WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange High School (WOHS) freshmen recently participated in the school’s eighth annual intergenerational oral history project at Daughters of Israel (DOI) as part of their social studies curriculum and one of the DOI’s newest participants, Sandye Garrison, had many stories to tell.
Garrison partnered for four sessions with two WOHS freshmen, Rachel Rossman and Madison Cogdell.
WOHS social studies teacher Doug Drabik works with his freshman class each year to meet with residents at DOI and document their oral histories. Garrison has already participated with the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey and its oral history program.
“I hope to be able to share my own unique life experiences to help these girls make their own life decisions,” said Garrison, whose unique life story led her into a career as a casting director.
Garrison was enrolled in Mt. Sinai Nursing School when she was “discovered” while dancing the tango at the Brooklyn JCC.
During her 30-year career in show business, she raised her four children as a single mother in Manhattan and traveled to Hollywood on a monthly basis. She worked with distinguished directors and producers, such as Stanley Jaffe, who became president of Paramount Pictures and was the casting director and liaison between the movie “The Godfather” and the production company. Garrison has also worked with Frances Ford Coppola as well as William Friedkin, and discovered Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Ali McGraw.
One of her proudest accomplishments is her charitable work, she said. Garrison was recognized for her volunteer efforts with Women of Tomorrow, a mentor and scholarship program for at-risk young women.
Prior to her arrival at DOI, Garrison was an active force at the Jewish Community Housing Corp (JCHC) apartments, establishing a Tenant’s Association, movie nights and Bazaars. She now hosts Oscar Nights at DOI and is looking forward to a Playbill and Cabaret Night.
"We are lucky to have someone of Sandye Garrison’s energy and enthusiasm participating in our program this year,” said Mali Schwartz of the Jewish Historical Society of NJ. “We hope she continues sharing her stories and zest for life with many more students.”
The Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey sponsors the annual intergenerational oral history program with help from the Lillian Schenck Foundation.
Read more news from DOI on the nursing home's TAPinto.net column, Daughters of Israel Corner.