing club was started as a way to keep young people off the street and away from drugs and crime," says Dr. Rogoff. "I would fix punching bags and put the kids' tape and gloves on. After they got to know me a little better, I started helping them with their school work, too."
The tutoring sessions eventually evolved into field trips to local museums and tourist attractions where the Akron native would try to expose his inner city charges to as many learning opportunities as possible. Dr. Rogoff remembers one youngster especially well. The teenager had dropped out of school to take a job as a field hand. After working all day in the hot sun, the young man, a promising boxer, would come to the gym to train.
"I told him that his boxing would improve a great deal if he didn't come into training exhausted after spending eight hours doing physical labor. I offered to pay for his tuition and books if he would consider enrolling in the local vo-tech school," Dr. Rogoff says.
Although the young fighter initially rejected the doctor's prescription for success, he later accepted the offer and went on to complete his GED and get a job as an electrician.
Dr. Rogoff's efforts at Sarasota Hospital's free clinic a few evenings a week offer him a similar sense of satisfaction as the kind he experienced working with the teens at the boxing club. The clinic offers free care to the medically indigent—those who have no insurance or inadequate insurance—and Dr. Rogoff, along with some other retired physicians, provides a broad range of services to both children and adults.
"It's important to be able to help others, to be part of the reason for someone's success and well being," says Dr. Rogoff. Taking this philosophy a step further, he has provided for student scholarships at Case's School of Medicine, using charitable remainder trusts. Meanwhile the trusts supplement Dr. and Mrs. Rogoff's income during retirement. Considering all of the people he has touched—through his practice, at the boxing club and with his scholarship gifts to Case—he has a lot to feel great about.
* A teacher of philanthrophy