Men Talk Articles - Feb / Mar 2014
Men Talk Interview with Randy Genrich
© 2014 Andy Mickel
Randall (Randy) Genrich has actively volunteered and staffed at the Men's Center since 1985--over 28 years! He grew up in central Wisconsin and came to the U of Minnesota and graduated in 1953 with a master's in education as a specialist in deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Over the years he has been involved with Men's Center support groups, conferences and workshops as a facilitator and participant. He was a principal in the Man-Made Radio collective on KFAI Fresh Air Radio for many years. Randy plans to turn 85 on March 1, 2014.
MT (A.M.) : I remember you got active in the Men's Center (TCMC) after the 1985 Midwest Regional Men's Conference organized by Jim Lovestar and David Kaar. You began organizing regularly scheduled Wednesday workshops (now called presentations) and have been doing that ever since.
RG: Actually, I first came to the Men's Center after seeing a support group model demonstrated at my church and led by Ron Jervy of the Minnesota Men's Council (1984 Robert Bly Conference). My wife encouraged me to stay involved at TCMC, and I met Michael Kogan White at the Men's Center annual meeting in early 1986 at the Minnesota Church Center. He and I volunteered to organized presentations twice/week, but he dropped out, and so after the 1985 conference I continued to do this (ever since) scaled back to once/week and we moved to our current building in 1986.
MT: Your job as Office Manager began in 1992 initiated by board chair David Kaar so that we had regular office hours. In that role you have been available to hundreds of men who walk-in and ask for help or resources. What is this experience like for you?
RG: I actually volunteered in the office for 8 years prior to becoming paid staff. It's gratifying and humbling that to realize that I was of value to other people. A guideline for my life is a quote from Albert Einstein: "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." So as a retired person, it's important for me to have a job where I feel fulfilled and of value to people.
MT: What do you like best about the Men's Center?
RG: The association with other people--not only walk-ins, but also what I call "Men of the Men's Center"--the volunteer facilitators, board members, and regular participants in support groups and events. Another thing I like best is just how many men have been helped by TCMC. To quote a man from a support group recently: "There was a miracle that happened to me at the Men's Center. I wouldn't be here without it."
MT: Describe the passion you have for the Men's Center as an organization.
RG: I believe there ought to be people lining up to get help here; men who don't realize there's a lot of help to get from men that they can't necessarily get from women. My passion is committed to men getting heathier, their becoming better citizens, better people in their homes and in their communities. I believe I'm able to give unconditional love to men because of the strong support I got from my father. I interviewed him for Man-Made Radio and he vowed that he would treat his kids differently than his father did.
MT: How much has your background as an educator helped you in your role as the "public face" of the Men's Center on a daily basis?
RG: I see more connection to my role as a befriender in my church where I learned to listen to people and not try to solve their problems. This idea is in our Support Group Guidelines--We don't solve people's problems; we give people the tools to be more healthy.
MT: In your judgment what are the Men's Center's best achievements?
RG: 1) The initiation of the Men Helping Men with Anger Management program.
2) Being a reliable place for men to get together with men to find a support group where they can feel comfortable in sharing their stories and being a witness to what's happening in their lives.
MT: What future do you want to see for the Men's Center?
RG: I hope we can have a temporary housing facility for so many men and their children who cannot find a place to live--that is one hope. But I think the future of the Men's Center is to continue what we're doing with support groups. I want to see more men take advantage of what we have to offer. I want us to do more outreach to more men and women, to encourage more men to come to the Men's Center, as my wife did for me 29 years ago.
Andy Mickel is a long-time volunteer at the Twin Cities Men's Center, a many-year board member, and often referred to as "the historian of TCMC."