From the sound of the cheers when he walked in the door at Rise’s Adult Day Program at the Emma B. Howe Northtown YMCA in Coon Rapids, you’d think a rock star had just arrived. Well, you’d be close – it’s Volunteer Mike Brisky who has come to spend time with people over the noon hour.
Since the fall of 2017, Mike has driven twice a month from his offices in the North Loop area of downtown Minneapolis to assist with some after lunch physical / recreational activities. He often takes people served in Adult Day for a walk around the track, assists them with the exercise equipment (here with Bob Grzybowski), plays a friendly game of floor hockey, or shoots some hoops. Other days you may find Mike helping with a special project, playing a game, or just enjoying a casual conversation with someone.
“From my first time here, I felt instantly connected; everyone has been so welcoming to me,” Mike remembers. “It’s a little different every time I come. I’ve tried to spend time with each person here so I can get to know them personally and foster a relationship. For me, the one-on-one times are the best.”
Rise’s Activities Coordinator Paul Herfindahl said Mike is “awesome – he’s a natural. People get excited to see him.”
Mike had always looked up to his father who owned a small business and spent his life volunteering and giving back to the community. When he died last year, Mike made it a priority to help carry on his dad’s legacy of service to others.
Mike and his brother Brian own and manage Brisky Commercial which sells commercial properties primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is expanding nationally. As vice president with nearly 15 years working in real estate, Mike oversees the execution of the company’s strategy and daily operations.
“It’s easy to get tied into your day-to-day routine and think you’re too busy, but I was inspired by my dad to look at ways I could make a difference in someone’s day, both through my work and my personal time.”
Mike said he did an online search for local volunteer opportunities and saw Rise’s postings. “I dug a little deeper into the organization and then met with Zoe (Leonard-Monrad, Rise’s volunteer coordinator). She took me to a few different Rise locations to check out the programs and see what interested me. This group at the Y seemed like a really good fit for me.”
“We love how integrated our Adult Day programs are, operating out of YMCAs and community centers, but adding volunteers really enhances services for people Rise supports,” said Zoe. “Mike is a great example of that, as he is building wonderful relationships with each individual while also making it a special time while he’s there.”
“This is a complete change-up from my work so that makes it really fun for me,” said Mike “I look forward to my day every time I get to go there. I hope it’s fun for them, too. ”