At 100 years old, service is his secret sauce

Volunteering has given Arthur Seidman so many relationships he relishes—with patients, family and staff.

Encounters from a 22-year volunteer career at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) are among Arthur Seidman favorite memories.

“Time is precious,” said Mr. Seidman. “It’s a good feeling to help someone.”

It sure is. And Mr. Seidman realized that soon after he began his post-retirement volunteer career in 1995. “My son, Steven [an obstetrician/gynecologist at NSUH], suggested I give volunteering a try. I’ve always been a very active person, so I did a lot of things until I found my current niche. I applied myself very conscientiously.”

Mr. Seidman started helping in the NSUH surgical waiting room 18 years ago. Considering the space an important reflection of the entire hospital, he still volunteers there to reassure people as they await the outcome of their loved one’s operation.

“It’s very stressful for some people,” Mr. Seidman said. “You can see and feel their tension. So I try to alleviate that tension by talking with them and telling them that we have a very fine staff of doctors.

“This is a very fine hospital,” he said. “I’ve been a patient here, so I know.” Mr. Seidman broke his shoulder years ago, and recovered fully under the care of an NSUH surgeon. “When the doc sees me in the halls, he lifts his arms up. He’s proud of what he did for me.”

Chemotherapy patients at the Monter Cancer Center in New Hyde Park also benefit from Mr. Seidman’s attention. “It’s a special service, because my wife died of cancer and I feel that I’m giving back. The patients are so appreciative of what we do. We speak to them, listen to them. We help by offering them something to drink or a snack, and offer them good conversation.”

Besides his son, who volunteered at NSUH as a teen, Mr. Seidman also has a daughter, and two granddaughters and a grandson who live in Manhattan. He still drives, and wears glasses only to read. “I’m blessed with mental capacity and good health. I hardly miss a day. If it’s a heavy snowfall, my daughter calls me to say I can’t go in. But I don’t live that far away. It’s a commitment.”

He continued, “I’m doing something I want to do. I don’t have to do it — there’s a big difference. I tell my fellow veterans that the hospital can certainly use their help. Older people should use the wisdom of their years.

“It’s been a long life. I’m 100. I don’t think I’m special; we’re all special. Have I had tragedy in my life? We all do. I never knew my mother [the 1919 influenza pandemic claimed her when he was two]. But my father was a role model.”

Certainly, Mr. Seidman has been a role model for countless others. “I’ve made it my business to be very friendly to as many people as I meet. And I always say to them, ‘When you see me in the halls here, always say hello.’”

His birthday wish? “That my kids will be happy and have the long, healthy years that I have had.”

There are countless opportunities to volunteer with Northwell.

Featured in the following publications:

The New Standard 2017