Up-tempo effort by charity workers caps BSO gala plans

September 09, 1993|By Robyn L. Davis | Robyn L. Davis,Staff Writer

This year's Baltimore Symphony Orchestra gala will add to the coffers of two charities: the orchestra's and that of Francis X. Gallagher Services.

Gallagher Services, a division of Catholic Charities that trains and employs the disabled, was commissioned by the gala committee to make 720 hats for the 11th anniversary gala, the theme of which is "Hats off to the BSO." Gallagher Services will be paid $2,200 for the job.

Gallagher workers such as Stewart Sheffey have been spending their days applying handfuls of glitter to white cloches or gluing black ribbons around green-brimmed hats. It's been a switch from their usual jobs: boxing adhesive bandages or assembling plastic bubbles for vending machines.

Mr. Sheffey pauses during his work to chat for a moment with Josanna Abromaitis, director of Gallagher Services' day programs.

"You're never too old to learn something new, are you?" Ms. Abromaitis says.

"No indeed," he replies, smiling as he applies a touch more glitter to the hat he's working on. "I got to keep on pushing on."

Mr. Sheffey and the other Gallagher workers had pushed hard enough to meet their deadline, and the gala -- a sellout -- is to take place Saturday at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

"It was a wonderful experience for all of us," says Carol McGowan, an Annapolis attorney who is co-chairwoman of the gala. Ms. McGowan was responsible for Gallagher's effort on behalf of the gala. She had looked into buying hats from a commercial concern, but discovered they would cost $30 each. Familiar with Gallagher Services through a client contact, she asked Ms. Abromaitis if making the hats was something the nonprofit organization could manage.

"They were as excited about the project as we were," Ms. McGowan says.

"We wanted to involve as many people as possible," Ms. Abromaitis says. "It's really been a nice collaborative effort for the staff, many of whom have not been involved in any sort of creative effort. They've gone home and told their counselors they're making hats for the band."

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