A Remarkable Brunch

December 15, 2011

This past Sunday, I had the real pleasure of joining the Community Volunteer Recognition Brunch at the Saban Center for Health and Wellness on the MPTF Wasserman Campus.  For a few hours on an otherwise dreary Sunday morning, I got to break bread (bagels, it was brunch) and meet up with some of the outstanding industry members who volunteer their time to support our community programs.

I’ve bragged on a bit in a previous blog about our Volunteer Guild and their incredible dedication to the Fund on campus and now it’s time to turn the spotlight on another great group who are out in the field doing everything from grocery shopping  to photographing special events to our home safety programs.  Several are also volunteering on campus as Pool Buddies.

One of the things I like most about this annual brunch is that the group is intimate enough that we get a chance to pass a microphone around and allow each industry member a few minutes to talk about his or her volunteering efforts and personal connection to the Fund.  Trust me, it’s a fascinating and moving experience.  Where else can you hear from a 90-year old former film lab technician, Richard Carlin, who’s a Grocery Shopper for a 91-year old industry retiree?  Or from Pool Buddies Trish Pattenelli, Errol Nofziger, and Dee Baker (who has helped in the rehabilitation of a wheelchair-bound industry retiree now just starting to take some small steps)? Or about Peter Marley’s work in re-creating fine carpentry details for the house of George Herthel, our Local 399 location manager who is beset with ALS?  Teresa Bond, from outside our industry, has taken on the responsibility of chairing the local ITN (Independent Transportation Network) affiliate, who we team up with to get our transportation-challenged retirees on the Westside to doctors appointments, food shopping, the hairdresser, etc.  Then there is our very own MPTF employee, Sherri Jeakle, with some basic skills from her childhood, taking her first step into volunteering by joining the Rebuilding Together program.  The stories go on and on.  How can you sit there and not marvel at how incredibly fortunate we are as an industry to have the time and support of these and the other volunteers?

What is remarkable about all of them is this:  they all acknowledge that they have personally gotten more out of their volunteer work than they could ever give back and the MPTF volunteering has enriched their lives in ways they never imagined when they first stepped up to support us.  One way or another it has been a blessing and a transformation for them.  Maurice Woodrow talked about his Friendly Visitor volunteering giving him a real sense of purpose.  For Bill Elias and Ben Cowitt, it has been a way for them to maintain their creativity and vitality through their photography.  For Ellen Crawford, head of SAG MOVE and a Friendly Visitor who took her industry friend’s dog to the groomer as part of her volunteer support, it’s been an opportunity to mobilize her fellow SAG members to form their own Buddy program.  For Bruce Eckelman, our Golden Hammer Award winner this year, it’s an opportunity to do what he loves best (you got it, swinging a hammer) for industry community members who need our help.  For Jesse Williams and Syd Gonzalez, two volunteers from outside our industry who had their own stories about how they found MPTF, it’s a chance to engage with a group of like-minded industry people who have a real mission to support each other.  And the list goes on – I don’t have the space to name them all but they know they are not unnoticed or unappreciated.

I have to confess this:  for 45 minutes I was held spellbound by this remarkable group of volunteers, on several occasions I had to brush away tears, and at the end I felt incredibly proud to be part of this organization.  Special shout-outs to the staff, led by Renee Feiger, who reach out to the community for volunteer support and then match the energies and talents of these individuals into the right situations.  This is a chance for all of you out there to think about how you might want to give back to the industry next year through MPTF’s community volunteer program.  Something good to reflect on over the holiday season!!!!

About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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One Response to A Remarkable Brunch

  1. […] I was so inspired by our annual Volunteers Guild brunch that I made it the centerpiece of one of my blogs.  Some things never change!  On Saturday, June 9th, we saluted over 100 Volunteer Guild members […]

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