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Volunteer spotlight: Gail Erlitz - Columbia County Ballet

Posted: August 9, 2017 - 1:21am
Gail Erlitz
Gail Erlitz

While it might not be scientifically proven, Gail Erlitz is sure she inherited volunteer genes from her parents.

Her parents, John and Shirley Erlitz, gave of their time while they worked and for many years after they both retired.

Her mother, who died last month just a few days after 94th birthday, had volunteered until about two years ago, helping with meals at the Catherine Sheridan Senior Center in Jackson Heights, N.Y., and her father was a longtime volunteer with the New York Transit Museum, even being named volunteer of the year in the 1990s.

"When I was a kid, Mom volunteered with Girl Scouts and my dad with Boy Scouts," she said.

Erlitz started volunteering when her sons, Ethan and Jonathan St. Martin, were young. She was a den mom for Cub Scouts and a dance mom for Columbia County Ballet, where her son, Jonathan, danced for many years, beginning in 1999.

"I love ballet," said Erltiz, who still remembers the excitement she felt when taking that first lesson in Jackson Heights, N.Y. as a 6 year-old.

She started the Columbia County Ballet's website in the early 2000s and kept it up for several years.

She wasn't always backstage with Columbia County Ballet either.

Erlitz has even taken to the stage several times over the past almost two decades, portraying Mrs. Beaver in the Roar of Love as well as being a party mom in the Nutcracker. She even played Mrs. Beaver opposite to her son as Mr. Beaver. Although St. Martin no longer takes dance lessons, he still returns on occasion to dance as an alumni.

Erlitz has retired twice in her life. She served in the Army until retiring in 1998 and then took her nursing skills into the civilian arena, retiring from University Hospital in 2013.

Also a member of the Columbia County Arts Council's board, Erlitz oversees the sidewalk chalk art at the annual Art in the Park event, which was rained out this spring, but has been rescheduled for Oct. 14.

Not only is she involved with the arts community, Erlitz stays busy with the Congregation Children of Israel in Augusta, where she started volunteering in the gift shop in the mid-1990s.

She's been a member of the temple's board of trustees since 2011 and is currently serving as its first vice president. She will likely move to board president next year.

Erlitz said she likes to fill needs she sees no one else willing to fill, and she said the biggest thing for her is the people she meets.

"I enjoy being with people," she said.

 

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