“Do something good every day for someone else, and every day make somebody smile,” suggests Eugene (Gene) Malkowych, Poverello’s latest Volunteer In Profile (VIP).
Born and raised Detroit by his Russian Grandmother, Malkowych is fluent in Russian. He plays the guitar, and he sings in church every Sunday at St. Nicholas Episcopal. If that were not enough, he is, or has been a copywriter, a photographer, a radio personality, a baker, and an astute observer of life. Gene still makes time to repair electronics now and then for Poverello’s thrift store. He refers to an old Russian proverb: “after you die, there will be plenty of time to sleep.”
After graduation from college, Gene began working in radio production and sales. When he decided to leave Detroit he already had a couple of radio shows on the air. Moving on to greener pastures, San Francisco and Flagstaff beckoned before he returned to Detroit. Subsequently, he traveled to Irvine, California to work for NBC.
“By and by, a friend from Miami called me asked do you still do photography? I answered, yes, but not as much. She pressed on,” says Malkowych. “Why don’t you come here? You’ll have a great time. Okay, I replied, I’ll give it a try. So, I moved to Miami and went to work for Miami-Dade County as a photographer.”
“Before long, I began to hear a lot of nice things about Fort Lauderdale,” he recalls. “I had a couple of friends who liked to go to art galleries. I started hanging around with the art gallery circuit and with the artists. I would take pictures of their work and collections for them. In time, a friend of mine opened a gallery and I went into business with him collecting and supporting local art.”
Through his friendship with the Founder of Poverello, Father Bill Collins, Gene has been a volunteer for Poverello from its earliest beginnings. “After mass one day I started talking with him, we got along really, really good. And we shared a lot of jokes and a lot of good things, and I said, you know, you’re such a nice guy, what can I do for you? And he said, well, I have this thrift store…”
“It is a lot of fun here,” Gene declares, “like a big family. I got along so well with Father Bill. I’m probably the only guy that ever got a videotape of him baking. He liked to bake. When he couldn’t sleep at night, he would cook and bake. When I would go to his place, he would be making these wonderful cakes. They looked like they came from a French bakery.”
“I think Father Bill is still looking out for us,” he continues. “I have the feeling he is still around here. For some people the reason to come here is to get a haircut, or pick up a bag of groceries, but that’s not what makes it for me. It is the opportunity to come in and do something good for somebody; put a smile on somebody’s face; and do something good for someone other than you.”
“I wish I had a book or a roadmap that says this is what you’re supposed to do in life,” Gene offered. “We’re kind of going blindfolded through life. You have to rely on who you are as an individual; who you are as a person; your morals and values; how you were brought into this world and what you have learned while you were here. I couldn’t get by without doing something good.”
“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” ~Winston Churchill
Article written by Charles Johnson, Poverello Volunteer