This week on our Meet the Board Blog Series, we are pleased to introduce Ruth Erickson! Ruth is a long-time member of the GiGi’s NYC family and we feel so fortunate to have her as a part of our team. To our Summer Clubhouse families, you may remember Ruth teaching some fun cooking classes! Last year, Ruth (virtually) taught us how to make delicious hummus and fruit smoothies 😊 Ruth wears many hats within the GiGi’s NYC community and we are excited to share the below Q&A with Ruth! Enjoy!
How and when did you first get involved with GiGi’s Playhouse NYC?
I got involved with GiGi’s NYC because of Frank, Joe and Peter. Frank and I worked together, and as a result I got to know Joe. After Joe and Peter’s mother died, and Peter moved to NYC, he visited us in New Hampshire every 4th of July.
What does GiGi’s NYC mean to you?
I had a seriously disabled brother, and my parents were very involved with United Cerebral Palsy, the organization that supported him. GiGi’s NYC seemed like a great way to support the disabled community, and was personal to me.
What do you do on the Board of Directors?
Over the eight years I have been involved with GiGi’s NYC, I have been a volunteer, Board member, Governance Chair, member of the Gala committee, and am currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors.
What is your favorite thing about the GiGi’s NYC community?
I know it sounds corny, but community. When you come to the Playhouse you see everyone greeting each other warmly, lots of smiles. It doesn’t matter if it is the individual with Down syndrome, sibling, friend, volunteer, staff, parent or grandparent, it is a warm, loving, kind, generous and supportive community.
What does Down syndrome awareness and acceptance look like to you?
When I was a child, I had an uncle who had Down syndrome. I never met him, because he did not live with my grandparents. Today I see individuals with Down syndrome everywhere.
What from our community are you most proud of?
My favorite thing in the community is the summer programming. I have been a volunteer in those programs, cooking classes both live at the Playhouse and this summer on GoToMeeting.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
I retired in January 2016 and after spending a year trying to find volunteer opportunities, for the past three years I had been a math teacher’s aide in a Cambridge Public School and a volunteer at Mt Auburn Hospital (unfortunately not during COVID). I will go back to both activities when it is allowed and safe. However, I have been able to continue to volunteer at the Cambridge Women’s Center which is continuing to operate its drop-in programming for women outside during COVID.
What do you look forward to doing at the Playhouse once we can safely gather there again? Unfortunately, we live in Cambridge, but I will try to visit the Playhouse whenever we do come to NYC, and we will definitely be at the 2021 Gala!
We are so inspired by Ruth’s beautiful words and commitment to the Down syndrome community, and to people of all abilities everywhere! Thank you, Ruth, for all that you have brought, and continue to bring, to GiGi’s NYC!