Volume 22, Number 52 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 7 - 13, 2010
The Goldman Sachs I know
By Bob Townley
I should be one of the last people to come to the defense of Goldman Sachs. I don’t believe in borrowing, loans, or owing anyone anything. I was arrested while participating in college protests for various causes, I believe in local control of resources and I have never waivered from my beliefs in environmental sustainability — and that there is too much economic stratification in the U.S. I campaigned for Barack Obama and will do so again with great passion.
With that said, let me jump into the fray concerning Goldman Sachs. Many of my friends, families in our schools and families in our recreation programs work in the financial industry. They live in our community and generate economic life for the entire tri-state region. So today, when they have become everybody’s favorite punching bag, allow me to stick my neck out to lend some perspective.
Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 Goldman executives walked into the prototype of our Community Center on 55 Warren St. We were devastated. Parts of the World Trade Center had fallen through our swimming pool roof, and all of our local after school programs were closed. Goldman was the first to respond with an offer of substantial resources. Even more importantly, Marilyn, one of the Goldman group’s leaders, hounded me to accept their help. She visited and volunteered with us many times. Goldman executives also made their way around the neighborhood helping others. Immediately after the attack, when the country was lacking direction Wall St got to work. We even had a community group “Wall Street Rising.”
Goldman Sachs’ efforts allowed us to restore a measure of stability for children and families Downtown. They helped Manhattan Youth orchestrate our well-documented response right after 9/11 – organizing the first community meetings, getting children’s programs and shuttle buses up and running in Battery Park City – before any government response was implemented. Goldman’s staff came to 55 Warren St. to volunteer and the senior executives supported our efforts. While other resources were still mobilizing, Goldman was on the ground and leading the way.
In the period since the 9/11 aftermath we have had little official contact with Goldman Sachs, except for their great lead gift at the time we were raising funds to build our Downtown Community Center. Yet Goldman parents continually have volunteered and involved themselves in projects that benefit our neighborhood. Taste of Tribeca, school PTA’s, Downtown Community awards, little leagues and other community projects all have Goldman Families involved. We have 55 Goldman families in our programs.
In this crisis let’s just keep in mind that many of those who work at Goldman are our neighbors and friends and that their support and compassion in numerous ways has benefited our community.
Bob Townley is the executive director of Manhattan Youth and a member of Community Board 1.