Saturday, March 14, 2009

How the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme Affects People with Autism: One Anecdote

When I was a reporter at a local daily newspaper, our staff spend great energy researching and writing about issues around the world—events like the first Gulf War, say, or budget battles in Washington—and figuring out how to explain those events and how they influenced people's lives where we lived and worked. Finding the right connections took a lot of looking around. It seems like nowadays that one doesn't need to go looking: the events come right to you.

Such is the case with one of Autism Bulletin's readers, a family who is losing a chunk of its respite help for an autistic child because of the infamous Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Madoff, 70, pled guilty in court this week and was sent directly to prison to await sentencing for a scheme in which he bilked thousands of customers of more than $50 billion by promising healthy returns on fictitious investments. The assets that went in were real. But most of it appears gone, as government investigators and lawyers for the clients continue their hunt.

That much you may learned already through the media. The way this affects the family with an autistic child is a simple chain reaction of financial losses, a supply chain of scandal that takes away the respite services. It goes like this:

1.) Madoff's Ponzi scheme bilks investors.
2.) Among the many investors is the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, founded in 1961 as a philanthropic organization, which "supports Arts and Culture, Education, Health and Hospitals, Jewish Causes and Social Welfare programs in Greater Boston and Palm Beach County, Florida."
3.) The Shapiro Foundation announces it will suspend grants for 2009 as a result of its losses in the Madoff scheme.
4.) Among the grant recipients was a community center south of Boston, which provided the respite care. Without the grant money from the Shapiro Foundation, our Autism Bulletin reader reports, the respite program shuts down.