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Volunteer Spotlight: Marion Simon

April 19, 2012

Marion Simon, Actors Fund volunteer extraordinaire. Photo by Jim Manley.

To mark National Volunteer Week, we thought we’d take some time to thank all of the generous people who have donated their time and talents to The Actors Fund.

What we do is made possible — and even better — by the vast array of individuals who help The Fund in a variety of ways: Those who volunteer in our offices and at our events; the people who have participated in programs like the HIV/AIDS Initiative Buddy Program; the creative folk who run activities like free yoga, meditation or art classes at The Schermerhorn, Friedman, and Palm View; the generous souls who take time to visit, perform, and lead activities like music, writing or other creative activities at The Lillian Booth Actors Home; the doctors who offer free health services through the Broadway Docs program; the performers, directors, stage managers, musicians, producers, theatre managers and others who donate their talents to make our benefit evenings possible; the Looking Ahead alums who mentor the program’s current young participants; the actors, editors, hair and make-up artists, cinematographers, lighting designers, and others who make things like our Podcast Series and PSAs possible; and many, many others.

And the numbers show just how wonderful they all are: In 2011, 516 volunteers donated 63,350 hours, valued at $230,261. Amazing!

One of our longest-serving, most dedicated volunteers is Marion Simon, who, at 90 years young, just happens to be the mother of our very own Patch Schwadron, The Actors Fund Work Program’s Career Counselor Supervisor. We asked her to share a little bit about her background with us, and she sent us this lovely response:

AWP Volunteer Marion and her daughter Patch Schwadron, who is one of our fabulous Actors Fund Work Program counselors. Photo by Jim Manley.

Philadelphia born in 1923, I received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1944, and an MA from Brown 1962. In between I had two great kids, one now with the Department of Health in Rhode Island, and the other a proud member of the Actors Fund Work Program.

When my Orthopod husband passed in 1993, I retired to Manhattan, where I am so pleased to be useful to The Fund as the oldest data entry clerk/volunteer around.

In 1964, Trinity Repertory Company’s founding Artistic Director, Adrian Hall, hired me as what we jokingly referred to as “faut de mieux,” or whatever position we couldn’t afford to hire an expert. I learned the ins and outs of theatre management from a master, and eventually participated with him in some of the operation itself. I assisted in the casting, fundraising, educational projects, scheduling, subscription management and general planning.

When I came to New York, I was welcomed by colleagues from throughout my 25 years with Trinity, and asked to join the League of Professional Theatre Women, for which I now serve as a member of the Board of Directors and enjoy tremendously.

I believe it was the famous British writer E. M. Forster who suggested the mantra “only connect,” which I hold dear. It is what the elderly need to enjoy their lives, and I have it with my lovely family, The Fund and the League.

Actors Work Program Job Developer Billie Levinson had this to say about Marion:  “For 9 years, Marion volunteered for The Fund around 15 – 20 hours/week – sometimes more if one of us were out sick or on vacation. She learned multiple databases and was also able to work the phones disseminating information about all our programs to callers. For the last two years, she has done her data entry work from home. She is also a fabulous conduit to the theater community and was responsible for a number of AWP members getting interesting, theater related sideline jobs. It was truly a gift to have her in the office – and even though she is still working for us from home, we miss her presence very much. Marion is an inspiration and illustration of how rich senior life can be. Almost every week someone would come in for Orientation and be thrilled when they saw her – they remembered her from as long as 30 or more years ago when she impacted their lives/careers in her role working with Adrian at Trinity Rep.  It was like having a little piece of theater history right here at AWP.”

Thank you, Marion — and every one of our 516 volunteers — for your dedicated service! If you’d like to volunteer for The Fund, visit our website for a list of the many ways you can help. We’d love to have you!

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