News & Politics

Jewish Guild For The Blind Hires Back Music Therapist For Seniors After Voice Investigation


We’ve got some good news to report this Friday: the Jewish Guild for the Blind has hired back its music therapist, Debbie Moran, after a cover story and an on-going series in the Voice highlighted problems at the nonprofit organization.

In March the Voice reported how Moran, who had worked with elderly, blind seniors as the Guild’s music therapist and choirmaster for 20 years, had been laid off, even though the part-time employee earned only about $5,000 a year. The reason cited for Moran’s axing was “Medicaid budget cuts,” even though a review of the nonprofit’s tax filings by the Voice seemed to show no such apparent cuts (a fact recently confirmed by government sources), and despite the fact that the group’s CEO, Dr. Alan Morse, had received an 82% compensation increase just two years ago, bringing his pay up to over $1.5 million annually.

(During 2010, the last year for which the group’s tax filings are available, Morse’s salary came back “down” to $880,941, which still keeps him in the top one percent of earners; that sum was arrived at shortly after an embarrassing article by Benjamin Lesser of the Daily News first brought Morse’s income under public scrutiny.)

Moran tells us that she was called to come back to a rehearsal on May 2nd, and she “can’t wait to see my seniors.” Over the phone, her giddiness and relief are apparent, and you can almost hear the smile in her voice.

She says that she’s not yet back onto the three days per week schedule she’d once been on. First, she was asked to come in one time before an upcoming performance, and now the chance of her doing multiple rehearsals before a spring concert is being considered by the Guild.

But still, it’s a far cry above where she has been with the organization. Moran publicly and passionately made a case to increase the Guild’s Medicaid funds to save her choir in recent week’s. Meanwhile, the Guild cancelled her last scheduled appearance and, according to Guild client Rachel Gonzalez, management told the seniors Moran had cancelled on them. The future of a spring concert looked bleak, seemingly for reasons of spite over economics. The Guild also, improbably, filled at least one of Moran’s music therapy slots with a karaoke session the blind clients couldn’t even see.

And now the Guild has reversed its course and is welcoming their music therapist back. Moran was confused but happy that the Guild called her “to come back in, as if nothing had happened.” As she’s seemed to through out the whole process, she seemed to harbor no malice, and was ecstatic about being reunited with a community she has sung with for decades. She seems confidant that “good things will come of this.”

“It’s just the beginning,” she continues, relieved to continue to use “the power of music” in order to “draw people out in a way nothing else can.”


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