Thursday, October 14, 2010

Enid gives a gift on her birthday

Enid Shapiro was trained as a social worker, worked for years in that profession at the Beth Israel and BIDMC, and tonight she celebrated her 85th birthday by announcing a generous gift to our hospital. You see her here with daughters Amy and Laura and son Robert, but at the party she was surrounded by dozens of others, an extended "family" of people whose lives she has influenced.

Jane Matlaw, our head of community relations, reminisced and explained about the gift:

Thank you all for coming to this amazing birthday party honoring someone who is known and loved by so many . . . here in Boston, in many cities across the US, all over Israel and in many other parts of the world as well.

I met Enid Shapiro in 1977 when we were both on the board of what was then Area II Home Care in Roxbury. We became instant friends in addition to being social work colleagues. Enid was a force -- so smart, so outspoken and such an advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves. In the 33 years since I met her none of that has changed, and she certainly has not slowed down. I, like many others have learned so much from Enid.

While we were on the board of Area II Enid was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her attitude and strength and her faith in her medical providers at BIH (some of whom are here today) were extraordinary. Enid dealt with the news, went through the treatments and barely missed a beat. She took my breath away. In fact, she is the only woman whom I have met who liked her wigs so much that she decided to keep wearing them into and beyond her second breast cancer diagnosis in 1995 and still looks stunning in them to this day!

Enid has worked on many important social justice issues, and served on many boards and committees. From genetic privacy to the needs of elders; from Muslim/Jewish relations in Boston to Arab/Jewish relations in Israel; from helping organizations that she is passionate about including Keshet, NASW, Hadassah, JCRC, Kit Clark Senior Services, The Abraham Fund, Temple Sinai, The Brookline Literacy Project, Hebrew College, the Boston Opera Company and many, many more.

And, in her 85 years, she has more institutional memory and knows more of the history of many, many issues and who was involved in them than just about anyone I know. She even outlasted a few governors on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging.

But the bottom line is always about the people -- bringing people together to help understand different points of view, to help shape policy, to support a worthy cause or to take action together for the greater good.

And dayenu, all of this would and could have been enough in one heck of a productive life. But a few months ago Enid began thinking about doing even more, and in a big way. She told me that in appreciation of all of the extraordinary care she has received at BIDMC over the years, she wanted to make a gift, but she did not know exactly where it should go. It did not take long to figure out how to marry three loves of her life together: BIDMC, social work and Israel. So starting with a generous donation from Enid and the money that you have all contributed in honor of her 85th birthday, we are able to launch The Enid Shapiro Endowed Fund for Social Work Exchange. This fund will create a social work exchange program between social workers at BIDMC and Rambam hospital in Haifa, our sister city in Israel. We are truly indebted to Enid for this generous and meaningful gift which will, in the spirit of Enid, promote the understanding of many cultures in Boston and in Haifa.

On behalf of BIDMC, I thank you for this generous gift that will continue to open the eyes and improve on the skills of social workers across the globe to bring the best of care to all of the patients they will touch.

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