Gary and Marlene Perkins: “We Get Back as Much as We Give”
JF&CS News Winter 2016
“We try to look each year where we can help in ways that are important and meaningful for us and for the community,” explained Gary Perkins. “When we could, we gave financially or when we couldn’t early on, we tried to give our time.”
Earlier this year, Gary and his wife Marlene demonstrated their commitment to JF&CS by making a multi-year philanthropic gift to the Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support® (CERS). “This was the perfect opportunity not only for them, but also for us,” he adds. “We realized how important the program was and how important it was to Marlene personally.”
Marlene’s devotion to CERS is unmistakable. “I was a Visiting Mom volunteer with JF&CS for ten years,” said Marlene enthusiastically. “I loved doing it and I think the program does so much good for new moms in our community. It also helped my own personal growth as a mother and a grandmother and as an active listener in life.”
Marlene originally became involved with JF&CS when her children had finished high school. She was done with PTO meetings, school volunteerism, and all the other activities she had done to support her children’s growth. One day, her daughter asked her what she was going to do now that she and her brother were out of the house. Marlene replied, “Anything I want!” and adds that she knew it was her “Aha moment.”
A friend who was volunteering with the program told her about Visiting Moms. Marlene was intrigued. “I love being a mom, I loved raising my kids and being home with them, and I thought I had done a pretty good job with them,” she quips.
She looked into the program and soon Marlene was participating in training to become a Visiting Mom. Unfortunately, during her training, both Marlene’s mother and son fell ill and she had to devote enormous time and energy to their needs. Her mother asked if perhaps the Visiting Moms training might be too much, in addition to taking care of her family at that time. “Out of everything I’m doing right now,” replied Marlene, “this is the only thing I’m doing for me” and she stuck with the program.
“In the beginning, I remember thinking ‘Is there really a need for this? I raised my kids without it.’ Then I was surprised by how great the need is for a myriad of reasons. Moms need support more today because there is more pressure and more information that they don’t know how to process. To have someone offer unconditional support and non-judgmental listening is key.”
After volunteering as a Visiting Mom for more than 10 years, circumstances in Marlene’s life had changed. Gary had retired as CEO of Perkins Paper, Inc., a family-owned business, and the couple found themselves traveling more, especially to Israel, where their son and his family had moved. Marlene felt that she could no longer give 100 percent to the program and felt she had to retire from it. “I hated to give it up,” she says wistfully. “But we’re lucky enough to be able to give to the program in a financial way.”
Gary explains that both he and Marlene inherited their devotion to philanthropy from their parents and how they were each brought up. “Philanthropy was very important to our families and it was instilled in us. We felt it was important to teach our kids to do the same,” he adds.
Sometimes a friendly face, adult conversation, and a chance to tell someone that you feel overwhelmed can make a world of difference. The Lauren & Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program offers parents of newborns support and companionship during the challenging early months of life with a new baby. Trained volunteer Visiting Moms visit new moms at home to help them gain confidence in their new role as parents while providing non-judgmental listening and consistent support.