Born: New York City
Currently resides: East Village, New York City
Volunteer: Eleven years
"For me, it's payback time for my son and his memory."
What was it that brought you to volunteer at GMHC?
My son died of AIDS. He was extremely active here at GMHC. He would bring me with him occasionally, for certain meetings, and dinner on a Friday night. After he died, I really felt that I wanted to do some work in the place where he was so very happy and interested. I would continue for him.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do here at GMHC?
On Tuesday, I'm in the Legal Department. Tuesday is open house in and clients come into the Legal Department and fill out papers. I do the initial interview. I find out whatever the problem is, and then, because the lawyers are specialized in certain areas, I refer them to the correct lawyer. On Wednesdays I'm in the Development Department, where I do mostly filing work.
What about your volunteer experience particularly stands out for you?
I've been here longer than many and I'm very happy to know so many fine men and women that I work with and for. They're really outstanding. Everybody's very kind, and that's especially nice for a volunteer. My background — I've been the principal of a school — lends itself to working with people. In the Legal Department, the interviews are based on the experience I've had in the past — not the problems, but the whole interpersonal relationship that you're able to have.
How does GMHC support its volunteers?
The whole volunteer system is very well organized. You're placed in a situation and the people that you work with immediately respond to you as a volunteer and the job that you do for them. Everybody is very courteous and very friendly and they make it a comfortable place for me, which is wonderful and is why I like to come back each week. That's why I stay with GMHC, because the volunteer program is done with respect to the individual. They definitely do need and depend on volunteers, and the work is set up so that you can be useful and work in a friendly atmosphere.
What do you do when you're not volunteering?
I love theater. I have friends, and I travel a great deal, all over the world. I've been all over Europe, and I've been to Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Turkey, and in the winter I plan to go to India. That's a very exciting part of my life — it's really wonderful. And I have family — stepchildren and granchildren and my own brothers. We're close as a family.
What else would you like readers to know?
I think, for me, volunteering here is like payback time for my son and his memory. I feel like I'm very close to the situation of the people here, those who are working as well as those who are HIV-positive or who have AIDS. It gives me good feelings to be a part of it, very good feelings.