Helaine Cohen and Bob Leland are helping make the world a better place. Thanks to their nominations, two not-for-profits received grants of $10,000 from the Baker Tilly Foundation.
Submitted by Baker Tilly
Investing in the next generation
Helaine Cohen, a partner in our Los Angeles Tax team, grew up in a family that valued helping others. What drew her to New Directions for Youth (NDY) was their focus on helping children in Los Angeles County.
“I wanted to volunteer with a program where I could see the fruits of their labor in my community,” Helaine said.
NDY provides comprehensive social services to at-risk youth and has helped more than 200,000 children. Their services are provided free of charge, making them a critical resource for low-income families.
Most children in the program are in either elementary or middle school. In addition to after-school programming, NDY offers a 10-week summer camp experience which includes recreation, arts and crafts, and skill development training.
Helaine volunteers as NDY’s vice president of finance and helps at events throughout the year. During the holidays, she donates food, clothing and gifts to families in the program.
“I love that this organization does so much to make people’s roads a little easier, it’s such a feel-good environment,” Helaine said. “All it takes is one person to make a huge difference in a child’s life and the Baker Tilly Foundation’s donation will make a tremendous difference as well.”
A miraculous recovery from Lyme disease
In 2005, Rachel Leland, daughter of Consultant Bob Leland, became seriously ill. At the age of 13, Rachel lost her mobility and experienced severe pain, and her doctors struggled to identify her condition. Bob and his wife, Dorothy, feared Rachel’s condition would never improve.
Desperate for help, they reached out to LymeDisease.org, then called the California Lyme Disease Association, who steered them to doctors who knew how to diagnose and treat their daughter. The organization also connected them with support groups to meet with other families who were battling the disease.
“Lyme disease is a debilitating bacterial infection, and we were thankful that we were able to find help for our daughter,” Bob said. “Though it took years, Rachel has since regained her mobility and now lives a healthy life as a speech therapist, which is a future none of us could imagine 15 years ago.”
LymeDisease.org also operates a program called MyLymeData, with more than 17,000 participants. Partnering with scientists at the University of Washington and the University of California, Los Angeles, the project documents the experiences of Lyme disease patients to help drive research.
Throughout the years, Dorothy continued to volunteer with the organization and has written articles, organized conferences and met with lawmakers. She was recently named LymeDisease.org’s president. Dorothy and Rachel co-authored the book Finding Resilience, a Teen’s Journey Through Lyme Disease, based on Rachel’s journal that she kept throughout her diagnosis and recovery.
“Rachel’s journey to where she is now was a long struggle, and while the disease is in remission, it could return at any time,” Bob said. “The funds given by the Baker Tilly Foundation will make a difference for everyone this organization touches and help find more answers for those afflicted.”
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