Marc S. Freedman, a certified financial planner, is the president of Freedman Financial and an active member of the North Shore Jewish Community.
He is the volunteer general manager of the B’nai B’rith booth at the Topsfield Fair, a former president of the Peabody Chamber of Commerce, and the third vice president at Temple Emanuel in Andover. He was previously a 40 year member of Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. He and his wife Laura have five children ages 20 to 13.
The thing I’m proudest of is our family’s collective contribution to running the B’nai B’rith booth at the Topsfield Fair. I’ve been working this since I was 13 years old. The B’nai B’rith men’s organization of Peabody would run this booth at the fair, and they needed people, so they came to the men’s youth organization, the AZA, and they asked for volunteers. So we would help out.
When I headed off to college I lost touch with the fair. But after I got married, I started volunteering again, and after a few years Ken Coburn, who had been running the booth for a number of years, asked if I’d be interested in running this thing. Little did he know, I always wanted to run a little breakfast and lunch place.
What prompted that dream?
Before I got into the business that I’m in, I was always in the food service industry. My first job out of college I was the general manager of The Ship restaurant. My first restaurant job was being a busboy for a place called the Home Cookery, which was located over where the Hannaford Plaza is in Peabody (formerly King’s Plaza). I worked for Holton Brandy Catering, which many people know, and I worked for Bruce Silverlieb for a number of years, The Party Specialist, I was a camper at Camp Avoda and Bruce was the head chef and when I got too old to be a camper I worked as one of his kitchen boys and then as a chef there.
What happened to your restaurant dream?
The hours and stresses of the food service business just aren’t compatible with family life. I have five children. But the opportunity to run the booth was there and I thought, “what a cool opportunity to be able to run a booth. Do anything I want, know the place is going to be busy, and at the end of 11 days I can lock the doors and not come back for another year. Little did I realize the months of work that are necessary to prepare for it.
Do your children contribute to the booth?
My youngest, Corey, he’s 13 and in eighth grade in North Andover, he wants to take over the booth. And he’s been working there since he was nine years old, and you can ask any volunteer, Corey runs the front windows. He’s very good at math and he’s very patient with everybody. We have four windows at the front of the booth, and they’re usually manned by seniors who do a great job taking orders and interacting with people who are buying food. Corey makes sure they add the orders correctly and make the correct change. We don’t have cash registers, so this is an important job.
What do you think you bring to the management of the booth that makes it a good experience for volunteers?
It’s professional but it’s also fun. Ask any of the volunteers and they’ll tell you they can’t wait to come back every year. Everyone is so nice, and whether it’s slow or busy, we have a good time.
Any odd details you can share.
Yes. We serve cheeseburgers at the B’nai B’rith booth at the Topsfield Fair.
So who are you raising the money for?
It used to go to the national organization. That’s when we started this idea “L’Chaim for the Jewish Community.” It was designed so that every volunteer who came would have a vested interest in being able to earmark money to a local Jewish organization of their choice in exchange for their time and effort. Everyone is assigned a four hour shift, and every four hour shift you work you get $18 allocated to give to the charity of your choice. What we were essentially saying is that any organization that supports the Jewish community matters, one isn’t better than the other. This idea was absolutely embraced, and the number of volunteers stepping forward to work grew dramatically. And, by the way, the biggest check that first year went out to the Jewish Journal. We sent out about $4,800 this year to the recipients selected by our volunteers.
Is there any other incentive to volunteer?
We pay for the admission of our volunteers, which costs between nine and fifteen dollars, and we pay for your parking too. Also, during your shift and for about an hour before and after you can eat all the food you want.
Do you do other volunteer work?
I was a member of Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody for 44 years, but when we moved out to North Andover I joined Temple Emanuel, where I am the third vice president, I’m keyboard player for the in-house band.
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