News & Politics

Karaoke For The Blind? Jewish Guild Cancels Music Event, Lies to Elderly About Why (Part 2)


Part 2 in a series. Part 1 can be read here.

Blind GuildCare client Rachel Gonzalez hoped things would blow over after their final concert, and that at the very least, music therapist Debbie Moran would be back for a St. Patrick’s Day sing-a-long. After all the, Guild had told her in December that even though they were axing thrice weekly music therapy sessions, “Debbie would be back six times a year” for one offs.

But it was not to be.

According to Gonzalez, the week before St. Patrick’s Day, she and others were trying to pick some music to sing when they’d have the rare chance to reunite with their music therapist.

“They don’t mention to anybody that Debbie is not coming,” Gonzalez says. Then, at the last minute, “they change the entertainment, and they tell everybody that Debbie cancelled.”

Gonzalez was horrified that the Guild management told people their therapist of 20 years had cancelled on them for two reasons. First, it hurt the elderly, blind people deeply to think she had abandoned them on the one occasion they could see her again.

Two, it was a bald-faced lied.

“I knew Debbie hadn’t cancelled,” Gonzalez says. “I had just talked to her.”

Indeed, Moran told us the same thing, writing (emphasis ours):

“I haven’t missed a Sat Patrick’s day in 20 years. I have green hair, green leprechaun shoes, green nails…the works. I love playing and singing Irish music. Joan Clark [the manager of the Guild’s Yonkers center] called me up and said, “It looks like you’re not coming in on Thursday” and this was BEFORE the article came out. She told me she was getting a lot of heat from main office. So I was VERY disappointed and even more so when Rachel told me they didn’t tell anyone (they wanted clients to show up as they needed census numbers) and then that day they told everyone that I cancelled. Rachel knows the truth because I told her on Tuesday they cancelled me, which is when I talked to her, and she waited to see how they would handle it. I would never cancel St Patrick’s Day!”

Why would the Guild cancel Moran for this holiday?

Spite is the most likely reason here. Though the Voice article on the Guild hadn’t come out yet, the Voice had sent detailed questions to the Guild by this date. Multiple sources confirmed for us that, though the organization was not responding to us, they were freaking out simply in being asked questions on easily accessible public records.

Moran was also supposed to come in for a spring concert (with no rehearsal, but just to conduct a concert for residents for an hour after the blind clients, some with multiple handicaps, are expected to rehearse on their own). However, this seems unlikely. Gonzalez (who is trying to help organize the song selection in advance) says the Guild will not tell her if or when the concert is happening or not.

And Moran writes that she:

“finally contacted Joan about the spring concert because I knew the clients were practicing…I asked her where we stand on that and she said nowhere and that she was waiting for things to “blow over”. That also made me sad. I know especially [several clients] would be so disappointed. So I try not to think too much because I get really sad.”

It seems unlikely that things will “blow over” anytime soon as the Voice is continuing its investigation into the Guild and its CEO Alan Morse.

And Moran herself has taken to advocating for Medicaid funding for the Guild through a petition, although she does so in the manner she’s conducted herself over the past few months: with no malice, nor any finger pointing at anyone at the Guild. She even CC’s Joan Clark on her fundraising email pitch.

In fact, Moran’s just trying to secure the Guild more money, even though they axed her while paying their CEO 300 times more than they’ve ever paid her, lied to her clients that she’d cancelled on them when they’d cancelled on her, and replaced her with a karaoke machine her blind clients can’t even see.

This can’t be something Morse feels good about: we hear that he has taken to avoiding eye contact with his employees and to furtively ducking in and out of the office since the Voice investigation began.

On Monday: How the Guild Cries Poverty While Paying For Karaoke No One Can Even See

@steven_thrasher |

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