Volunteers play an essential role in BC/EFA’s success. From helping with collections, to stuffing envelopes to providing manual labor for major events, our core group of volunteers makes our work possible. This week, we’re offering the first in an ongoing series of articles profiling these vital – and sometimes underappreciated – people who give us their time, energy and creativity.
By Andy Smith
With a background in high-end retail sales and a degree in sociology, its no surprise that volunteer Gail Perlman loves our annual Flea Market and Grand Auction.
“I hate to choose a favorite event, but the flea market is my number one,” admits Perlman, who adds, “I’m great at selling.”
The challenge of analyzing people and getting them to make a purchase dovetails perfectly into Perlman’s professional background, which includes experience as a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman and her current position as co-manager of Landau, a luxury jeweler located in Trump Tower. She’s also been a successful entrepreneur. In the late 1980s, Gail launched and managed Gailbeths, a Connecticut-based boutique with two locations. “We even got featured in Vogue,” she says.
A native New Yorker (“I was born at Beth Israel”), Gail attended college at the University of Miami, but returned to New York afterward, later spending a number of years as a homemaker in Connecticut.
She and Broadway Cares discovered each other at a crossroads in her life. “I was going through a divorce, and my sister-in-law Carol suggested I volunteer my time here. She was really instrumental in getting me here.”
Since then, the energetic redhead has become a valued asset, giving her time to exciting events like Easter Bonnet, and more mundane tasks like stuffing envelopes, a group task which gave her the opportunity to bond with fellow volunteers. “They’ve become like a family and some have become my closest friends,” she says. “It’s been a really unbelievable experience. When I think about all the support I’ve received from (volunteer coordinator) Scott Stevens and the other volunteers, I start to get choked up.”
A theater buff who lists her favorite shows as Wicked, Doubt and Phantom of the Opera, working for BC/EFA lets Gail combine this love with a long-term commitment to fighting AIDS, a cause she’s supported since the 1980s. “AIDS is my cause; theater is my passion,” she says.
In fact, Gail plans to turn this commitment into a new career path. “I really want to work for a non-profit, and I’d love to do something in the arts,” she says, adding, “If anyone knows of anything, let me know. I’m looking!”