Jeffrey Feldman, founding partner of the law firm Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey & Sappe LLP, and his wife, Rona Feldman, were recipients of the Quality of Life Award by Family Services at their 2018 Family of the Year Award reception, in acknowledgement of their achievements and contributions in the community.
The Feldmans’ support of community initiatives include Jeffrey Feldman’s work with the LaGrange Soccer Club, the Town of LaGrange Recreation Committee, Hospice Foundation Inc. of Dutchess and Ulster Counties, and Hospice, Inc., among many others. He created the Paul S. Kleidman Scholarship Fund to benefit high school students affected by the serious illness of a parent. In 2016, Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey & Sappe LLP celebrated its 30th anniversary with its “30 Acts of Kindness” year-long initiative, where the practice donated funds to 30 area non-profits.
During the award program’s celebratory event, Feldman credited the collaborative efforts of others as being key in the award recognition.
“We’re being honored, not for what we do, but for…all of the things that have been accomplished, not only by my family, but my work family, and by the community that we’re part of,” he said.
See a video of Feldman’s speech here:
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For 32 years and counting, Feldman, Kleidman, Coffey & Sappe LLP has been dedicated to advocating for the legal rights of its clients. Based in Fishkill NY, its attorneys have successfully tried cases at all levels of state and federal courts throughout the Hudson Valley and Capital District. The firm specializes in the practice of personal injury law, professional liability defense and criminal defense. For more information, visit www.fkcs.law or call 845-897-5199.
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. . . developments they have done in this community, we are honoring them with the Quality of Life Award. And now I would like to welcome Justin Feldman to the podium to introduce his mom and dad.
Thank you. For those of you who have ever heard my Brother, my sister, or I speak, this is going to be a little bit different. For starters, we’re going to have no really poorly done renditions of Top Ten lists from grade school; we were bad at them then, and we’re still bad at them, so we’re staying away. But I’m also up here by myself, and if you’re interested in
knowing why my siblings got bumped, it’s pretty simple.
My sister is pregnant, and she was afraid that she would use the entire time we have allotted of to cry, and the last time we were asked to do anything like this, my brother cursed. So you’re stuck with me.
A long time ago, my Dad was asked to speak at an anniversary party for my grandparents. And it was a small party, but for some reason what he said really stuck in my head. He said something along the lines of, “I never realized how lucky I was until I went to college; and then I realized exactly how lucky I was.”
And something about that, when he said it, just sort of stuck with me. And at first, it scared the heck out of me to never leave and go away. I was pretty sure I was going to just stay home and not go anywhere, and then it made me look around and just take notice how lucky I was, and how fortunate I was to have the family that I did. And then I remember going away to college and, over those first two weeks, meeting a lot of people from all walks of life. And then I realized that I actually understood what he meant, as I started to meet all these different people. My brother, my sister, and I were incredibly lucky to have parents who instilled in us love for family; drive to never give up on something that we wanted to achieve, no matter what obstacles might have stood in our way; and a philosophy to play as hard as we worked; and, most importantly, a desire to give back to and remain involved in the community that we lived in—which is what brings us all here tonight.
Most people grow up terrified of becoming their parents. In fact, some of you here have said this to me, and I’d point out, “But you’re here with your parents!”—get awkward.
I know I can speak for my brother and my sister when I say that we’ve always looked on with the hope that one day we could live up to the model that our parents have set for us. So Mom, Dad—we love you, and we’re very proud.
I grew up in a small town, South Fallsburg. I graduated from high school with 68 other people. One thing I learned about this is that when Brian Doyle asks you to have coffee, never say “no.” It seems like it was yesterday that Brian and I and Amy and Janet met for coffee. And I thought that he was going to ask me for other things; I just was overwhelmed and just could not believe that they were asking if Rona and our family, and I would be willing to be honored at this event. And when they said that we were going to be honored at the same time with Joe and Maria Lepore it was, like, how could you say “no” to being on the same platform with this family who’s done so much for the community, built an incredible business, and cleans my office and does an incredible job?
Brian mentioned that he wished his mom was here. And my mom is here. She’s 89 years old. She’s sitting right here. Unfortunately, my father couldn’t be here. He’s had a rough road over the last couple of months, and about eight days ago, ten days ago, he had surgery; and I didn’t really think he was going to make it out, but he made a miraculous recovery, and he’s home recuperating. And hopefully, he’ll get to see the video of this.
This is going to sound kind of odd until I explain it, but what I’d like to talk to you about are triangles. So, as my friend Coach Kieran knows, triangles are the predicate or the basis for a successful play in soccer. Triangles are also one of the strongest building blocks or construction figurations, and one of the strongest figures in geometry. I think that those of us who can afford to be here tonight and to participate in supporting family services are all part of a triangle. The triangle is composed of our family, of our work family, and of our community. As far as the family’s concerned—and if you’re retired I’m sure you have a bunch of golf buddies or golf gals, you know, something else that fills in for work. As far as family is concerned, we’ve had a rough last couple of months with the things that went on with my father, and Rona and my kids and their significant others and spouses have been the bedrock that got us through that. And we all know that that’s really an incredible part of what makes us tick.
While I was involved in all these nonprofit organizations and the kids were younger, Rona was chauffeuring them around and doing everything else. And I was never there to help, because I was always either preparing for trial, working, or, you know, out of ordinate. The second component, which is our work family—and the family that I get the most credit for, but it definitely belongs to others—is my firm. For this Thirty Acts of Kindness was not me doing this, but it was my firm doing this. Our involvement in the community is a firm thing; the other lawyers in my firm and the other people in my firm are the people who cover for me so that I can be at board meetings and doing other kinds of things. They’re the ones who cover for me in court, go to depositions, and do all kinds of other things. But they also buy into the whole aspect of contributing significant sums of money to support all of the causes that are so worthy, and the more we contribute from where we get called, and you know there’s we just learn about so many worthy organizations.
And then the third part of the triangle is our community. So whether it’s Little League, soccer league, you know, the town, your school—everybody has a different aspect of community that supports us. So lots of the things that I’ve been involved in, whether it was the soccer program or hospice, or, you know, helping to create the Spieler Fund, it was always with a group of people.
Michael Arnoff is here tonight; and a group of us—Michael and myself, Rich Wiesenthal, Jay Kanter, Mike Pesicoff— when our friend Howie Spieler died, we as a group, as a community, created this fund that provides money for gifts for underprivileged kids around Hanukkah and Christmas. And we did that for years, and we still continue to do that. That fund still has over a hundred thousand dollars. But that’s part of community. When the special needs soccer program was created as part of the town of LaGrange, it couldn’t have been done if it wasn’t for Mr. McCluskey, who was the supervisor in the town of LaGrange, and the rec director, Peter Huff. And that program has succeeded based upon the efforts of the succeeding Supervisors; Jon Wagner, Alan Bell, George Wade, and Peter Huff continued and now Sandy Washburn, who’s here tonight, she’s helped us to continue with those programs.
Sharon Beal’s here, she’s involved in creating the bowling program for kids with special needs. It’s incredible; in the town of LaGrange, there is a special needs soccer program for youth and adults, a special needs basketball program for youth and adults, a flag football program, an adult basketball program for special needs, and on and on. All in the town of LaGrange; that’s the community.
So I feel like we’re being honored not for what we do, but for what our triangle’s done, and for all of the things that have been accomplished not only by my family, but my work family and by the community that we’re part of. But the real reason we’re here tonight is to raise money for Family Services. So, you know, I didn’t really know that much about Family Services, I came here three years ago, when our friends, Jane and Bill Austin, were going to be honored; I knew Leah Feldman, who works with the victim services—no, she’s not my daughter, and she’s not related to me. And got sort of an overview like everybody’s gotten tonight about what Family Services does, the population of people that it supports, and the different things that it accomplishes. And when I left here, I thought, “Wow, they do incredible work.” And that’s what led to the phone call about the Thirty Acts of Kindness to meet with Brian. But after Brian asked whether we would be willing to be honored, I started to study about Family Services. I read the annual report; and then two weeks ago, Brian and Whitney—Whitney’s just phenomenal—took GD [inaudible], who works in my office; he has been with us for—let’s just say more than ten years—they took GD and I on a tour of the Family Partnership center. And walking through that building, 90 percent of it being in incredible physical shape, was just an eye-opening experience. So for those of you who, like me, were ignorant of all of the things that happened in that building, I’m going to tell you about it.
But I never am able to remember the list, so I have to read it. So starting from the third floor and so on—the third floor [is] housed, the executive offices, the Quality Assurance office for Family Services. There will be a family services steward, which I understand is to be a new position, to make sure that all of the different parts of Family Services work together cooperatively, such as Dutchess Community College and Hudson Valley Mental Health. On the second floor are the administrative offices for Dutchess Outreach; the African roots library; a home health care agency; the Institute for Family Health, which provides both pre- and postnatal care; and Dutchess County Healthy Family. On the first floor are the offices for Real Skills, such as County Department of Behavioral Health; Hudson Valley Mental Health; an auditorium that seats about a thousand people, which requires a lot of physical rehab and work—and Brian’s got a plan; Hudson River Health Clinic in the annex, where Leah works; the Family Service Center for Victim Safety and Support—last year they helped over three thousand victims of domestic abuse, child abuse, or sexual assault. Then there was a forensic building, at which they provide counseling support to assist those who have committed abuse from recidivism.
In the basement are the offices for nobody who leaves Mid-Hudson; TRAC, which stands for Teen Resource Activity Center; the Human Resources office for Family Services; the actual facility where the lunchbox program operates; a daytime homeless shelter; and the gymnasium, which also requires an incredible amount of physical rehab and reconstruction—and again, without surprise, Brian has a plan.
Some of those entities or agencies or service providers are part of Family Services and some of them are partnered tenants. The bottom line, for me and for my family and for all of you, is that the people who go into those buildings, the people who require these services, they’re missing a part of the triangle. And whether it’s their family, their work family, they have the community—because they have the support of Family Services.
We are the link to provide them with the missing aspect of that triangle. So many of you who may not have realized all that Family Services did, I hope that that sort of opens your mind to a little bit of what they do. And although the live auction is over, and the silent auction is over, and this was unprompted by either Brian or Vicky or the committee, those envelopes are still in your family. So dig deep; and if you haven’t made a contribution, make one now. Because they can use all the help and all the money we can give them, because they provide an absolutely incredible service to a huge number of people, and for the people that serve on this board and do this work, and through the employees of this organization. Those of us who can afford it, we’re obligated to provide them with that last aspect of the triangle. I very much appreciate being honored. I don’t think we deserve it; I think that my triangle deserves it. And truly, this is a night that we’ll never forget.
Jeff knows how to dig deep. And as one representation of that, Jeff mentioned the soccer program and other programs for people with special needs in LaGrange. And this evening, we would like to present him with the special gift Whitney has that—a basket full of soccer balls, water bottles, and other paraphernalia for the kids to enjoy. Special Needs Soccer thanks Jeff and the other parts of the triangle.
So with that I want to thank everyone who made this night possible, all of you who have been so generous I hope you’ve had a good night.