COMMUNITY INVOVLEMENT: Gloria Beck is an active member of the Sid Jacobs Jewish Community Center (JCC), and her involvement with JCC has helped her branch out into different community service programs. Most recently Beck personally funded a turkey raffle for Thanksgiving, whereby 10 to12 families would receive food for the holiday. There were stories that brought tears to her eyes, she said. “It’s empowering to see firsthand how you can help someone.”
She also initiated graduation day awards for two students who showed the most improvement. “It wasn’t given to scholars who win most things, but to children who persevered. This I did in my mother’s memory – the queen of perseverance. I was blessed with a comfortable life and felt I was giving back in some small way.”
PERSONAL: Beck was born in Newark, New Jersey and said that “the Staten Island Ferry, the shoeshine man, Lower East side delis, hot sweet potatoes, chestnuts and the Yiddish theater” are reminders of her childhood and the time she spent with her mother on Sundays. Graduating from Curtis High School, she attended NYU and received her B.S. in Education. Beginning their married life in Forest Hills, she and her husband Howard moved to Port Washington before coming full circle back to Queens again. They now reside in the North Shore Towers community in Floral Park.
JOB: A retired teacher, Beck spent most of her career working at a public school in Queens where she helped children learn and cope with whatever life dealt them.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: While teaching, she was seriously injured and had to give up her profession. After years of rehabilitation, she worked as a volunteer to help others with similar problems. It reinforced life skills and helped her gain her confidence back.
“I am grateful for what I have experienced in recovery. It has given me a different view of life and that is what propels me now. I am a survivor,” Beck explained. “Life is precious and it can change in the blink of an eye. That is why I keep myself so busy – to forget the negative and only focus on the positive.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: “The most thrilling moment occurred while my granddaughter was having her first sleepover. I brought her down to the VIP Room [in the North Shore Towers Country Club] where there was a lovely singer entertaining us with Broadway tunes. The performer was singing ‘One’ from ‘Chorus Line’ and she wanted someone to ‘high kick.’ Lexie, my 11-year-old, volunteered to high kick and also aced the song, plus two others, while the audience applauded vigorously.”
INSPIRATION: Beck said her inspiration comes from within her family, including her mother. She explained her mother joined Hadassah for fundraising activities and served food in a soup kitchen for the indigent elderly. “That became her passion and helped fill in a lot of empty hours with helpful things. She is my role model!” – Natasha Velez