Joe Bellitti, Gray Panthers Intern 2017

When I set out to look for internships in the summer of 2017, I knew I wanted a change from my previous internships. I set out searching for an internship that would set my heart on fire, something that where I could make a difference. I found that at Gray Panthers.

I greatly appreciated the opportunity Jack Kupferman gave me to work with Gray Panthers over the summer. I learned a tremendous amount, and developed skills I know I will use forever. More than that, I found myself advocating for a cause I cared about deeply. Ageism is an insidious form of discrimination that is unfortunately not very well addressed in our society. I am extremely happy and proud to have spent the summer for such a worthy cause. However, I would like to clarify that despite the end of my summer internship, my desire to fight against ageism endures. My experience with Gray Panthers, learning about how ageism damages humanity, has made an arduous advocate.

Over the course of the internship I worked tirelessly on policy briefs, notes, analyses, the High Level Political Forum, the Open Ended Working Group on Ageing, press briefs, and more on both national and international levels. This is not a typical internship in which one might see an intern buying coffee: this is hands-on experience where you will feel the impact you have. Mr. Kupferman was consistently able to show places where my work was used to help, and that was an exceptional feeling to have. As a Gray Panthers intern not only do you feel like you’re advocating for an important cause, but you also feel that it is your work specifically making a difference and an impact on the issues we currently face regarding ageism. It is a rare and valuable experience that I think goes overlooked in many internships. It separates the Gray Panthers network from others.

I have mentioned some amazing components of this internship. For example, a Gray Panthers internship gives an inspiring cause, a great purpose, and a great deal to learn. However, while all of these things are fantastic, there is something this internship gave me that is perhaps better: Inspirational people. While working at Gray Panthers this summer I was surrounded by truly sensational people dedicated to fighting ageism, true celebrities in the world of ageism advocacy. These people were marvelous, and they made the experience that much more wonderful. The opportunity to meet these individuals, and to be lucky enough to work with some of them, was truly an enlightening and dignifying experience. Super stars such as Sylvia Beales, Frances Zainoeddin, Ida Keeling, Helen Hamlin, Erica Dhar, and many others were unbelievably intelligent and inspirational. I considered it an honor and privilege for the opportunity to speak with some of them and even work with others. Last of all, but certainly not least is Jack Kupferman, my boss at Gray Panthers. Jack Kupferman, is amazing human being: passionate, hard-working, compassionate, and tenacious. Working for him was an experience that I will remember forever. Not many bosses will take their interns to the MET to learn more about culture and the world. However, more than that, he also managed to help me learn what it means to be a socially conscious and hard-working individual. Working for him I learned to be more analytical, cognizant, and determined. A man of many talents, he made my experience as a Gray Panthers intern remarkable. Individuals like Jack Kupferman, Sylvia Beales, and others I met through this internship bring out the best in the people they work for. They also are caring people who touch the people they meet in a special way. They are the type of people you hope to meet and surround yourself with, and are a main reason I recommend an internship at Gray Panthers. You will meet them and many others like them.

All in all, my summer with Gray Panthers was unbelievable. I worked hard, learned about ageism nationally and internationally, and felt like I truly made a difference. It is an experience I would not trade for the world, and one I would recommend for anyone who is socially conscious, loves a challenge, and wants to see a more humane society.

Joe Bellitti

Gray Panthers Intern 2017

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