It takes a good volunteer to see the potential in a prospective volunteer. Allan Goldstein became involved with VIM through his friend Jane Salamon, one of VIM’s long-term, very active Trustees. After he retired, Jane suggested that Allan check with VIM to see if they could “use him” in some capacity. He quickly found not one, but two slots where he could be useful, and he finds “it’s a nice way to fill up a day when you’re retired – especially in the winter months.”
Allan has been helping out at VIM for about three years now. He answers the phone and manages the reception desk one day a week – Thursdays from 9 – 1. In addition, he maintains a discount coupon booklet route. The latter entails making a weekly call on about six businesses to see if they have sold any booklets. He replaces them as needed and returns any monies to VIM. He occasionally helps sell the discount booklet at various public events in Great Barrington or other towns in the Berkshires. While he has no past experience in sales, Allan finds the coupon booklet an easy sell. “Anything I can do to help people around here is worthwhile,” says Allan.
Allan was born and raised in Brooklyn, growing up in a middle class neighborhood. He enrolled in Business Administration at New York University and joined the military as soon as he graduated. This was in 1952. He was deployed to Korea for about 16 months as a combat engineer. His duties involved building, re-building and defending airfields from the invading armies. He was wounded and discharged with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. His advice about the military is: “Never send your children to war – NEVER!” While waiting for his discharge papers to come through, a friend invited him on a double date. He met his wife Ruth, from Long Island, on that date, and they have been together now for 60 years!
After the war, Allan went into the textile business, purchasing and running mills in North Carolina. He also became involved in the textile industry in Italy – just outside of Florence. He was in Italy for some years, commuting back and forth, and maintains his friendship with many of his fellow textile owners there. In fact, as this goes to press, Allan has just returned from what has become an annual trip to Tuscany to visit and stay with his former Italian colleagues. He speaks Italian and French, and is happy to know that a few Italian phrases that are more or less identical in Spanish. When he sold the mills in 1982 Allan moved to Spencertown, NY. He retired from the textile business in 2002. He and Ruth tried living in California for a while, but returned to the Berkshires in 2009. They now live on the outskirts of Great Barrington and are really happy here.
Allan and his wife have three children and six grandchildren. His children live in CT and Manhattan; the youngest grandchildren in Manhattan, the others on the West Coast. They vary in age from 26 to five – quite a spread! He looks forward to getting them all together in the Berkshires for special holiday gatherings.
A busy volunteer – Allan and his wife have helped prepare food for the annual VIM Volunteer Recognition party. He LOVES to cook – mostly French cuisine – and produced his own cookbook that he had printed to give to friends – Allan’s Kitchen. He is proud of his cooking skills, and also of his golf prowess – two talents that are hidden from his friends at VIM. Ruth is a member of the Gala committee – one of VIM’s significant fundraising events held each year In May.
Allan finds his work at VIM “very rewarding.” He feels good about “doing something that is very beneficial for others in the community. “ As a VIM receptionist his goal is to put people at their ease. “Patients sometimes arrive a little frightened. They are sick, and I see it as my role to try and soothe them, let them know we are here for them, talk to them, make them feel welcome. Just knowing that I’m helping them and also helping the staff, is hugely satisfying.’
“Everyone at VIM is so giving and caring. It makes it a great place to volunteer.”
by Tricia Bevan