Making A Difference: Gordon Schacher
Inspired to give by his late wife, Elke, Gordon Schacher started The Elke Junger Making A Difference Fund on the concept of making a difference, one individual at a time. “One day, Elke came home and said, ‘I’ve just been at Target, and a man outside asked me for money. Instead, I asked him what he needed. He said a sleeping bag, so I went inside and bought him one.’”
As Gordon tells it, this single incident inspired decades of giving to the unhoused of Monterey.
I just want to see good things happen.” – Gordon Schacher
“At first, I just started bringing people things. Whatever they needed – food, supplies. I’d sit and eat a meal with everyone. I got to know the people very well.” Every week for years, Gordon visited a men’s encampment in Monterey and delivered meals and other necessities.
“A few years after Elke passed, I thought, I’d like to do something for her. She started this whole thing. And it all came together naturally.” Thus was born the Elke Junger Making A Difference Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC).
Gordon recommends grants to homeless service providers, including Gathering for Women and Dorothy’s Place, for direct support for individuals. “What matters to me most is working directly with the homeless – helping people with day to day living,” says Gordon, who manages the fund with his son.
Gordon, now 87, was never one to stand still, moving to Monterey in 1964 with a graduate degree in physics to teach at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), founding a gymnastics club to coach his daughter, and starting a one-man consulting firm after retiring from NPS as Dean of Faculty.
Gordon describes “having two interests currently: art and the homeless.” His neat, carefully curated home is filled with art, including many of his own colorful landscape paintings, some of which were included in a local exhibition. Photos of Elke line the corner of his bedroom, next to a vibrant painting that she made.
“What I care about is having the ‘Making a Difference’ concept continue,” he says. “I just want to see good things happen.” Regarding working with the CFMC, Gordon shares, “It’s just fantastic! I’m hoping this will last another 20 years, that people will spread the word to help.”
It’s our responsibility to do something. And it’s fun! People are always totally amazed to have help, to have needs filled. It makes me feel happy to give.” – Gordon Schacher