Coastal Stars: Boca philanthropists provide ‘beginnings’ for new moms in need

Neil and Doris Gillman are sponsoring a program that provides cribs, bedding and other supplies

for newborns of mothers in need at Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

Photo provided

By Janis Fontaine

    Neil Gillman said it took his wife, Doris, about 20 seconds to decide to throw her support behind Sweet Dream Makers, a 501(c)(3) charity based in Boca Raton that provides beds and bedding to local people who are sleeping on the floor.
    Sweet Dream Makers’ newest program is called “Beginnings” because it starts at the very beginning of life. It helps moms who give birth at Boca Raton Regional Hospital and who are struggling financially. Moms receive new cribs and crib linens, as well as diapers and formula.
    Doris Gillman, 64, says she and her husband, 65, got involved because of  “what we were providing and for whom.”
    “I was immediately surprised by the basic needs that weren’t being met and inspired by the simplicity of the program,” Doris Gillman said. “Sweet Dream Makers also provides beds for the family members if we find they need them. We also collect gently used furniture, but all the mattresses and bedding are new.”  
    Neil Gillman, who serves on the board of the Boca West Foundation, met Suzanne “Suzy” Broad, Sweet Dream Makers executive director, when she gave a five-minute, informal talk to the board. That talk led to a meeting with the Gillmans, which ended with a pledge for the entire amount needed to fund the first year of the Beginnings program. The Boca West Foundation committed $20,000 and is adding $10,000 to renovate Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s maternity wing.
    But more than money, Broad found an ally in Doris Gillman.
    “She understood the philosophy of Sweet Dream Makers,” Broad said. “We immediately had a rapport, an instant connection. She’s smart, and she has a smile that lights up the room.”
    The Gillmans, philanthropists who married eight years ago, recently sold their home in Gulf Stream and bought a home in the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club, which Doris Gillman says is perfect for them.
    “Gulf Stream was very peaceful and private, but we wanted a community with lots of people and activities. What makes it special to us is we can walk to everything. We like to ride our bikes and walk the dogs,” Neil Gillman said. He is an avid golfer. His wife likes to work out, and they both play a little tennis. The couple has four children and two grandchildren who visit frequently.
    “We’re down-to-earth and family focused,” Neil Gillman said. Doris Gillman added: “And we love to give back to the community.”

 For more information about Sweet Dream Makers, call 571-7363 or visit
    For more information about Boca West Foundation, visit www.bocawestfoundation. org or call 488-6980.

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