Jerry Rothman helps people tell their stories

A true lifelong learner, Jerry Rothman is always seeking out new activities. Eight years ago he first learned about OASIS when he overheard some people talking about volunteering as tutors. Curious about volunteer opportunities, he made an appointment with the St. Louis OASIS volunteer manager to find out what was available. One of the opportunities was the Oral History Program where people record their memories and life stories on video for their loved ones. 

"This immediately turned me on. I wish I had learned more about my heritage when my parents were alive, so the opportunity to help others leave the gift of their memories as a legacy would be a very special thing to do." At that time, the volunteer who had been doing the Oral History Program was ready to give it up in favor of other priorities, so Rothman took charge of the program.

"Everyone has a story to tell and they are all poignant," he says. Two particular stories come to his mind. One was a Rabbi who passed away soon after he recorded his oral history. Videotaping session typically last up to two hours, but the Rabbi returned four times before he completed the story of his life from 1939 through 1951, mainly in Russia during WWII. Another oral history that he remembers vividly was an elderly couple from the same Ukrainian town as Rothman's mother.

Jerry has also been a member of the Speakers Bureau, talking to groups about OASIS and what it offers. Jerry says "OASIS is one of the best kept secrets in town and one of the best deals in town because it costs nothing to belong."

Rothman enjoys many OASIS classes including city tours, philosophy, and lectures on a variety of subjects. He also enjoys the Men's Roundtable, a group of 30-35 who meet every other week to discuss current events in an open forum. "Ask any member of the Roundtable -- they will be glad to tell you that our solutions to the problems of the world are far superior to those of the agencies in charge of solving those problems."

"OASIS has enriched my life for the opportunities to volunteer, for the classes it offers, and for the friendships I have made along the way. I have received much more than I have given," says Rothman.

By Hazel Mabrey, St. Louis OASIS volunteer