Posted by Jon Federman
"Greg Baker was the kind of guy who always wanted to help others. He loved the fact that he was working for an organization that helped people," says Greg's mother, Rhonda Steeg. Now the Steegs are honoring Greg's memory by making a bequest to JF&CS in their estate plan. "What better way to remember him than by doing something for JF&CS that will help bring more people like Greg into the community and ensure that they have meaningful, connected lives?" asks Rimma Zelfand, JF&CS CEO.
Greg first came to JF&CS as a client of its Services for People with Disabilities & Mental Illness program in 2008. Greg's mother, Rhonda, had found the agency when she began looking into services for Greg, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of three and had undergone several invasive treatments and surgeries throughout the course of his life. He also suffered from a seizure disorder and learning disabilities.
JF&CS helped Greg live independently. His caseworkers, Jobe and Isa, assisted Greg with bills, insurance issues, and other day-to-day issues. He started working at Strawberries, the music and record store, but he was laid off when the company downsized. By the end of 2008, Greg started working at JF&CS in the Facilities department. There, he was responsible for keeping the building running, setting up meeting rooms, refilling the coffee and tea supply, watering plants, and recycling. He took his job very seriously and despite an extraordinarily lengthy commute from Brighton on public transportation, he was always careful to arrive for work on time.
His positive attitude, an inspiration to so many, came from his supportive parents. He embraced life despite its challenges. "We taught him no pity parties. Pick yourself up and keep going. He just wanted to get up, go to work, and live a normal life," adds Rhonda.
In 2011, Greg's health began to rapidly decline. He continued to work, even after medical treatments. Despite his weakened condition, he continued to think of others. Abdirisaaq Dalmar, JF&CS Supervising Facility Coordinator, recalls taking him home one day when he wasn't feeling well. Greg, of course, stopped to help an elderly woman down the stairs before going inside his own building.
When Greg passed away in June 2011, his JF&CS family was devastated. In time, a memorial plaque with Greg's likeness was put up at the entrance to the JF&CS Family Table food pantry. Greg had a special interest in Family Table, referring friends to the service and befriending the Family Table staff.
His connection to Family Table was so strong that Rhonda and her husband Carl Steeg, Greg's father Harvey Baker, and stepmother Michelle started a fund at JF&CS in Greg's memory to support the program.
"We cannot say enough about how much support everyone at JF&CS gave Greg," says Rhonda. "When my husband Carl and I started having conversations about our estate plan, we wondered how we could help organizations that meant a lot to us through our legacy giving. We identified a handful of charities, and then we thought about what these groups had done for us and our family, and what they do for so many others."
"JF&CS was as important to us as it was to Greg," she explains. "We wanted to be able to support JF&CS as best we could, even after we're gone. Making a bequest to JF&CS was a natural fit."
"Greg's optimism and good humor was something we learned to expect when we came to work each day," adds Rimma. "With bequests like this, we can ensure that our mission lives on. It's a wonderful way to honor Greg's humanity and his connection to the JF&CS community. I hope that others will be inspired by the generosity of Rhonda and Carl Steeg to plan their estates with a bequest to JF&CS, as well."
To learn more about making a bequest to JF&CS, please contact Wendy Wilsker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-693-5674.
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.