Regarding the recent article “Senior rides split from federation” (Jewish News, May 6), I’d like to offer some clarification about the events that led to the split. First, we didn’t “pull out” of the agreement; we terminated it, even though it had only been two months.
My husband, Alan, and I established the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund, administered through Smile On Seniors (SOS), before we were aware of the possibility of any federation allocation for senior rides.
We did so because, despite assurances from the federation for years that it would provide senior rides, it took no action and we wanted to fill that void. We did not need the federation and had no expectation of their participation in our program, which we named to honor my parents (of blessed memory), Leonard and Phyllis Friedel. The federation came to us, and we decided that if a collaboration could help more seniors get rides, we were willing to consider its participation.
When the federation came to us initially and asked if they could partner with us in our program, we had several concerns. After meeting with their leadership for several hours, we came to an agreement on how the fund would proceed. Alan’s and my main objective was to keep the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund administered through SOS as is for at least the balance of 2016. We wanted the fund to gain traction, we wanted the community to become familiar with it, and we wanted SOS to continue to administer it because of its stellar reputation for providing Jewish senior programming in the Valley.
We were told (and we agreed) that the program would remain ours for this year and become a federation program in 2017. We were also told that nothing would change for the remainder of this year and that we would remain in charge. The only difference was that the federation would contribute up to $58,000 this year to help pay a portion of our invoices for rides that were being offered through our Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund.
My concerns and fears were allayed when we were told that everything we discussed would be in writing; after repeated requests, that writing never came (Strike One). After we read about our fund in another local Jewish publication (with some inaccuracies) and saw that the name had been changed, and knowing that we didn’t submit that information, nor were we consulted on the content or the wording, obviously the federation unilaterally decided that we were no longer in charge (Strike Two).
That same publication has a “Federation Notes” section, where an announcement was made to celebrate the launch of the Federation Senior Rides program. Its program was not to launch until 2017. The program to which the article was referring was the program that my husband and I set up. We had also heard the program referenced elsewhere in the community as a federation program, which again, was not to occur until 2017. Simply stated, it appears that the federation tried to immediately give the impression that our program was already its program by disseminating false information, without our knowledge or consent, and contrary to our agreement.
Third, imagine my surprise when a woman on the Women’s Philanthropy Board mentioned to me that she wanted to donate to our fund. When I told her to make the check out to Smile On Seniors, she had a perplexed look on her face. She told me that a representative from the federation came to a meeting to speak about allocations and told the ladies that our program (which is currently the only existing senior rides program) could be supported by making a check to the federation. Again, this announcement came about eight months too soon (Strike Three).
We didn’t call the federation to work things out because the damage had already been done without our knowledge and promises had been breached. When these events took place and we still hadn’t received anything in writing, we had no choice but to terminate the agreement.
Fortunately, even throughout this debacle, seniors have continued to receive rides through the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund and will continue to do so. Quite frankly, none of this makes any sense to us. All the federation needed to do was to honor the deal we made and to be patient. The bottom line is, after all, providing rides for seniors, isn’t it?
Randi Jablin, a Scottsdale resident, co-founded the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund with her husband, Alan.