From a young age, Director Dr. Ronald Koretz wanted to do something to help people. This desire led him to become a physician to care for people. Then, the reality of the business of medicine in the 1970s set in. The field had become like every other industry, driven by money. LA County offered Director Koretz an opportunity to serve people who had no access to healthcare. He went on to work within the county system helping others on a shoestring budget for 32 years.
Because of the lack of money available, there was always competition between departments for funding. Director Koretz had a vision of collaborating and pooling their resources for the client’s good, but the idea did not take off.
Director Koretz grew up with a father involved in a Masonic lodge. He was familiar with the organization and drawn to the camaraderie. When he asked his father how to become a Mason, his mother laughed. His father had been carrying around an application for years, waiting for him to ask. The way to become a Mason is to ask a Mason. He went to his first meeting, and a man came up to him, shook his hand, and asked how he was doing. The man stood there, waiting for a reply, honestly wanting to know how Director Koretz was. Director Koretz found the support and friendships he longed for within the lodge.
He met men who influenced him. One of those men was on the Board of Directors at The Midnight Mission (TMM), and another had recently become CEO. The lodge members knew about The Midnight Mission; they had been donating clothes to raise money for the work they do in Skid Row. At TMM’s annual fundraiser, he was approached to become a board member. He has served on the board for over 20 years now.
Director Koretz’s involvement with TMM fulfilled his need to do something that would be good for society, especially people who are limited in what they can do for themselves. He also helped with the thrift shop in east LA., another avenue to give back to the community.
Director Koretz facilitated the conversation at TMM around the Healthy Living Program. Measuring our success has always been a challenge. He met with the staff to create a measure of the success of the participants at TMM. One measure is if the men are showing up for recovery meetings. They discovered being sober was just the beginning of self-sufficiency. To measure independence, you had to look at every area of a participant’s life: sobriety, education, housing, and transportation. The committee investigated each domain’s characteristics and what it would entail for these goals to be met. The Healthy Living Program aims to give the graduates a chance at healthier lives, and with each domain accomplished, the participant thrives. In creating a life of healthy living, you change the entire world for one person.
The Midnight Mission is thankful for Director Koretz and his unique leadership to facilitate conversations to help our participants become successful and contributing members of society. With his leadership, we have taken great strides in assisting people to become the people they were meant to be.