Meet Reed Nerlino, a volunteer who has gone above and beyond year round for GiGi’s Playhouse NYC. Reed first heard of GiGi’s Playhouse NYC through a family friend and has had a close connection to their son with Down syndrome for many years. “Walking in for the first time I pegged (GiGi’s Playhouse NYC) as a happy place” says Reed. “GiGi’s does a great job at providing opportunities for participants to have some pretty special experiences, whether it is to go to a Broadway show (during GiGi’s Summer Adventures), or participating in a karaoke party on site. It’s important that people with Down Syndrome have an advocate and are included in everything!”
Reed was a volunteer for 4 weeks straight during the summer at GiGi’s Playhouse Summer Adventures and Summer Clubhouse programs. Reed made some pretty incredible friendships with our participants and is always jumping in whenever he can to assist with the programs. “Volunteering for the summer was amazing, and I can’t wait to do it again. First of all, the positive energy at GiGi’s makes being there so much fun, and I made so many friends with both the staff and the participants.” Reed also took the initiative to organize last years Family Fun Day at Regis High School to provide a great day for our community to come together last July.
We asked Reed what his favorite aspect of GiGi’s Playhouse NYC, “For me, I just love seeing the people. When I get to hang out with Malik, Troy, Peter, Will, and everyone else, it just makes me so happy. Every time I meet someone who is special, I grow personally because they have something that influences me. At GiGi’s I have met the most amazing people who embrace everything about themselves. Their talents and gifts really stand out because they are so authentic. I hope that rubs off on me. Volunteering didn’t change my perception of individuals with Down syndrome as much as it broadened it. The more people you know, the more you learn, because everyone is unique. It makes you want to advocate even more when the amount of people that you care about grows.”
Thank you Reed for your amazing words and insight into what its like to be a volunteer in our community. We hope you will continue to grow and learn as we are continue to offer virtual programming at this time.
If you, or someone you know, would be interested in volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse NYC virtually, or in person (when our doors are open) we would love to have you reach out today! Together we can learn, grow and advocate together to make a difference.