President’s Message – November 2021

Oct 31, 2021 | Co-President's Messages

President’s Message from Sandra R. Wolkoff, PhD., LCSW-R

I am nearing the end of my three years as board president of the COPE Foundation. While my nearly 50 years in social work practice and in leadership positions in nonprofit organizations gave me a lot of experience, this new position at COPE was quite unique. I was the first person to hold this position after our founder, Lilly Julien, decided to step down after 20 years. It was an honor to be asked to take on this position, but I was challenged with very big shoes to fill.

And of course, the pandemic came in and took us all hostage, requiring innovation in thinking and a constant series of mid-course corrections. We needed to adapt to what our families needed and wanted and what safety protocols the pandemic was demanding, even while in the throes of our own fears.

We weren’t alone.  Around us every institution and organization was struggling—how to provide services that were so intimate while assuring everyone’s safety, and how to fundraise so we could survive all the ways that this virus upended our lives. As we near the end of our second year of this new way of living and working, we continue to grow and learn.

Our board of directors continued to meet, adapting to all things Zoom, and supporting COPE in every way possible. We have a strong and generous board: Judy and Richard Berg (co-founders), Bill Cooperman, Ron Jasser, Lilly Julien, Larry Mergentime (our vice-president), Doug Newton, Barbara O’Malley, Sherry Radowitz (our treasurer), Jen Schwartz, and Bill Slovin. Some of our members have been on the board for 20 years, others not even 20 months, but everyone continued to bring their compassion and commitment to every meeting, and all the days in-between. It has been an honor to work with you.

Our staff were amazing. Adam Rabinovitch, our executive director, moved quickly and creatively to find solutions to every challenge thrown our way. Our social work facilitators had to rapidly become experts in technologies most of us had never seen before, finding ways to bring the warmth and  connection that are the heart of our face-to-face meetings into a two dimensional world that relied on chat boxes and emojis. Our financial officer, Marianne Bujacich, and staff, Patty Cocchiarelli,  helped us secure the Federal loans we needed and followed up diligently with local organizations to make sure we stayed in compliance on all the requirements. Our COPE Camp Erin staff, Ann Fuchs and Jamie Greene, had to take a pause for one summer but did everything they could to keep the COPE Camp Erin experience alive. And we were also fortunate to have talented and dedicated volunteers to help us along the way.

This column is my thank you letter to our families, our staff, our leadership, and our supporters. It is an acknowledgement to those whose presence in our hearts keeps us going even during our darkest moments. Lastly, this is a thank you to everyone who has read my columns. I hope they were good enough for you. The next column will be about the future, but for this one, I say once again, thank you.