The Chairman and CEO of Care One, LLC, Daniel Straus—and his daughter Elizabeth—raised more than $1 million to give to over 100 of his employees who were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. Many staff members were left homeless or suffered tremendous damage to their property from the severe flooding and wind. The funds were distributed through an application process and thorough assessment of damages incurred by the employees and their immediate family members. Forty employees received funds at an awards ceremony on April 24 at Care One's Atlantic Highlands facility, located in the area hardest hit by the storm.
The fund raising campaign was a company-wide effort as well as a community and family undertaking. Everyone in the company solicited funds or contributed themselves at different levels from $1 to $100,000. "Everybody wanted to be part of it. Our employees were very sympathetic to their co-workers who had losses. They wanted to do something demonstrable to help," Straus said.
Fund raising efforts were spearheaded by Elizabeth (Lizzy), the chairman's daughter, who is executive vice president of the company and has worked alongside her father for five years. She created a store filled with items like baby clothes and toys to give to families who had suffered severe damage from the storm. "I met a 2 ½ year-old little girl, the same age as my son, and that really hit home," Lizzy said. She was able to replace the girl's favorite toy—Elmo Rocks—that had been lost in the storm's destruction. "I work to provide for my son, so I could imagine how her mother felt; they lost everything," Lizzy added.
Wanting to help on a larger scale, she asked her father what they could do and the result was a casino night fundraiser. All the money raised was turned over to three board members: Lizzie and family friends retired Justice Gary Stein and Raphael Benaroya, who were responsible for decisions about fund distribution.
Before becoming CEO of Care One, Straus was the president and Co-CEO of The Multicare Companies, Inc, which was sold in 1997. Prior to that, he was an attorney with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in New York City. In 2009, he endowed the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice at NYU to support multi-disciplinary Fellows at NYU's Law School.
Straus, now in his mid-50s was born in Brooklyn and has lived in Englewood with his wife Joyce for 25 years, raising three children there. He says giving charity is part of his being. "It's a core Jewish value of chessed," he said, "I don't know any other way." He is a former chairman of the Moriah School of Englewood and is one of the founders of the East Hill Synagogue. His daughter is following in his philanthropic as well as his business footsteps. "I have always been involved with giving, it's how I was raised," Lizzy said.
Care One is New Jersey's largest family owned provider of senior care services with 30 centers in 11 New Jersey counties. Founded by Straus in 1999, Care One began with four nursing and rehabilitation centers in Bergen County. Services have expanded to include assisted living, long term care, Alzheimer's, medical specialization, and respite stays. Care One also provides home care follow-up and hospice care and manages some long-term acute care units in hospitals.
By Bracha Schwartz